Many years ago these photos of CBGBs were taken before the bands played on a wednesday when DJ Jason did lights for the club. They have been in storage for many years, but here they are for you to enjoy today.
The outside facade with it’s iconic CBGBs logo and awning… note the homeless person standing on the left from Project Rescue. They commonly would come in and start trouble. One time, the new night manager, Drew, got stabbed in the neck by one of them, but usually they would be manageable and the benefit to being next to Project Rescue was that they didn’t complain about the noise.
Here’s a detail of the Project Rescue entry and signage
On the other side, there was CBGBs Gallery. It was much larger than it’s parent, CBGBs, at 5600 square feet compared to 3200 sq. feet. (note: the basement level was the combined space of the other 2 clubs, so it was like 8800 square feet minus a little for the downstairs office, ice machines, recording studio, etc)
Not the best window display this time, but it changed regularly
This is the front office entry and that is Milo doing security and Brendan, the Nighttime General Manager
Here is Rodney Speed (RIP) on the computer in the upstairs office entry area across from security and door duty. Security and other idle staff would spend a lot of time watching The Simpsons on that TV with “Kill Me” on it.
Some office details including the playbill for the night
This is a curtain by the entry that was put in to deflect some of the noise since police would drive by and take readings when the doors would open. It often wasn’t in use.
This is looking backwards from the bar to the raised platform near the door entry
This is the view looking towards the stage in the distance from the front. The long bar is on the right and the pool table area is on the left riser. The pool table was removed years earlier after suffering much damage over the years.
A bar area… there were lots of stickers and posters that would routinely be torn down for more. These spots were the most coveted for flyers.
The “pool table area” (raised platform) at CBGBs near the entry. This was a good place to see bands on stage from a distance, if it was insanely crowded like during many of the “Save CBGBs” shows that happened before the club closed.
Here is another view from the pool table area that includes the bar and neon signs (each would be sprayed with black spray paint as soon as it came to the club, since they needed to be muted for it to be properly dark)
Here are some old Alchemy and Absolution club flyers on the bar post closest to the stage. Note the many layers!
Here is the beer list and many other signs at the bar
More details of the wall behind the bar
This is the employee-only fridge and second cash register
Here is the bar area closest to the stage
This is the main CBGBs cash register
Here is the soundman, Gabby (from the punk band Molotov Cocktail) in the sound booth
Gabby and his girlfriend in the sound booth
A sound booth detail including the Suckometer 3000. Everyone loved it, since it was so funny for bands that weren’t appreciated, although I think the red light had burned out by the time of this photo.
Here is the soundman’s view from the booth with the lights out
This is part of the new camera system that Hilly had put in for live streaming.
This is the view of the lighting booth “crow’s nest” and the ladder that goes there. Note the Action Cat Productions poster (RIP Steve Mach) with Cult of the Psychic Fetus and other bands to the right. Their iconic cat logo was drawn by Sara Landeau at CBGBs Gallery during Alchemy.
This is a ceiling view from the lighting booth looking back towards the soundbooth over the seated area
Here is a view of the stage from the lighting booth
This is the last lighting board that CBGBs used. There used to be a really old dimmer pack that was leftover from the Allman Bros. It would sometimes shock you when you plugged things into it, and it was rumored to have been lined with asbestos, so the newer equipment was a relief at the time.
This is the view looking back towards the front entry from the lighting booth over the bar’s beer storage area. (only bottles, no drafts)
Here is a closeup of the ceiling’s peeling paint and leftover insulation
Here is another detail with some of the many exposed pipes. One time a singer swung by one in CBGB’s basement and it broke. The whole basement was flooded. I had a Goth event, Absolution, there the very next day, so I was concerned, but it actually ended up being ok in time and the club was the cleanest it ever was for it’s bath.
Here is the view from the side of the stage near the backstage and stairs to the bathrooms
Here is one of the huge side fill stage monitors that were hung by chains for the stage
Here are some of the parcans over the stage
This shows much of the colored lighting. There were several different lamps there and some dated back to the 1970s.
These are the bathroom stairs. For many years, the men’s room had no door, which made it unfavored by the employees who would go next door to CBGBs Gallery to use the employee bathroom there instead.
This is the infamous CBGBs Men’s Room. In actuality, it was much cleaner than the majority of east village places at the time. Mohammed and Rodney cleaned it everyday, unlike the most foul nearby bathrooms at Mars Bar or Korova Milk Bar… and countless other places back then. It just had a different aesthetic.
This is another detail of the flyers and posters on the way to the exit
A shot of some of Hilly’s memorabilia and other things above the exit
The exit doors… to the right are the back stairs to the basement level
Here’s a poster for Joey Ramone’s birthday, as well as the ATM on the way to the lower level. People that weren’t staff weren’t supposed to use that stairwell at all, but frequently Goths and Punks used to sneak into Absolution via that unlocked back entry, since the crowd going into CBGBs was thick and the security couldn’t always catch them
Bonus shot; This is the employee bathroom at CBGB’s Gallery. The blue plastic bag holds the mirror ball that was used at Alchemy.
I hope you enjoyed the tour.
Cheers, DJ Jason