For many old schoolers, it was the place where American punk rock was born and raised. A notoriously dingy dive bar in New York’s Bowery, where you might catch such up-an-coming bands as the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, Patti Smith, and Dead Boys on any given night and a trip to the toilet was sketchy at best.
It was CBGB and now it’s gone. But the legendary club (with a name that stood for “County, Bluegrass and Blues”), opened by the late Hilly Kristal in 1973, is the subject of a major motion picture. “CBGB,” opening Friday (October 11), features an all-star cast including Rupert Grint, Malin Akerman, Julian Acosta, Ashley Greene and Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins.
MTV News visited the set of the film earlier this year and spoke to stars Justin Bartha (who plays Dead Boys singer Stiv Bators) and Rupert Grint (guitarist Cheetah Chrome) about their roles in the movie chronicling punk’s launching pad.
“I’ve gotten to know Justin quite well. His buttock cheeks were my canvas and I was drawing something on his bare ass cheeks,” Grint said of Bartha’s character’s penchant for mooning drivers outside the band’s tour van.
If you never got a chance to visit, well, MTV News was also there in 2006 when the club packed up its sticker- and poster-strewn walls, dinged-up bar and yes, filthy urinals. And to commemorate the occasion, we talked to some of the biggest rock stars in the world about how their careers were immeasurably touched by that CB’s magic.
Here are their takes on what made CBGB great:
Bono (U2): “When I got to New York, CBGB’s had closed as the punk rock mecca that it was when we formed the band. When U2 was formed when we were 15, 16, we would hear about these shows in this extraordinary place called CBGB’s. We would have thought there’d be 10,000 people there, but there’d be 200 in truth … This was where they [the Ramones] lived. And I wouldn’t be in a band if the Ramones didn’t exist.”
Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters): “The first time I ever played there was in 1987 with my hardcore band, Scream. I remember the craziest thing about that club is you could be in front of the stage, front row, it could be louder than any show you’ve ever been to in your life. But if you were towards the back of the club at the bar you could sit and have a conversation with someone. It was the weirdest thing for me.”
Beck: “That should be a landmark, definitely. It’s such a reference point in music for people in bands, beyond what it actually is. It’s more of a concept.”
Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips): “I remember playing CBGB’s and thinking that no one had cleaned the toilets in there for six or seven years … It was horrible.”