Posts Tagged ‘CBGB’

Left us on this day (May 31) in 2004: celebrated cult guitarist Robert Quine (suicide by heroin overdose, age 61, due to despondency over the loss of his wife);Robert Wolfe Quine (December 30, 1942 – May 31, 2004) was an American guitarist, known for his innovative guitar solos. he first came to prominence in the late-’70s with New York CBGB’s-scene band, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, but he was not your typical ‘punk rock’ guitarist – he embraced fractured guitar runs & discordant noise but also a wide range of jazz, rock & blues influences; his thoughtful technique & uncompromising approach led to stellar collaborations with many visionary musicians, including Lou Reed (notably on ‘The Blue Mask’), Brian Eno, John Zorn, Marianne Faithfull, Lloyd Cole, Tom Waits, Matthew Sweet (Matthew’s biggest hit, “Girlfriend,” is anchored by Robert’s frenetic, squealing guitar work), They Might Be Giants & many more; as a solo artist, he recorded the collaborative albums ‘Escape’ (1981, with Jody Harris) & ‘Basic’ (1984, with Fred Maher)…Lester Bangs wrote Someday Robert Quine will be recognized for the pivotal figure that he is on his instrument. He was among a series of innovative guitarists that worked intently with Lou Reed including: Mick Ronson, Steve Hunter, and Chuck Hammer. As a guitarist, Quine was influenced by the angular breakthroughs of early Lou Reed and James Williamson and worked through them to a new, individual vocabulary, driven into odd places by obsessive attention to On the Corner-era Miles Davis.

A short clip from the movie Blank Generation  Produced by Andy Warhol (1980), featuring Richard Hell and the Voidoids playing the song Blank Generation at the legendary punk club CBGB. Directed by Ulli Lommel,

Blank Generation” is the title track of Richard Hell and the Voidoids 1977 debut album Blank Generation. A rewrite of Rod McKuen‘s 1959 record “The Beat Generation,” Richard Hell wrote the new lyrics during his time with the band Television, and performed it live with another band, The Heartbreakers. The Sex Pistols‘ song “Pretty Vacant” was directly inspired by “Blank Generation”.

“Blank Generation” was previously released on the Another World EP in 1976. Other versions of the punk classic were available as demos and on one 1975 limited-edition pressing as well. An earlier live recording by The Heartbreakers, recorded at CBGB on July 7, 1975 appeared on the What Goes Around... album.Demo recordings of the song also have survived. A live March 1974 recording at CBGB with Television can be found on Spurts: The Richard Hell Story. 

Because Hell first performed the song when he was in Television, then he formed The Heartbreakers with Johnny Thunders & Jerry Nolan & this is the demo/version he did with them. Later they went their separate ways: Hell formed his own band, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, & would re-record the song – the version everybody knows and love, while Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers would go on to do Born To Lose, Chinese Rocks, etc.. The original song credits read: Dee Dee Ramone/Hell/Thunders/Nolan

 

television-performing

On this day in 31st March 1974,  The seminal rock/punk/alternative band Television began their Sunday night residency at CBGB, a former Bowery dive bar where band members built a stage for their debut performance.

Although Hilly had run Times listings using the name CBGB as early as the summer of ’1973, journalists have traditionally followed his lead in dating the name-change to December of that year. In March he hung a new awning out front and planned a Grand Reopening. Tradition holds that while he was hanging that awning, members of Television stopped by and asked him about the place. In March 1974, Television had played its first show, at a mid-town theater, and was looking for venues downtown. The band consisted of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd on guitars, Richard Hell on bass, and Billy Ficca on drums. Some combination of these guys – the details change depending on whom you ask – convinced Hilly that they were capable of playing country, bluegrass, or blues, or at least that they could bring friends to buy beer.

CBGB’s re-opening night, Wednesday the 20th, featured ridiculously cheap drink specials, followed by three nights of the Con-Fullam Band, a bluegrass act from Maine, but the next week he advertised three nights of Elly Greenberg’s country blues over a smaller, innocuous listing for Sunday: “ROCK Concert TELEVISION March 31.” Another ad for the first show, paid for by Television’s manager, foregrounds a photo of the band and also lists the “fancy guitar pickin’s” of Erik Frandsen.

Richard Hell, who came up with the band’s earliest image, wanted them to look like street kids, like Bowery Boys. They wore oversized thrift suits with torn shirts, sometimes held together with safety pins. They cut their hair short, rejecting glitter and hippies alike. They wanted to blend in with the bums on the street. A few years later, Malcolm McLaren, who had briefly hoped to take the band to London, gave up and created his own band there instead. The Sex Pistols’ look was directly lifted from Hell’s template for Television.

Television’s first Sunday shows at CBGB may or may not have attracted enough patrons to allow Hilly to make money from the bar, but they did lead to a confluence of interests and talents that would shape the local scene. Friends from the downtown film and lit circles, Warhol scenesters from Max’s Kansas City near Union Square, drag queens from the Bouwerie Lane made up the early crowd. The group’s biggest payoff came on the third Sunday of their residency, when Hell succeeded in getting his friends Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye to drop by and see his new band. Smith and Kaye were currently trying to get a band of their own off the ground, and Patti already enjoyed some celebrity as a rock poetess and critic. She wrote some of the band’s most influential early press, helping to cement its mythology.