Punk bastion CBGB closes

The club CBGB has hosted its final concert after a 33-year residence in downtown New York as the iconic, grungy bastion of punk. The concert, headlined by rock poet Patti Smith, was the final note sounded in a drawn-out battle to preserve the legendary club.

A homeless advocacy group that owns the property is not renewing CBGB's lease, which expired in August last year. The club will close on October 31.

The closure has prompted protests, tributes and vigils for more than a year. Hailed by many as the birthplace of punk, the club was opened in 1973 and over the years helped spawn the careers of such acts as the Ramones, Blondie, the Talking Heads and Television.

In a vibrant farewell to the legendary punk-rock venue CBGB, Blondie singer Deborah Harry played a final show at the weekend in a tribute to the club that was a launching pad for her career.

Taking the tiny stage at the dank, crumbling club wearing red gloves and swaying her now strawberry blond hair, Harry sang many of the hits that made Blondie a wildly successful band in the 1970s an 80s.

She kicked off with "Hanging on the Telephone" and the 1980 hit "Call Me.

"This is a little weird, you know, but anything for old CB's," she told the capacity crowd that included young musicians, Blondie groupies and aging rock fans.

"What are we going to do now? Where are we going to go?" she asked before launching into "Tide Is High."

Harry, 61, played the acoustic set with Blondie guitarist Chris Stein that included "One Way or Another" and a cover of the Ramones song "I want to be your Boyfriend."

Rock poet Patti Smith - another regular at the club after it first opened in 1973 - will give the last show on Sunday.

The club in Manhattan's East Village - its full name is CBGB & OMFUG, or Country Bluegrass Blues and Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers - became the epicenter of the punk-rock scene launching bands like the Ramones and Talking Heads.

With lead pipes and chords dangling from the peeling ceiling, Harry gazed at the walls filled with posters and graffiti scribbled over three decades.

"CBGB's, oh my God what are we going to do? This is terrible. I think they should make wallpaper like this right?" she told the crowd after it urged an encore performance of "Heart of Glass."

- REUTERS

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