Little Stevie Says NYC Spit in Hilly Kristal’s Face


We asked for a comment from Little Steven Van Zandt about Hilly Kristal’s death and here’s what we got back:

Losing CBGB meant it was only a matter of time before Hilly followed.

It was his whole life.

He created the space to allow Indie Rock, Pop Art Rock, and Punk to be born.

There would be no Ramones without Hilly Kristal. And who would want to live in a world without them?

He loved this city and in the end, the city spit in his face.

CBGB was a tragic loss New York will never recover from and maybe its better Hilly doesn’t have to watch the town that invented personality slowly turn into the Mall of America.

Rock and Roll will miss him.

And a statement from Handsome Dick posted on the Dictators site:

For My Pal, Hilly Kristal….

I don’t know what life would have been like without CBGB’S, or Hilly. That’s because, for over 30 years, (uninterrupted) I played his club, watched others play his club, and visited Hilly and the staff.

From the early days of punk, in the mid 70’s, all the way up to closing time, last year, I got a smile (well, a “Hilly smile,” anyway, his sort of clenched grin) whenever I entered CBGB’S and saw him. He liked me. He liked The Dictators. I /We liked him. There was a special chemistry. A friendship chemistry, that comes from sharing something important in life with another person. It was a person, a time, a place, and an experience that was powerful and symbiotic, between Hilly Kristal, myself,and my band.

That was the thing that comes to mind when I think of Hilly. Let others detail and document what went on in the club, and the great accomplishments. I just want to remember that grin, whenever I entered CB’S to say “Hi.”

In the last coupla’ years I used to push my son Jake in his stroller, and visit, whenever I was near The Bowery. I came through the drug addled 70’s, where half of my contemporaries died from drugs, relatively unscathed, clean & sober. So it was with great pride when I entered CB’S for the first time, with Jake in tow, and said, “Hilly, this is my son, Jake.”

He always made me feel welcome … I always felt loved … whenever I entered Ceebs, and saw Hilly sitting there.

Another piece of me, another piece of my life died this week.

Bye Hilly, and thank you so, so much.



This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 29, 2007

Archive Highlights