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Hilly Kristal

Hilly died in his sleep on the morning of August 28 2007, aged 75. He had suffered lung cancer and complications from its treatment for over a year.

There was a small memorial service for family and close friends, and then a larger affair, with many spoken recollections by people touched by his work, at the Bowery Ballroom.

We will miss him, but his work and achievements will persist. We will continue to have fun enjoying his positive and pro-active musical legacy.

JR Rost, who was always at the heart of the CB’s action (and designed Hilly’s CD cover among many of the Stereo Society’s releases) had assembled a montage to be given to the boss on an appropriate day of celebration, and was signed by a number of well-known well-wishers. Now, this isn’t to be. Here is the graphic part, posted with love on August 29 2007.

all photos and montage: JR Rost

Download a hi-res copy of this image (3.8Mb)
free for media reproduction with credit to JR Rost

photo: JR Rost

Download a hi-res copy of this photo (690Kb)
Reproduction cleared for publication if the phographer is given credit

Hilly Kristal in interview, 1987
Hilly Kristal has been managing downtown music clubs since the late ’50s, beginning at The Village Vanguard, then with his own club, Hilly’s on Ninth Street in the late ’60s (in the space that is now Village restaurant), and finally at Hilly’s on the Bowery, later renamed CBGB.

With Ron Delsener, Kristal began the popular Rheingold-Schaeffer concert festival in Central Park. At CBGB, Kristal was at the center of a seminal New York music scene which launched the careers of such influential artists as Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Blondie and The Ramones…
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Hilly Kristal interviewed by Mike Thorne, May 1999
I guess I was always going to be into music.  I was raised on a farm, but used to go to concerts in New York and Philadelphia.  I think I always felt I was going to do something in music: maybe as a violinist, maybe as a composer.  It was, more or less, classical music for me then.  I think I probably started singing as a teenager.  Actually, I had a low voice as a kid, but it got even lower.
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An Unauthorised Liner Noteby Mike Thorne
Hilly Kristal is a traditional kind of character, and his record deserves a traditional sleeve note.  Most people know him only as the owner of CBGB, the rock and roll club on the Bowery in New York City, possibly the most famous in the world in its day.  For 25 years it was a focus for the city’s pop music invention.  Few people know that Hilly sang as a regular on the stage of Radio City Music Hall…
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The Shirts on stage at CBGBAs manager of Brooklyn-based band the Shirts, Hilly steered the band during their brush with big-time showbiz.
To the Shirts’ home at the Stereo Society

Mad Mordechai
Mad Mordechai is Hilly Kristal’s only ever CD, containing a long 1991 version of his classic Mud The little wiggly pig dances on…..

Quagmire Corner
A Muddy History – the making of Mud
To the Xmas version of Mud

HKpcRd140.gifCelebrating the 2005 holidays, short and extended versions are available all year round now for paid download, along with the Barnyard Breakdown.

Download a free mp3 and a bit of history:
Hilly’s 1976 CBGB holiday single, A and B sides:
Mud (original 1976 version)
I Wish You A Merry Christmas