Whether you’re from New York or not if you’re into punk rock you’ve heard the name CBGB. Back in the 1970s, when punk rock as a genre was still in its infancy, the famed NYC venue helped launch the careers of a number of punk rock acts, which inevitably put it on the map as one of the birthplaces of punk rock. This month “CBGB”, the film documenting the club and the NYC punk scene, made its theatrical debut and in honor of the biopic we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the acts that rose to prominence on 315 Bowery and changed music in the process.
Check out our list of 5 punk acts that helped put CBGB on the map below.
Easily the most famous band to come out of CBGB, and the one that is most often linked to the club. The four original members, Dee Dee, Joey, Tommy, and Johnny took to the CBGB stage for the first time on August 16, 1974, less than 6 months after their first performance. By that time they had been able to cultivate their image and sound into something which caused both shock and awe and by the end of the year, the band had played CBGB a total of seventy five times. One of their performances caught the eye of a record executive from Sire Records and they landed their first record deal in 1975, with their debut album coming out in April of 1976. They continued to perform at CBGB for years after their big break.
2. Patti Smith
Often called the “godmother of punk” Patti Smith started her own CBGB story as just another member in the crowd at a Television gig in 1974. In February of 1975 she made her CBGB debut with the Patti Smith Group. While she did frequently perform at CBGB during its prime, her biggest role within the clubs history was bringing it to a close. The final night of CBGB, on October 15, 2006, Smith took the stage to perform a powerful 3 ½ hour set that included her songs and covers like “Pale Blue Eyes”, “Gloria”, and “Marquee Moon”. She brought her set to a close a little after 1AM with “Elegie” and with that, CBGB was done.
3. Wayne (Jayne) County
The notorious transgendered singer Wayne County was a regular at CBGB during the 70’s. She first appeared at CBGB with her then band Queen Elizabeth, but decided to go solo soon after. Her antics on the CBGB stage are the stuff of legend with her outrageous costumes and over the top theatrics. One particularly famous story of her days at CBGB is when her rival “Handsome” Dick Manitoba of The Dictators stepped on the stage while she was performing to get to the bathroom. Assuming he was going to attack her, she responded by picking up the microphone stand and breaking his collarbone with it. Despite her violent outburst she remained a regular fixture at the club and continued performing there until it closed.
4. The Misfits
The Misfits, fronted by Glenn Danzig, are among the most well-known bands to be born out of CBGB. The group performed on stage for the first time together at CBGB’s Audition Showcase night in April of 1977. Within the next 8 months their first album was recorded and they began their long careers as the definitive horror punk band.
5. The Damned
On their first trip to America The Damned became the first of British descent to ever play at CBGB. As Dave Vanian led the group on vocals in a Victorian style outfit, drummer Rat Scabies picked a fight with an audience member from the stage, and bassist Captain Sensible body slammed himself against the stage floor with his bass as a buffer – and that was only the first song. During their second set that night they pelted the audience with pies they claimed had been sent to them by Mick Jagger, thoroughly winning over their American audience and further instilling CBGB as one of the most punk places on the planet.
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