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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Lease ends on defiant punk club
Debbie Harry of Blondie
Blondie were among the performers at the rally
The landlord of the legendary New York punk club CBGB - which is threatened with closure - has insisted the lease will not be renewed.

The lease on the CBGB club expired at midnight on Wednesday, despite a final rally in Manhattan's Washington Square Park to try to save the venue.

The Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie were among bands who found fame after playing at the venue in the 1980s.

The club's owner, Hilly Kristal, said at the rally: "We intend to stay."

We're not going without a fight
Steven Van Zandt, guitarist

He added: "This is not a eulogy. There's no reason why we shouldn't come to an understanding."

The lease expired after a dispute with landlord Bowery Residents Committee - an agency that helps the homeless - over rent rises.

The committee wanted to increase the monthly rental cost, which is about $19,000 (10,700), and unpaid back rent from the past three years.

However, a judge recently ruled that the club did not owe the money because it was not properly billed.

Muzzy Rosenblatt, executive director of the committee said he believed the it was in the "best interest of our clients - the homeless and neediest New Yorkers - to sever this relationship".

CBGB rally
CBGB fans young and old turned out to support the club

He called on CBGB's to "vacate the premises both voluntarily and expeditiously".

But Kristal said he had acts scheduled at the venue throughout September.

E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt, who organised the concert and rally, promised to battle on to the end.

"We're not going without a fight," he said.

"If the eviction proceedings start tomorrow, which I hope it doesn't, we'll fight it in the courts."

Blondie were among the bands who performed at the rally, which attracted CBGB fans from across the generations.

Some of the club's supporters at the rally echoed 70s fashion statements, sporting green hair, safety pin earrings and black Ramones T-shirts.

Rochelle Goldman, 45 who wore a "Save CBGB" T-shirt, said: "People say it's a museum, but I'm still going there. I'm an old punk."

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