hilly kristal

Another important New Yorker has died. The New York Times reports:
Hilly Kristal, who founded CBGB, the Bowery bar that became the cradle of punk and art-rock in New York in the 1970s and served as the inspiration for musician-friendly rock dives throughout the world, died in Manhattan on Tuesday. He was 75.

His son, Mark Dana Kristal, told The Associated Press that the cause was complications from lung cancer.

From its opening in late 1973, when Mr. Kristal, a lover of acoustic music, gave the club its name, an abbreviation of the kinds of music he originally intended to feature there — country, bluegrass and blues — until a dispute with its landlord forced the club to close last October, CBGB presented thousands of bands within its eternally crumbling, flyer-encrusted walls.

Most famously, it served as the incubator for the diverse underground scene of New York in the 1970s and early ’80s, with acts like the Ramones, Patti Smith, Blondie, Television, Talking Heads and Sonic Youth playing some of their earliest and most important concerts there, at a time when there were few outlets in the city for innovative rock music.

I blogged about CBGB's impending demise here, here and here. When Kristal was asked about the gentrification of The Bowery, the historic neighbourhood where CBGB lived, he surprised many people with his attitude: "You want old stuff? Go to Europe."

In that sense (and many others), Kristal truly understood New York. Everything is always changing, and nothing lasts forever.


Jere said...

Holy crap. Hadn't heard this yet. Thanks.

I'll never forget when my ex played a show at CBs 313 Gallery, and we were backstage (don't picture scores of stoned people partying, this was more like, Oh, you're the performer? Okay, you can tune back in that room by yourself--oh, sure, your boyfriend can go back there, too), and there was a filing cabinet back there. And one of the drawers had Hilly's name on it. And I was all excited: Oh my god, Hilly's hit is in here. It must've been locked, though, because I don't remember seeing what was inside, and I surely would've tried to open it...

Jere said...

"Hilly's shit," not his hit. Sorry.

laura k said...

Jere, I thought of you right away when I saw this. I was going to email... but got distracted (how lame).

When CBGB closed it was the end of an era, but Hilly's passing... wow.