CBGB: 10 Classic Moments That Helped Define the Birthplace of Punk
42 years have passed since iconic music club CBGB (aka the undisputed birthplace of punk) opened its doors. And even though only a handful of artifacts remain at the site of the club that once hosted music legends including the Ramones, Patti Smith, Guns N’ Roses and Talking Heads, history will forever remain at 315 Bowery in New York City.
Let’s salute the past with 10 classic moments that rocked CBGB:
The Ramones “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” (1977)
In October of 1977, Joey Ramone announced, “We got a brand new album coming out in about two weeks.” That album was Rocket to Russia. With acts like this on the bill, “New York City really had it all. Punk punk a punkrocker…” With punk then rising as an outlier format, the song peaked at a modest No. 81 on the Hot 100.
Talking Heads "Psycho Killer" (1975)
Footage courtesy of the film "Talking Heads: Chronology"
Following a Summer gig, opening for the Ramones, the Talking Heads, fronted by a then 23-year-old David Byrne, took the stage to play the band's “signature debut hit,” which also surprisingly didn’t chart high; peaking at No. 92 on the Hot 100. Not to mention, “Psycho Killer” was the only song from their album Talking Heads: 77 to appear on the charts.
Guns N' Roses “Patience” (1987)
Following “Used To Love Her,” GnR takes a sip of beer before Axel, wearing his signature bandana and glasses, asks the band, “You guys wanna try Patience?” followed by a disclaimer “I’ve sang this song once, we’ve played it together twice.” Cue Slash taking a swig of Jack Daniels followed by Axel admitting, “I have to read the f---ing words.” Cue whistling. Everyone begins swaying at the 22:15 mark, around the time Axel takes the track, that would peak at No. 4 on the Hot 100 in 1989, to another level.
Patti Smith "Elegie" (2006)
Often called the "Godmother of Punk," Patti Smith’s performances at CBGB were so legendary, she played the final song before the club closed its doors in 2006.
Patti sings the fitting lyrics “I think it's sad, it's much too bad, that our friends can't be with us today” and at 3 minutes in, lists off names of those who had passed away over 33 years of CBGB, including The Clash’s Joe Strummer. She then signed off, “Farewell CBGB.”
The song is from her debut album Horses, which peaked at No. 47 on the Billboard 200 chart in 1976.
Hole “Garbadge Man” (1991)
No one can deny the powerhouse that is Courtney Love. It was the early ‘90s and Hole was playing gigs to support their critically acclaimed debut album, Pretty on the Inside. "Thank you, we're the Red Hot Chili Peppers," Love jokes. The intentionally misspelled “Garbadge Man” was the band’s first song to have a music video.
Green Day “Longview” (2000)
What’s bigger than Green Day playing their debut single “Longview” at CBGB, is the fact that apparently they weren’t scheduled to perform that night. “When all else fails, pull out the hits,” Joe joked. And a hit it was. The song that describes intense boredom peaked at No. 1 on the Alternative Songs chart in 1994.
Blondie “Youth Nabbed As Sniper” (1977)
Picture this: In between song, Blondie faced the crowd and casually opened up the July 15, 1977 issue of the New York Post (with colossal headline) “24 Hours of Terror.” The headline refers to the New York City blackout; a fitting intro into a song about infamous serial killer “Son of Sam,” who was on a killing spree in New York City at that time.
Joan Jett “I Love Rock 'n' Roll" (1977)
In 1977, Joan Jett and The Runaways performed the infamous rock anthem "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," which held the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100 for seven straight weeks in 1982. “So put another dime in the jukebox, baby.”
Television “Blank Generation” (1974)
Social Distortion “Ball and Chain” (1992)
Before belting out their concert staple, Southern California punk rock band Social Distortion reminisced about the early days as a garage band and not giving a f--- what anybody thought. “This song may not sound like a hardcore song, but the lyrics are about reality. That’s about as hardcore as it gets.” The track, off their self-titled album released in 1990, peaked at No. 13 on the Alternative Songs chart.