all photos and montage: JR Rost
go to full size graphic page
with download hi-res image available
To Hilly's hi-res graphics download gallery
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...
As manager of Brooklyn-based band the Shirts (from Brooklyn), Hilly steered the band during their brush with big-time showbiz.
Shirts' home at the Stereo Society
Mad Mordechai is Hilly Kristal's only ever CD, containing a long 1991 version of his classic Mud . The little wiggly pig dances on.....
A Muddy History - the making of Mud
To the Xmas version of Mud
Celebrating 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
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.
Hilly Kristal in interview, 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. I don't know when my voice changed--maybe at fourteen, fifteen. So, I sang pop music. I sang in the chorus. We had little shows and I started getting interested in singing when I was a teenager. I was always...
Unauthorised Liner Note
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
To CBGB's home at the Stereo Society
To the official CBGB website