The world’s most famous rock club opened in December, 1973 when musician/actor/nightclub manager/concert impresario Hilly Kristal took over the decrepit Palace Bar and christened it CBGB & OMFUG (Country, Blue Grass, Blues & Other Music For Uplifting Gourmandizers). Beginning in early 1974, as Richard Hell later wrote, CBGB “housed the most influential cluster of bands ever to grow up — or to implicitly reject the concept of growing up — under one roof,” including Blondie, the Dead Boys, the Dictators, the Heartbreakers (with Johnny Thunders), Richard Hell & the Voidoids, the Ramones, Suicide, Talking Heads, and Television.
Tens of thousands of performers—from multi-platinum rockers Pearl Jam and Guns ‘N Roses to country superstar Alan Jackson—played CBGB until October 15, 2006, when the club closed for good following a protracted rent dispute. The Patti Smith Group headlined the last show, and PSG guitarist Lenny Kaye told the NY Times: “When I go into a rock club in Helsinki or London or Des Moines, it feels like CBGB to me there. The message from this tiny little Bowery bar has gone around the world. It has authenticated the rock experience wherever it has landed.” Hilly Kristal died August 28, 2007 at age 75 from complications of lung cancer. In April 2008, designer John Varvatos opened a boutique in the former CBGB.