CBGB (closed)

Movie CBGB Randall Miller (2013)
Eager to open a bar capable of uniting country music fans in the heart of the Bowery district, Hilly Kristal is quick to attract punks and other misfits looking for a place to hang out...
CBGB New York
CBGB New York. Photo credit: Gilles Rolland

“I am taking the bars with me, I am taking the stage – I’m taking the urinal that Joey (Ramone) pissed in with me. I’m going to take a lot of things – anything that makes this place CBGB‘s.”

Hilly Kristal

A vibrant tribute to Hilly Kristal and his mythical club, this film could not be shot within the walls of the former CBGB, where a John Varvatos store is now located.

Instead, director Randall Miller and his cast took up residence in Savannah, in a studio where the mythical club was completely recreated.

The production also used the streets of New York for the exterior scenes.


The CBGB could accommodate up to 350 people on concert nights.

Scene at CBGB in CBGB
Scene at CBGB in CBGB. Photo credit: Unclaimed Freight Productions and Rampart Films
Scene at CBGB in CBGB
Scene at CBGB in CBGB. Photo credit: Unclaimed Freight Productions and Rampart Films
Scene at CBGB in CBGB
Scene at CBGB in CBGB. Photo credit: Unclaimed Freight Productions and Rampart Films

315 Bowery

In activity from December 1973 to October 2006, the CBGB embodied a state of mind marked by freedom and served as a launching pad for several groups that later became unavoidable, including the Ramones, Blondie and Talking Heads…

Marginalized people came to the CBGB, whose floor was littered with the owner’s dog poop. “Just getting to CBGB’s was a feat. If you didn’t want to get mugged, you had to look tough. It was a dangerous place and its customers felt like survivors,” said photographer Bob Gruen in 2004, as recounted by Steven Blush in his book.

This atmosphere is well reflected in the film CBGB by Randall Miller. Not exactly the kind of bar where you could run into students from the region’s major universities.

It was the perfect place for beginners and clueless musicians to collectively create a new kind of music. The Ramones gave their first concert in these yellowed walls on August 16th 1974, playing very loud and very fast, followed by Blondie, Television and The Talking Heads.

As the reputation of this temple of alternative culture grew, the stage welcomed The Dead Boys, The Cramps, Iggy Pop and then in the 1980s went on to hardcore, giving bands like Sick Of It All, the Bad Brains or Agnostic Front the opportunity to make their mark.

While outside, the grip is tightening and New York is gentrifying block after block, the CBGB makes resistance. A battle that Hilly Kristal led until 2006 before giving up in the face of ever-increasing rents.

On October 15, 2006, Patti Smith, Sonic Youth and the Dead Kennedy’s were among the artists present to celebrate the closing. Decided to open a new CBGB in Las Vegas, Hilly Kristal is finally carried away by the disease in August 2007.

His bar became a relic of a bygone era. A dismantled monument. YouTube takes over some of the furniture for its Los Angeles studios and John Varvatos, a fashion designer, sets up a clothing store. 85$ a t-shirt.

We are far from the spirit of the beginning. You can still admire the walls, left as they are, and the bar counter.

Not far from there, at 325 Bowery, the Joey Ramone Place also refers to this era. Its sign is one of the most stolen in New York!

Go there

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Fanspots Stories New York

Fanspots Stories New York

Discover the secrets of the cult places of the greatest masterpieces of pop culture in New York!

The world capital of pop culture, New York embodies unbridled creative freedom. The city that never sleeps has been the muse of a large number of directors, actors, screenwriters, singers, musicians, cartoonists and writers…

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Did you know that?
Did you know that the filming of Rage Against The Machine’s Music Now in the Fire caused Wall Street to shut down for the first time since 1929?

Fanspots Stories New York is also
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By Gilles Rolland

Friday, September 24, 2021

Passionné de cinéma, de rock and roll, de séries TV et de littérature. Rédacteur de presse et auteur des livres Le Heavy Metal au cinéma, Paroles de fans Guns N' Roses, Paroles de fans Rammstein et Welcome to my Jungle : 100 albums rock et autres anecdotes dépareillées. Adore également voyager à la recherche des lieux les plus emblématiques de la pop culture.

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