On this day in 1974, the Ramones played their first gig at CBGB in the East Village

Posted On Wed, August 16, 2017 By

Posted On Wed, August 16, 2017 By In East Village, History, Manhattan

The Ramones outside of CBGB, photo via CBGB

On August 16, 1974, four men dressed in leather motorcycle jackets and Converse high-tops hit the stage at CBGB, an iconic East Village dive bar, for the very first time. After this debut performance, the Ramones, who hailed from Forest Hills, Queens, became the first regulars at CBGB, a spot known for the cutting edge punk rock musicians that played there, like Talking Heads, Patti Smith and Blondie. In the year 1974 alone, the Ramones played there over 70 times.


the ramones, cbgb, east village
The Ramones in 1976, photo via CBGB

The Ramone’s legendary first performance at CBGB, whose name ironically stood for Country BlueGrass Blues, pioneered New York City’s underground punk movement. The co-founder of Punk magazine, Legs McNeil, witnessed the group’s first show. “They were all wearing these black leather jackets. And they counted off this song…and it was just this wall of noise,” McNeil later said. “These guys were not hippies. This something completely new.”

The band members, who were not actually brothers, included Douglas Colvin, John Cummings, Thomas Erdelyi and Jeffrey Hyman, or better known as Dee Dee, Johnny, Tommy and Joey Ramone. The term “punk rock” did not become a genre describing the band’s music until 1975.

the ramones, cbgb, east village
The Ramones performing, photo via CBGB

After their historic Aug. 16 performance, the Ramones stardom skyrocketed and the band quickly became a punk rock phenomenon. The band’s 1976 self-titled debut album inspired groups like the Sex Pistols and the Clash to adopt a similiarly loud and instinctive approach.

the ramones, cbgb, east village
The Ramones in 1976, photo via CBGB

With the Ramones’ help, CBGB fostered new genres of American music and also reflected the culture of the East Village and downtown Manhattan in the 1970s. The club closed in October 2006 and is now a high-end clothing boutique. In 2013, CBGB’s one-time building, 315 Bowery, was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the National Bowery Historic District.

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Neighborhoods : East Village

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