[Photo via CBGB on Facebook]
Word is spreading that Karen Kristal, matriarch of CBGB, died this past weekend.
We don't have a lot of biographical information at the moment. She was in her late 80s. We will update this post when more details are available.
Tim Hayes, who owns the CBGB brand and is the founder of the CBGB Festival, said that "she made a huge impact on the music scene in NYC."
"She was the godmother of hardcore music in NYC," he told us. "She took care of the kids that came to CBGB and the hardcore shows on Sundays were all hers. Her role in CBGB was immeasurable and history has not done her justice yet. I will miss her deeply."
David Poe wrote this about her on the newly created CBGB: Punk and Hardcore page on Facebook:
"I will always remember Karen on Sundays checking id's and calling kids' parents when she sniffed out a fake one Her contributions to CBGB are well-known, and it's true enough that venerated space would not have existed as it did had it not been for her efforts. Karen was a true patron of the arts and embodied the indie spirit."
Here's more on her from a Village Voice article from September 2007:
Through the late 1970s to the early 1990s, Karen was a fixture at the door of CBGB and behind its bar. In that time, she developed a reputation, among patrons, bouncers, bartenders, and musicians alike, as a bit of a humorless hard-ass. Skinheads obeyed her command. The Ramones hid their joints when they saw her coming.
"I was more scared of Karen than I was of the skinheads," said George Tabb, a founding member of the False Prophets, former CBGB employee, and longtime Kristal family friend, as well as a reporter who covered the scene at the club for Maximum Rock'n'Roll. "They all had this respect for her. She put on the matinees — it was her idea, and that basically started the whole hardcore movement in New York."
Karen had been involved in an ugly legal battle over the estate of her husband Hilly Kristal following his death in August 2007. You can find the background of that suit at the Voice.