The Ramones and CBGB were so integral to the development of the punk rock music genre in the mid-1970s that you can’t think of one without the other. The two first came together on August 16, 1974 the Ramones played their first gig at CBGB, arguably launching the punk era. While this wasn’t the Ramones’ first public performance ever, it did begin the indelible intertwining of their career with CBGB, where they would go on to play seventy more times there in 1974 alone. Before the band and the club’s demise, the Ramones would play at CBGB hundreds more times over the next decades, as punk broke through to the mainstream.
CBGB opened on December 10, 1973 after biker and dive bar “Hilly’s on the Bowery” venue owner Hilly Kristal switched it up to a music club. CBGB went on to make history, booking and promoting early punk pock acts (which weren’t even referred to as “punk rock” as that term had yet to be invented). In addition to the Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, and the Talking Heads all got their start at CBGB.
We have written extensively about CBGB, the Ramones, and punk rock, Hilly Kristal’s first restaurant and bar on West 9th Street, when Joey Ramone passed away in 2001, and when CBGB closed its doors in 2006.
CBGB and the Ramones are not the be-all-end-all of punk rock in the East Village. Our East Village Building Blocks Punk Rock Tour not only includes CBGB Ramone’s related sites such as Johnny Ramone’s apartment building at 85 East 10th Street, but eighteen other sites of importance to punk rock history including The Dom on St. Marks Place, an influential recording studio on Avenue A, and the backdrop locations for memorable album covers. CBGB’s can also be found, along with numerous other historic properties, on our Historic Bowery Tour.
Punk is not the only musical genre which found a home in the East Village, and CBGB was not the only legendary performance venue in the neighborhood; learn about a dozen more that featured everything from jazz to dixieland to klezmer to psychedelic rock on our East Village Building Blocks Music Venue tour.
And of course CBGB wasn’t solely a punk rock venue. Our Historic Image Archive includes some photos taken there of a different nature. In the fall of 1994, “The Final Feast of Lucrezia Borgia” was performed at CBGB, starring Sherry Vine as Borgia, Mistress Formika as Orsinia, and Mark Allen, New York Press’s “Go-Go Boy of the Year 1993” as the boy.
Click here to see more photos donated by Jillian Jonas to the Village Preservation Historic Image Archive documenting her time as the house photographer at the legendary boy bar on St. Mark’s Place in the mid-1990’s, where she captured thousands of images of drag performers.