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December 19, 2015

CBGB Scene – Incredible Photos Documenting Faces from the Heyday of US Punk Rock in the Late 1970s

CBGB was a New York City music club opened in 1973 in Manhattan's East Village. CBGB soon became a famed venue of punk rock and new wave bands like the Ramones, Television, Patti Smith Group, Blondie, and Talking Heads.

Dutch artist Bettie Ringma was there for its glory years, living just down the road, and took photographs with many of the bands who played...

Joey Ramone - “Joey Ramone was really a sweetie pie. At one point we had an exhibit of our photographs, and we made a whole board of pictures of Joey Ramone and me, which we’d sell for $1. Joey came and signed a whole bunch of those photos.”

Deborah Harry of Blondie - “Debbie Harry is a really great singer. She had a very different style from what was emerging there at that time. She was not shy, but she was very aloof: you can see that in the picture, hiding half her face behind her hair. It wasn’t something she needed, because she was very pretty, she was the frontwoman. But it gave her safety.”

Dead Boys - “They were a lot of fun – they were totally un-dead. Many of the bands were from the suburbs, so organising the car and the instruments was a big thing. They were super-happy and excited to get it all together and then perform and get paid a few dollars.”

Captain Sensible of the Damned - “He was hilarious, very playful. Kind of the opposite of David Byrne, of Patti Smith. He was very physical and vivacious. We only saw them once, because they came from the UK so they were on a visit.”

Richard Hell and the Voidoids - “Richard Hell still lives in the neighbourhood here. He was the frontman and the singer, and the others were the musicians. This is often what you see with these groups: he was a very jovial guy, the other two were kind of going along with the photo, standing there sheepishly. Group dynamics are fascinating.”

Patti Smith - “Patti Smith was hanging around at the bar, but no one was taking pictures of her because she was super-shy. She posed with me and then just went away: some musicians are like that, they’re not into socialising. They’re just artists.”

Nancy Spungen and Sable Starr - “I saw these two girls and they looked totally out of place there. It was a totally funky place, with everything tattered and run-down. And here were these dressed-up, long-haired girls. I said to Marc, these are not musicians, but let’s just take a picture with them. And then later Nancy Spungen became Sid Vicious’s girlfriend, and you know what happened there. Sad story.”

Johnny Blitz and Stiv Bators of Dead Boys and Miriam Linna of the Cramps - “Frankly, when I look at the picture I can’t really remember that moment, some of them just went like that. Most of the time I didn’t really have a big exchange with the bands, it was just a picture and goodbye.”

Ramones - “I just love the Ramones. When their music starts I can’t sit still, I just have to start hopping and dancing, and I’m 71 now. We saw them live about 10 times: we would go out of our way to see them perform.”

John Cale - “He was doing a totally different kind of music to the other bands: he was most similar to the Talking Heads, you could have a conversation with him. Some musicians just make music and that’s it, they’re not really much into conversation.”

Talking Heads - “They were a very different group of people: they came from a visual arts background, and I think they were also a little bit more intellectual compared to the others. I had a nice little chat with Tina Weymouth, the bassist. I thought it was pretty cool that a woman was the bass guitarist.”

David Byrne - “He was also a little shy, but it was fun.”

(All photographs: Marc H Miller and Bettie Ringma, courtesy of 98 Bowery)


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