As famous venues go, the former nightclub known as CBGB was as popular as it gets. Stationed in New York City in Manhattan’s East Village, it opened in 1973. This infamous establishment–started by Hilly Kristal–eventually became the home for well known and popular punk and new wave bands such as The Ramones, the Patti Smith Group, Blondie and, The Talking Heads. For a variety of reasons CBGB ran into hard times after 2000 and the club’s final show took place on October 15, 2006, when Patti Smith performed there. (Kristal also died in 2007). The club was later featured in a 2009 documentary entitled Burning Down the House.
Editor’s Note: As a point of interest, the letters “CBGB” actually stood for “country, bluegrass, and blues” which was the original vision for the club.
So, why is this famous and historical club back in the news? Well, if you can believe this CBGB is back but it’s not as you think. CBGB is slated to return….as a restaurant. Oh, and one more thing. The “restaurant” will be located at Newark Airport in Newark, New Jersey.
— WFMU (@WFMU) December 21, 2015
The skinny is that the “restaurant” will be up and running by year’s end however, putting all that aside one has to wonder how this could be happening at all. What happened at CBGB’s–in terms of musical history–is nothing short of legendary and what The Ramones, the Patti Smith Group, Blondie and, The Talking Heads have done for music is iconic and it all started at CBGB’s.
And also remember, the 70s and 80s were legendary in NYC and not just because of CBGB but also because of another famous venue known as Studio 54 (1977-1981). Indeed, that time period, and those venues, represented music and art at its finest never to be repeated again.
However, to quote The Monkees; “that was then this is now.” So to bring CBGB’s “back” (if that’s what you call it)–in the form of a restaurant at a major metropolitan airport–would be akin to trying to reopen Studio 54 as a juice bar for seniors. It just doesn’t work.
Regardless of the outcome of this story we just hope that people don’t forget the history that CBGB helped spawn. The real CBGB can never be recreated nor should it be confused with meal specials and frequent flyer miles.