After battling lung cancer for quite some time, CBGB founder Hilly Kristal has passed away. Kristal had a wild ride over the past couple of years, fighting to keep his lease so that the legendary punk venue could remain open in its original location. Despite the efforts of Kristal and a wide assortment of supporters, the Bowery Residents Committee finally got there way and booted CBGB from the building. Now all that remains from the venue's glory days is a whiff of cigarette smoke and stale air, as it has been gutted and is waiting for a new tenant.
Less than a year after the official end of CBGB, it is like a one-two punch with the passing of Kristal. You have to give the man props for helping light the fire to get punk rock in motion here in the US, giving bands like The Ramones and The Talking Heads a place to perform in their early days. Hilly Kristal and the defunct CBGB are rock & roll institutions, and it is a damn shame that they are both now gone. RIP Hilly Kristal... you will be missed. He was 75.
According to Gothamist, a public memorial in Kristal's honor will be held at a later date. In the meantime, friends and supporters and send donations in his name to either the American Cancer Society or Hilly Kristal Foundation For Musicians And Artists (168 Second Avenue, PMB 207, New York, NY 10003).