Thinking of the legendary New York music club, what did CBGB stand for?
And the answer: Country Bluegrass and Blues.
Founded in 1973, CBGB was originally intended to feature country, bluegrass, and blues, but instead became a forum for American punk and new wave bands, like The Ramones, Blondie, New York Dolls, and Talking Heads.
Throughout the 70s and 80s, the CBGB club created a space for emerging artists and bands that had nowhere else to turn. While the space was originally intended to showcase the genres of its namesake, the owners of the venue soon realized that their scope was too limited. Following the collapse of another of New York's hottest venues, The Mercer Art Center, the CBGB club became the go-to for up-and-coming artists.
Hilly Kristal, CBGB's founder, had two simple rules: 1) only original music could be played (no covers allowed), and 2) all bands had to move their own equipment in and out. To no surprise, increasingly innovative and up-coming bands flocked to the club – the freedom to perform however they wanted enticed many more experimental artists. One of the most recognizable, early acts to play at the CBGB were The Ramones, who took to the stage in 1974 for the first time. After their 12 minute set, rock critic Legs McNeil was struck. He later described the experience as something "completely new." Throughout their career, The Ramones would go on to play CBGB over 70 times.
The CBGB club only increased in recognition as the decade progressed. Acts such as Elvis Costello, The Police, The Beastie Boys, and British punk band The Damned performed quintessential debuts at the CBGB. The club provided a platform for many classic bands of the 70s and 80s, forever revolutionizing the sound of rock n' roll, punk, and more.
Listen to Talking Heads perform "Psycho Killer" at the legendary CBGB below.