Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Another One Bites The Dust !

I guess it had to happen, as the saying goes everything comes to an end as did the (in)famous CBGB: OMFUG club in New York Cities now fashionable Bowery close it's doors to the public for the very last time early last Monday morning. The importance of this small club should not be underestimated for without it and the NY scene that it nurtured in the first half of the seventies there would have been NO Sex Pistols, and regardless of what you think of them it was they they that kick started a movement that helped to wipe a very dirty slate clean and enabled us to start all over again. The club was founded by Hilly Kristal in 1973 with a rather long winded name in Country Blue Grass Blues: Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers, Kristal was convinced that country music was the next big thing. The original bands failed to draw enough people so when Television approached the venue they were booked, the first show did not go down well, though they were able to persuade Kristal to re-book them this time they had the nascent Ramones opening for them. Musically speaking this was alien to the clubs owner despite the fact that the audience were enjoying themselves and so thankfully he continued booking these bands. Patti Smith was the next person to tread the boards after having been recommended by Tom Verlaine. The Poet turned rocker was to pay a total of 56 shows during a seven week residency, it was at one of these that Clive Davis, then owner of Arista caught her act and wasted no time in signing her up as she stepped off of the stage. Since then everyone his brother and sister would appear to have played there and it really looked like nothing could stop the venue going on and on. Then late last year the news broke that there was a dispute between Hilly and the venues owners regarding the lease, this obviously meant money was involved. The hike in rent that was being demanded was unacceptable and despite a popular movement supporting the musical landmark nothing could be done, the result being last Sundays final Gig. I have read that there is going to be a new CBGBs in Las Vegas!!!!!!!!!!! Me neither I can't understand this, after all the club had become a symbol of the big apple and had long been associated with NYC bands. Who knows maybe they're heading to Vegas in an attempt to get Celine Dion to play?
The last concert was assured by one of New Yorks favorite daughters Patti Smith, who as already mentioned was also one of the first to play there. Breaking with Kristal's original rule that bands played their own material the set was heavy in cover versions paying tribute to the venues long history this included Televisions 'Marquee Moon' with Richard Lloyd helping out, Blondie's 'The Tide Is High', The Dead Boys 'Sonic Reducer' and a Ramones medley that if reports are to be believed almost took the roof off the club. Despite the downbeat feel for the evening, a recital of the names of dead punk rock musicians, Patti Smith was also enthusiastic and forward looking, as she pointed out the kids would find some other place to make their music and build their scene. I for one endorse her feelings, yes it's sad that a club closes and above all after such a long and productive life. I'm under no delusion despite last weeks celebration of 20 years of Le Rockstore I know full well that the chances it clocks up another 20 years are negligible. Raise your glasses to the future!
Today's soundtrack is one song a piece from the first three important artists that played CBGBs, of particular interest is 'Piss Factory' that was one side of Patti Smiths first 7" the other was her take on 'Hey Joe'. I used to have this single and if my memory serves me well it was on Sire records, a one off deal before Arista? The photo comes from the New York Times and was taken by Ruth Fremson, I couldn't be there I had another engagement, and depicts Smith arriving for this historic date.

1. Television 'See No Evil'
2. Ramones 'Blitzkrieg Bop'
3. Patti Smith 'Piss Factory'

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