Tuesday, July 17, 2012

CBGB-OMFUG, short for Country, Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gourmandizers

A recent e-book by longtime tour manager Larry Butler gives Television singer and guitarist Tom Verlaine credit for making CBGB's cool. Here's how music-industry veteran Bob Lefsetz paraphrased Butler's account yesterday in his popular newsletter, the Lefsetz Letter: Hilly Kristal was an unwitting beneficiary of Tom Verlaine's inability to find anywhere to feature Television. Yup, Verlaine asked Hilly to play at CBGB, a relatively dead bar, on a dead night, Monday, and Television played to the usual suspects, a dozen friends of the band. But amongst that group was a reporter for the "Village Voice." Who concocted the story that Liza Minnelli had been seen there, back when she actually was a scenester, and the venue filled up the following week. And eventually Hilly asked Tom if he knew of any other acts that could play. Tom said Blondie, the Ramones, Talking Heads, Patti Smith...and the rest is history. Just over an hour later, Lefsetz forwarded to his readers an email from Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz. After praising Butler as a "good guy," Frantz dismissed the notion that Verlaine was responsible for inviting New York's founding legends of punk to play at CBGB. I don't think Tom ever recommended any band to play CBGBs and certainly not Talking Heads. I was the one who approached Hilly on our band's behalf. As far as I know, Tom Verlaine has never done a single favor for anyone...not even himself. An earlier account of Verlaine's role in establishing CBGB as an unlikely musical Mecca was published in Legs McNeil's seminal 1996 oral history of punk, Please Kill Me. According to the book, Verlaine's band mate Richard Hell had the idea to find a bar where Television could play once a week. Verlaine and Richard Lloyd, another member of the band, then happened upon CBGB, and persuaded Kristal to let them play on Sunday nights. After Verlaine became romantically involved with Patti Smith, she began playing with Television at the club. - The Huffington Post

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