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6 NYC Punk-Rock Clubs That Set The Stage For Music Legends

By Bianca Bahamondes

6 NYC Punk-Rock Clubs That Set The Stage For Music Legends
New York City is rich in music history. Countless legends have gotten their start playing at bars and nightclubs across the city, with certain areas being particular hotbeds for both punk and rock’n’roll mischief.

While most of the bars weren’t specifically dedicated to punk-rock and were open to a variety of talented artists, there are some notable bands that have been formed or have risen to stardom from performing at these venues. Think the Ramones, Blondie, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, David Bowie, and so many more. Here’s a list of some of the most famous NYC clubs and even a tour where you can learn more about the punk rock scene primarily in the East Village and Lower East Side.

  1. CBGBs

Stig Nygaard from Copenhagen, Denmark [CC BY 2.0]
One of the most widely known dive bars, CBGBs went down in music history when it closed. A laundry list of punk bands played at this venue like the Ramones, Patti Smith Group, Talking Heads, the Heartbreakers, Misfits, Television, and so on.

2. 82 Club
Google Maps

Now long gone, Club 82 (or 82 Club) was originally known for its drag shows but quickly became a safe space for all with celebrity regulars and performances by rock bands like New York Dolls, Suicide, Patti Smith, Blondie, and Television. 

3. The Cafe Au Go Go
Cafe Au Go Go

Located in a basement off Bleecker Street, this club was the first place to host artists like Joni Mitchell and the Grateful Dead. Other famous musicians who played here included John Hammond Jr., Muddy Waters, Tim Hardin, Van Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix. Andy Warhol even premiered his film Harlot at this venue in January 1965, and comedians like Richard Pryor would perform here too.

4. Fillmore East
Fletcher6 [CC BY-SA 3.0]
What’s now a bank by Second Avenue and Sixth Street was at one time the Fillmore East. Although it had a short lifespan, only making it three years from 1968-1971, acts like Jimi Hendrix, the Kinks, Led Zeppelin, and the Grateful Dead played there plenty during that time. Grateful Dead performed at the venue 43 times over the course of the three years! Frank Zappa, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono were among the celebs who frequented the rock space.
5. Max’s Kansas City
Before it was Fraiche, it was Max’s Kansas City / Photo: Google Maps

When we think of Park Avenue today, punk-rock doesn’t exactly come to mind. But in the 60’s and 70’s things were much different. Max’s Kansas City was a restaurant and nightclub hat hosted artists of all mediums, but fans of the Velvet Underground may recognize it as the final place the band performed. Lou Reed, Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, Iggy Pop, and Aerosmith were also among the artists who performed here. Bob Marley even opened for Bruce Springsteen here once!

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6. Mudd Club
Google Maps

Mudd Club was a go-to for underground music and a driving force in the counterculture movement of the 80’s. Experimental performances were the norm. Here you’d find Lou Reed, the B-52’s, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Madonna, and even Betsey Johnson on any given night. The club is even mentioned in songs by the Talking Heads, the Ramones, and Frank Zappa.

Take a tour of some other notable dives and learn about East Village punk-rock history, here! 

featured image source: Brunoscopio [CC BY-SA 4.0]


Also published on Medium.