RIP: Hilly Crystal, CBGB Founder, Dead At 75

BY SEWELL CHAN FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES Hilly Kristal, who founded the punk-rock club CBGB and ran the legendary Bowery institution for nearly 33 years until it closed its doors last October, died on Tuesday at Cabrini Medical Center in Manhattan. He was 75. The Associated Press, citing Mr. Kristal’s son, Mark Dana Kristal, reported that the cause was lung cancer.

“The club — its initials mean Country Bluegrass Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers — was a hangout in a dire location,” Jon Pareles, The Times’s pop-music critic, wrote in October,cbgbkristal190.jpg when the Lower East Side club closed. “But its owner, Hilly Kristal, agreed to book artistically ambitious, high-concept, generally primitivist bands that defied the commercial imperatives of early-1970s rock.”

Covering the final concert at CBGB on Oct. 15, Ben Sisario wrote:

It has been a long and painful denouement for CBGB. After settling in 2001 with its landlord, the Bowery Residents’ Committee, over more than $300,000 in back rent, Mr. Kristal, a plucky, gray-bearded 75-year-old, landed back in court last year. The committee, which has an annual budget of $32 million and operates 18 shelters and other facilities throughout the city, said the club owed an additional $75,000 in unpaid rent increases.

Celebrities including David Byrne of Talking Heads and Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band and “The Sopranos” lined up to help mediate, but an agreement was never reached. Last December, three months after the club’s 12-year lease had expired, it agreed, at the prodding of Justice Carol R. Edmead of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, to finally close. MORE


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