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  • Writer's pictureMarcella

8/16/74, The Ramones played their first gig at CBGBs

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

Mural across from CBGB on Bowery and Bleecker. By street artists John Matos (@crashone) and Solus (

On August 16th, 1974, The Ramones played their first gig at CBGBs.

In the 1970's New York City was undergoing an unparalleled transformation fueled by economic collapse and rampant crime.  The middle-class were fleeing to the suburbs and the city kids left behind were poor, angry, bored, and looking for a purpose. If they happened to be anywhere near CBGB's on August 16th, 1974, they found it when The Ramones took to the small and famously filthy stage. "One, two, three, four"! The sound was raw and raunchy, loud and defiant and made no sense to the established rules of music. It was a "three-chord assault" on the senses, backed with lyrics about violence, drugs, boredom, and prostitution, everything kids were experiencing in their daily lives. Not giving a damn about the mainstream, radio-friendly album orientated rock that was shoved down their throats everywhere from FM radio to mega arena concerts, this noise was a revelation and a wake-up call. It liberated the youth from the corporate over-produced sounds of their older siblings and inspired a whole new anti-establishment movement called Punk Rock. The Ramones went on to play over 70 gigs at CBGB OMFUG (whose name ironically stood for Country BlueGrass Blues Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers) in that year alone and helped to solidify the East Village dive bar as the cutting edge scene for a generation of youth hungry for an alternative sound that matched their anger.  The club closed in October 2006 and is now a high-end clothing boutique, a victim of gentrification. In 2013, the CBGB’s building at 315 Bowery, was added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the National Bowery Historic District.

Now, in case you forgot, here's some Blitzkrieg Bop!!


The Ramones outside of CGBG, 1975 (Photo: Bob Gruen)

Desolation Row, 1970's NYC (The New York Times)

Subway graffiti, 1970's NYC (National Archives and Records Administration)

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