CBGB’s Hilly Kristal – a life in punk

New York reacts to death of famous venue owner

Hilly Kristal, the founder and owner of CBGB‘s, has died at the age of 75.

Kristal was responsible for the so-called ‘birthplace of punk’ which kicked off the careers of legendary New York acts such as the Ramones, Television, Talking Heads, Blondie and Patti Smith.

After a long-standing legal battle with the building’s owners the Bowery Residents Committee, Kristal was forced to shutter the club in October of last year with a final show that saw a three and-a-half hour performance by Patti Smith, and was attended by Talking HeadsTina Weymouth, Jesse Malin and actors Ed Burns and Elijah Wood.

Kristal, who died yesterday at Cabrini Hospital (August 27), had been suffering from lung cancer, but managed to sit through much of the final night’s performance at CBGB‘s before leaving to a standing ovation.

Despite the closure of the club, the clothing store CBGB Fashions remained open selling memorabilia including shower curtains, guitar straps and the internationally ubiquitous CBGB T-shirt. Kristal also had plans to open a CBGB‘s in Las Vegas.

At the time of the closing of the Bowery venue, Kristal vowed to take every last bit of the club with him in order to formulate an authentic recreation of the club in Vegas.

“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.”

Fans left tributes to Kristal at the venue today, including flowers, candles and graffiti messages.

You can check out Hilly Kristal’s obituary on NME.COM.

–By our New York staff.

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