Mural Remembers Ramones

Joey Ramon (Jeff Hyman) headstone. Photo by Tony Fischer

Joey Ramon (Jeff Hyman) headstone. Photo by Tony Fischer

Across from the former location on the Bowery of the famed music venue CBGB artists Solus and Dan (Crash) Matos created a mural to commemorate the debut of the Ramones over 40 years ago there.

The mural depicts the band leader Joey Ramone with bright red boxing gloves clutched together in front of his chest, looking ready for a fight. The non-profit group Little Italy Street Art Project NYC is behind the organization of paintings creation, which was executed within 6 hours on September 3.

Wayne Rada of the LISA Project explained that the fighting position Joey Ramone strikes in the portrait represents the many years of struggle the band had to invest before becoming the household name they eventually became.

“It was pretty cool that the boxing gloves have a symbolic meaning of the struggle,” Rada said.

Solus pointed out on Instagram that in the 22 years the Ramones toured they performed 2,263 times.

CBGBs closed in September 2006 after hosting live music for 33 years. August marked the 41st year since the Ramones first performance there.

The mural can remain for one year until the permit expires, at which time, the rules stipulate, the wall must go back to its “Tawny Rose” color. Rada needs to check with the community every 90 days to make sure there are no problems.

Rada said that word is quickly spreading through social media about the mural, and people have been coming to see it and take photos.

Remembering Punk Rock’s Incubator Forty Years Later

Iconic CBGB Opened 40 years ago in December

Iconic CBGB Opened 40 years ago in December

Forty years ago, in December, 1973, what was to become one of the most iconic music clubs in New York City opened its doors: CBGB. Its full name was CBGB&OMFUG, which stood for Country, Blue Grass, Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers.

Curiously, if we are all remembering correctly, the bands that first got their start their and torpedoed into stardom, such as the Ramones, Television and Blondie, could not be confused with country and bluegrass bands by anyone with ears. So what happened?

Hilly Kristal opened CBGB at 315 Bowery. This was the address of his previous business, Hilly’s on the Bowery. Kristal was forced to move his West Village nightclub to the new site after neighbors complained about the noise.

The mid 70s was not such a friendly time for new bands in New York that wanted to play original music. To make ends meet Kristal allowed a few young music promoters to feature their local groups at his nightclub, provided that they followed only two dictates: The band had to be willing to haul their own equipment themselves, and they were not to play covers of songs. This meant that Kristal did not have to pay ASCAP dues.

Since CBGB was one of a very few number of clubs that showcased young, up-and-coming acts the place was bursting with bands embracing the latest phase in the evolution of rock & roll: extremely loud, stripped down, high energy sound that was played fast and hard. It took only one year for the bar to play host to the likes of Television, the Ramones and the Stilettos, which later morphed into Blondie with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. It did not take long for the ‘scene’ to develop, and the natural progression was for the biggest acts at CBGB to be go on to sign lucrative music deals.

In the 1980s CBGB was the headquarters for the truly hardcore punk rock bands. The tiny bar stayed open for decades after. It became not only a place for music, but a tourist site, and a punk rock kind of rite-of-passage.

CBGB was forced to close in 2006 over a rent dispute due to the extreme gentrification of the neighborhood. Many of the biggest bands that played there also lowered the curtain and played their list gig at the site, making it even harder for the club to stay open. Kristal passed away in 2007. The famous CBGB awning now resides in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Five Years for John Varvatos on The Bowery

John Varvatos

John Varvatos

Taking over the space where the punk rock club CBGB used to be can’t be easy, but it has already been five great years since the John Varvatos Bowery boutique opened, and it seems to be swinging over there.

Last Wednesday the boutique celebrated the five years it has been since April 2008 when Varvatos took over the legendary space at 315 Bowery.

On hand and welcomed by the designer Varvatos was blues musician Gary Clark, Jr. and the soul-rock band Vintage Trouble. All were dressed in perfectly cut John Varvatos suits. The store has often hosted live shows in commemoration and celebration of the history and heritage of the site.