'Hilly Kristal was the best of men in the worst of places'
Debbie Harry and Little Steven Van Zant each made heartfelt tributes today to the CBGB founder who died yesterday from lung cancer. He was 75.
“Hilly was the best of men in the worst of places. Humble, we think of him tranquilly sweeping the front sidewalk after long hours of hardcore mayhem. He was impossible to intimidate. He kept his cool, first with the Hell’s Angels, then with the punks, and finally, to the end, with the little bourgeois landlord who, not content with milking the city of millions with a phony “hospice” operation (the flop house upstairs), opted to evict him in favor of even more lucrative rents from some corporate chain store that, with ironic justice, has never materialized. (And who would dare? That hallowed block bounded by Joey Ramone Way is still too sacrosanct.)”
Weymouth also compared Hilly to the recently deceased Tony Wilson saying:
“Hilly was never much tempted to cash in on the success he was instrumental in helping his bands to achieve. Akin to our great UK favorite, Tony Wilson, his art was the artless willingness to support us to grow better utterly without favoritism.”
Commenting on Kristal’s plan to re-open CBGB in Las Vegas, Weymouth said:
“When he was made to leave the Bowery he took it all with him- graffitti’d walls, the stiletto etched bar, the neon signs with the greasy dust an inch thick, the toilets (never mind what still clung to them!). He took it all to be rebuilt in the seediest part of that revolting West Coast mecca of the decadent, Las Vegas. He did it for the kids.
Meanwhile, Patti Smith paid tribute to Kristal on her website, with a poem entitled ’Hilly Kristal: The Good Shepard’, the last paragraph of which reads:
“I never really knew him outside of CBGB’S. But he was always there. His door was always open. And when he fell asleep we never had to be quiet.
Hilly Kristal was the good shepherd of a flock of black sheep. We are forever grateful.”
–By our New York staff.