Hilly Kristal, Marine, East Village Entrepeneur and Chef, Dead At 75

Posted in New York, New York, Rock Und Roll at 11:48 am by

For every Television, there was an Inflatable Boy Clams. For every Ramones, there was a Rude Buddha. For every Agnostic Front…there was Agnostic Front. You get the idea.

(left to right : Hily, Paul Simon. Not shown : Jimmy Gestapo, Donny The Punk)

An inconsistent booking aesthetic and life threatening chili aside, we’ll choose to remember the late Hilly Kristal fondly, and for all the “it’s not as good as it used to be” grumblings about CBGB’s (some of which, to be fair, started in 1978) there’s no disputing that some of the greatest shows we ever witnessed took place on the Bowery between 1st and 2nd.

Heck, some of ’em even took place inside the club.

9 responses to “Hilly Kristal, Marine, East Village Entrepeneur and Chef, Dead At 75”

  1. Mike Stuto says:

    CBGB was on Bowery between 1st and 2nd streets…. no offense – I myself confused CBGB with the Island Lounge on several occasions…

    Many people have commented about the grumpy/angry disposition of Mr Kristal (and virtually every other CBGB employee). But as a formerly grumpy club booker/owner who has a pretty good idea of how that grumpiness/anger manifests itself, I think Hilly deserves a ton of credit for sticking to his “ideals” for so long. Has anyone ran a small rock club for even half as many years as CBs without being cast as a curmudgeon, crazy, grumpy, etc etc? I’m not excusing his (or my own) short temper, but whatever his personal or professional flaws were, and whatever one might think about the bands that were booked there in the past decade, this man really was committed to giving stage time to bands that otherwise would not have that chance. Lets hope that fact informs his legacy as much as the other stuff…

    Rest In Peace Hilly…

  2. GC says:

    well put, Mike. Though perhaps this is my own NYC bias, I never thought Hilly was any grumpier than most people in that position (ie. any small business owner in that ‘hood)

  3. Joel Hunt says:

    since it’s been closed for a while now, i’m not sure how the phrase “it’s not as good as it used to be” is even applicable…

    though some of cstb’s more cynical readers would perhaps disagree.

  4. GC says:


    though I’d like to claim my reference to “it’s not as good as it used to be” was the sort of thing that was uttered when the joint was open, I was really talking ’bout the CBGB t-shirt store on St. Mark’s Place. That’s not as good as it used to be, either.

  5. Joel Hunt says:

    well at least we can all go sing karaoke near to that t-shirt shop now!

  6. GC says:

    I’ll pass. They don’t have any Cro-Mags songs at that place.

  7. Joel Hunt says:

    but they do have “Pretty In Pink!”

  8. Don says:

    A friend of mine claims to this day to have been dosed on LSD while eating the chili. I think of some goofy employee thinking it’s funny to put something in the chili, not realizing that half the crowd was paranoid and anxious and sure to get a bad trip out of the deal.

  9. Repoz says:

    Damn, I missed this while on vacation (and when is that CBGB’s South opening in Seaside Heights?)…sad news about Hilly (one good thing I can say about him…at least he didn’t cold cock me like Bill Graham once did!).

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