And what they don’t say . . . Hilly (Hillel) Kristal, of course, was a Jew.
P.S. For more info on Jews and Punk, see: http://www.thevillager.com/villager_191/beforeoiltherewasoy.html
By MARK JOYELLA
August 30, 2007 -- He took a run-down bar on the Bowery that he said stank of "dirty old men, vomit and urine," and built a legend - launching the careers of acts such as Blondie, the Ramones, Talking Heads and Patti Smith.
Hilly Kristal, founder of New York's iconic CBGB, died Tuesday from complications of lung cancer. He was 75.
The New Jersey native never intended to create the punk rock revolution in the 1970s.
"The question most often asked of me is, 'What does CBGB stand for?' I reply, 'It stands for the kind of music I intended to have, but not the kind that we became famous for: country, bluegrass, blues," Kristal wrote.
Opened in 1973, CBGB quickly became known as a gritty, grimy club that somehow had the hottest new acts on its stage, night after night.
"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."
The club on Bowery at Bleecker Street closed down last October after Kristal lost a battle to fight eviction.
Kristal was born on his family's farm in Highstown, N.J., in 1931. As a teenager, he moved to New York with dreams of becoming a singer. In the 1950s, he did take to the stage, serving as a member of the choir at Radio City.
In the 1960s, Kristal became manager at the Greenwich Village jazz club the Village Vanguard, an experience that may have given him the idea to open a club of his own.
"I thought it would be a whole lot of fun to have my own club with all this kind of music playing there. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, things didn't quite work out the way I'd expected," Kristal wrote in his history of CBGB.
Kristal was an unlikely avatar of punk music.
"At first, they didn't play so well," he once said of the seminal punk bands that came to CBGB in the mid-1970s. "I certainly didn't love every band that played CBGB's but I did love to encourage them to do their own thing, to challenge the establishment."
He became a beloved figure to the performers who used his small venue as a launching pad to stardom.
"In an era when disco was the mainstream, Hilly took a chance and gambled," said Ramones drummer Marky Ramone. "The gamble paid off for both him and for us. We are all grateful to him and will miss him."
David Byrne, lead singer of Talking Heads, remembered Kristal's low-key demeanor and generosity.
"Other clubs were all about models and beautiful people, and he was about letting the musicians in for free, to hear music and get cheap beers," Byrne said. "It automatically created a scene, and we'd just hang out all night."
At the time of his death, Kristal was working to keep CBGB alive, with plans to open new outlets in other cities, including Las Vegas.
Kristal is survived by a daughter, Lisa Kristal Burgman, and a son, Mark Dana Kristal. With Post Wire Services