CBGB’s Owner Hilly Kristal is Dead

hilly   CBGB owner Hilly Kristal lost his battle with cancer yesterday and is being remembered for his role in fostering the American punk rock scene. Located on the Bowery (a neighborhood filled with homeless people and tranisents in the ’70s), CBGB gave birth to seminal bands like the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, Television, and countless other acts during the venue’s 33 year history.

Kristal opened his venue in 1973 and continuously operated the Lower East Side club until he was forced to shutter it in 2006 due to a dispute over $300,000 in unpaid rent. Kristal had hoped to open a version of the club in Las Vegas. Hilly Kristal was 75.

“He created a club that started on a small, out-of-the-way skid row, and saw it go around the world,” said Lenny Kaye, a longtime member of the Patti Smith Group. “Everywhere you travel around the world, you saw somebody wearing a CBGB T-shirt.”

Marky Ramone issued the following statement: “Hilly was an integral part of the punk scene from 1974 until his death. He was always supportive of the genre and of bands like the Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, and Richard Hell and Voidoids and will hold a prominent place in music history. In an era when disco was the mainstream, Hilly took a chance and gambled. The gamble paid off for both him and for us. We are all grateful to him and will miss him.”

Darren Ressler