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Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2006, 05:16 GMT 06:16 UK
Legendary punk club CBGB closes
By Damian Fowler
New York

Patti Smith performs in the club
Patti Smith said the club was more a "state of mind"
CBGB, the legendary New York punk club credited with discovering Patti Smith and The Ramones, has shut its doors after a final gig by Smith herself.

Blondie and Talking Heads also found fame after performing at the club which helped launch US punk music.

But a dispute over rent rises led owner Hilly Kristal to lose his lease, more than 30 years after the club opened.

Patti Smith said CBGB was more a "state of mind" than a venue and other clubs would replace it.

"We can have CBGB in our hearts, but the new generation is going to have their own places to play," said the 60-year-old singer during her Sunday night gig. "They're going to find some shit hole and play in it like we did."

Her set included a cover version of Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio? by The Ramones.

The inside walls of CBGB
The club's walls carry memories of the many gigs it hosted

The night before, Debbie Harry and her guitarist Chris Stein of Blondie also performed a farewell set, including Hanging on the Telephone and Call Me.

In its heyday in the 70s and early 80s, CBGB was the cradle of punk rock, the birthplace of the American scene.

There was never anything slick about the club, whose official title CBGB OMFUG stands for Country, Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gormandisers.

It became a sacred place for punk rock fans. Its walls remained untouched, encrusted with fading rock posters and flyers from the golden age of punk. New bands wanted to be able to say they'd played at CBGB.

Rising consumerism

Fans were sentimental about the closing of this landmark. Dori Sarcone, standing in line to see the last show, said she had been going to the club for 13 years and was planning a CBGB tattoo to remember the place.

"This was the Carnegie Hall of our scene," she said. "Every kid in a band wanted to play here."

But for many the closing of CBGB represented a much more significant cultural moment.

Music fans outside CBGB
Fans turned out to bid farewell to a part of New York's musical heritage

It was about the death of an older notion of New York, apparently killed off by money-driven consumerism which all serious punk rockers loathe.

"My belief has been that CBGB represents the last remaining bohemian movement," said John Holmstrom, the founder of Punk Magazine.

"The fact that this city is allowing this club to close is a cultural crime. Would Paris allow the Folies Bergere to close? I don't think so."

The rising rent prices are on the Bowery where CBGB is located. When it opened in 1973, the area was very run down. It was in the heart of the original Skid Row.

Now it is a gentrified area of pricey bars and million-dollar apartment buildings.

The club's founder and owner, Hilly Kristal, was reflective on the demise of his club.

"The emotions are very mixed, you put 30 years of your life into something and it becomes your home.

"I mean I've probably been here more than I have in any other place for all these years. It's like all of a sudden getting kicked out of your home."

Hilly Kristal in the club
Hilly Kristal would like to keep the club going

Kristal now vows to take CBGB to Las Vegas. Whether or not he does, CBGB's brand name is alive and well.

It's a lucrative franchise. On Saturday, the club sold $18,000 worth of t-shirts which continued to sell on Sunday.

So CBGB's last night on the Bowery wasn't really a sad event. There was a kind of inevitability to its closing.

"The problem is you don't come here to see bands anymore, just to buy t-shirts," said Tony Paris, a music journalist. "Nowadays it's more of a shrine."

Stars return in CBGB's last shows
12 Oct 06 |  Entertainment
Lease ends on defiant punk club
01 Sep 05 |  Entertainment
Final push to save CBGB rock club
31 Aug 05 |  Entertainment
Fans try to save rock club CBGB's
02 Aug 05 |  Entertainment

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