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Who, What, When, Where, & Why of CBGB & OMFUG

History & Facts about CBGB & OMFUG

CBGB & OMFUG, or Country Bluegrass & Blues & Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers, was a legendary venue in New York City from 1973 until its closure in 2006. For forty years, it was host to some of the most prominent bands in punk rock, and should be well-known by any who considers themselves a fan of the genre.


CBGB & OMFUG was founded by Hilly Kristal back in 1973. The original idea was to host music Kristal was interested in, hence the acronym CBGM & OMFUG which translates “Country Bluegrass & Blues & Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers.” Fate would come knocking when local inspiring musicians like Richard Llyod and Tom Valeria of Television, influenced by bands such as the New York Dolls with their “anyone can do this punk rock attitude,” asked if they could play the venue. Seeing how Hilly Kristal’s only requirement at the time was that the bands play original music, he eventually gave in offering regular nights to local bands. Soon after, the CBGB’s stage would host bands like the Ramones, the Dictators, the Dead Boys, and more providing a home for New York’s first native rock scene.


The building of CBGB & OMFUG was a total of 3,300 square feet, and the inside covered with graffiti, rock ‘n’ roll stickers, s**t, piss, throw up, and any other bodily fluid that comes mind. If the walls inside CBGB could talk, it would probably sound like a gurgling, strung-out mess from all the juices caked on it. Visitors would be hit with an unforgettable aroma upon walking into CBGB’s due to the liquids mentioned above and Hilly Kristal’s famous chili cooking in the back (which the Dead Boys would jerk off in – no joke). Yet despite its disgusting atmosphere, and to make a long story short, this is the “Official Home of Underground Rock.” It is an original and any person alive during its heyday would speak not only of the stench and disgust, but the love for the place and what was happening inside its walls. To explain further, here is Mary Harron, former writer for Punk magazine, on walking to CBGB’s:

“My heart would just be racing every time I did that block. And then the doors would open and I’d be there. I was so excited every night I went. Everything was new, and it was so exciting because I knew I was walking into the future.”

Mary Harron from Please Kill Me: An Uncensored Oral History of Punk

Overall, the stench goes along with the territory in my humble opinion. Especially, when you read about the stories of those who performed there. Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t clean or perfect – it’s dirty, sexy, authentic, and, … well, it smells.

Moral of the story, don’t eat the chili.


As mentioned above, the building came under the ownership of Hilly Kristal in 1973.

During the 1970s, CBGB’s welcomed bands like the Mink DeVille, the Heartbreakers, Patti Smith Group, Talking Heads, Blondie, The Cramps, and so many more to play.

The 1980s rolled around when top bands like Warzone, Agnostic Front, Cro-Mags, Youth of Today, Sick of it All, and more hit the CBGB’s stage.

Followed by the 1990s when the venue hosted bands like Korn, Sum 41, Green Day, and Guns N Roses.

The venue hosted shows up until its final on October 15, 2006, which featured Patti Smith.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Bowery Historic District (not a New York City Historic District) in 2013.


CBGB is located at 315 Bowery, the oldest street in New York City. During CBGB’s reign in the 1970s, the venue was under a cheap hotel, or flophouse, which according to Hilly Kristal had its perks. I will let him explain:

“Having a rock club on the Bowery, under a flophouse (believe it or not), does have some advantages. (1) the rent is (was) reasonable (2) Most of our neighbors dressed worse than, or more weird than our rock and rollers (3) The surrounding buildings were mostly industrial and the people who did live close by, didn’t seem to care about having a little rock and roll sound seeping into their lives.”

Hilly Kristal from

Hilly Kristal further explains that the downfall of being on the Bowery would be the thousands of derelicts that surrounded the area. Alcoholics, drug addicts, and mentally unstable men covered the street and sometimes did their best to get inside the club. Of course, most of the performers and patrons of CBGB’s were also drug addicts or rockers, so it never deterred them from coming to the area.

Why (the f**k should you care)?

No one can doubt the importance CBGB’s had for the punk rock revolution in the 1970. Without it, the Ramones, the Misfits, Richard Hell & the Voidoids, the Dead Boys, and on and on and on never would have gotten their start. The various artists that influenced today’s punk rock all more than likely have a crazy story from inside CBGB’s. It is, and always will be, a sacred place in the history of punk rock. So, pay some respect you filthy animal.

For more information, check out the venue’s website at Another good source, Please Kill Me: An Uncensored Oral History of Punk. They made a movie, it’s ok.

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