Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Legendary club impresario was 75


Wednesday, August 29th 2007, 9:58 AM

Hilly Kristal, whose dank Bowery rock club CBGB served as the birthplace of the punk rock movement and a launching pad for bands like the Ramones, Blondie and the Talking Heads, has died after a battle with lung cancer, his son said Wednesday. He was 75.

Kristal, who lost a bitter fight last year to stop the club's eviction from its New York home of 33 years, died Tuesday at Cabrini Hospital, said his son, Mark Dana Kristal.

Last October, as the club headed toward its final show with Patti Smith, Kristal was using a cane to get around and showing the effects of his cancer treatment. He was hoping to open a Las Vegas incarnation of the infamous venue that opened in 1973.

"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."

At the club's boarded-up storefront Wednesday morning, a spray-painted message read, "RIP Hilly, we'll miss you, thank you." There were also a dozen candles, two bunches of flowers and a foam rubber baseball bat - an apparent tribute to the Ramones' classic "Beat on the Brat."

While the club's glory days were long past when it shut down, its name transcended the venue and become synonymous with the three-chord trash of punk and its influence on generations of musicians worldwide.

The club also became a brand name for a line of clothing and accessories, even guitar straps; its store, CBGB Fashions, was moved a few blocks away from the original club, but remained open.

"I'm thinking about tomorrow and the next day and the next day, and going on to do more with CBGB's," Kristal told The Associated Press last October.

Kristal started the club in 1973 with the hope of making it a mecca of country, bluegrass and blues - called CBGB & OMFUG, for "Other Music For Uplifting Gourmandisers" - but found few bands to book. It instead became the epicenter of the mid-1970s punk movement.

"There was never gourmet food, and there was never country bluegrass," Dana Kristal said Wednesday.

Besides the Ramones and the Talking Heads, many of the other sonically defiant bands that found frenzied crowds at CBGB during those years became legendary - including Smith, Blondie and Television.

Smith said at the venue's last show that Kristal "was our champion and in those days, there were very few."

The club hosted hardcore and punk acts throughout the years, becoming a landmark in a neighborhood that was transformed by late-1990s development.

Throughout the years, CBGB had rented its space from the building's owner, the Bowery Residents' Committee, an agency that houses homeless people.

In the early 2000s, a feud broke out between the two entities when the committee went to court to collect more than $300,000 in back rent from the club, then later successfully sought to evict it. By the time it closed, CBGB had become part museum and part barroom.

Kristal was born in Highstown, N.J., where he grew up on a farm. He moved to New York City when he was 18, nurturing dreams of becoming a singer and singing on stage at Radio City Music Hall.

He later became the manager of the Village Vanguard, the legendary jazz club in Greenwich Village, where he booked acts like Miles Davis.

Possibly inspired by his managing of the club, he decided to open his own place featuring bluegrass in 1970, called Hilly's on the Bowery, which became CBGB.

In addition to Mark Dana, Kristal, who continued to live on the Bowery, is survived by a daughter, Lisa Kristal. Their mother, his ex-wife, Karen Kristal, 89, also survives him, and lives in Manhattan.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

We are in Palmetto, FL for refurb. I have pics to post, but internet is slow, so I won't post very many. We are staying in an RV park this week. It is awesome. Even has a fenced in doggie play area. Wifi is slow here, but at least its free. End of next week we go on to Memphis, TN. It is good to be back at work, but it was nice to have a break, brief as it was.

Highlights of our two week break include:
Getting to see family (Hubby's in New Hampshire and mine in Florida)
Ice Skating with friends in Orlando
Going to the Orlando vs. Jacksonville rollerderby game (Go F***Bombers!)
Buying a "new" car (1987 Dodge Charger)
Dyed my hair (black)
Getting to see friends in Tennessee (including Hubby's godson, Little Nate)
and I got hubby a video ipod so he will stop stealing mine!

Here are pics from ice skating!

Two weeks to Graceland!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

second session. 4 hours. (hopefully) only one more session to go, too bad it will have to wait until tour is over in April.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I am home from Mexico. We survived the high altitude, pollution, and language barriers; as well as the layover and flight delays, to finally make it to New Hampshire. It is so good to be back with the dogs, and to be where they sell Moxie soda (for Nate, I still think its gross).

Anyway, I had another session on my tattoo today. FOUR HOURS. OMG it hurt so bad on the sides I wasn't sure I'd make it. But, I survived. Still not done, but the rest will have to wait until after tour.

Saturday we are going to Tennessee to visit friends, then on to Florida on tuesday.

Got to go. New tattoo needs to be cleaned.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More pics. Diana's Birthday.

We all ate at the pyramids. Katie spilled the beans about it being Diana's birthday, so she got a cake and a serenade from the mariachi band.

Later that night, we went to the Irish Bar for drinks (she did turn 21 afterall).

Katie's drink did NOT look appealing.

That is all, probably till I get back to the states. Internet is REALLY hard to find, and our show schedule this weekend is hectic (and we are short an electrician for load out, which is going to make things take even longer).

Bye all! See you soon!
We had our last day off here in Mexico City. From here on it will be work, work, work until we get on the plane. Here are some pics (small, internet is really slow here)

So, to make the most of our day off, we went on a tour. First stop, Guadelupe Church. Site of the Virgin Mary appearance. And one of the holiest places in the world.

Here is Nate with the Pope statue.

Me in front of the doors to the "new" church. (the new church is from the 1970's as opposed to the old church which is hundreds of years old)

Then, we went to the Pyramids. The temple of the moon is being restored, so we could only climb the Temple of the Temple of the Sun.

The View from the bottom.

The View from the top.

Nate and I on the steps up the pyramid.

Then we explored the underground temples.

Haak taught Mike how to floss with a cactus.

Then we had free tequila samples.

And shopping, we learned a stage manager with a sword, is a scary thing.

THat's all for now. Be home next week!