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It was 50 years ago this week that the iconic NYC club CBGB opened its doors

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Fifty years ago this week, a club in the Bowery section of Manhattan opened its doors, and even then, I bet the bathrooms were repulsive. I'm talking about CBGB.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCKAWAY BEACH")

RAMONES: One, two, three, four.

INSKEEP: The club became an incubator for America's punk and new wave scenes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCKAWAY BEACH")

RAMONES: (Singing) Chewing out a rhythm on my bubble gum. The sun is out, and I want some.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ONE WAY OR ANOTHER")

BLONDIE: (Singing) One way or another, I'm going to find you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PSYCHO KILLER")

TALKING HEADS: (Singing) Psycho killer, qu'est-ce que c'est?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MARQUEE MOON")

TELEVISION: (Singing) I remember, ooh, how the darkness doubled.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GLORIA")

PATTI SMITH GROUP: (Singing) G-L-O-R-I-A. Gloria. G-L-O-R-I-A. Gloria.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

You awake yet? That was the Patti Smith Group, Television, Talking Heads, Blondie and the Ramones - just a few of the bands that honed their sounds at CBGB. Capacity? Just 350 lucky people.

INSKEEP: The owner, Hilly Kristal, originally had a different vision for the club. CBGB stands for country, bluegrass and blues. New York's rock scene took over.

MARTIN: The place was almost as famous for just how unglamorous it was. In 2005, NPR talked to someone who played there all the time, Richard Hell.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

RICHARD HELL: It was a dump. Charred Scotch permeated wood with beer signs in neon leading from the door down to the stage. I'm really glad that I was always very drunk by the time they turned the lights on at 4 a.m. 'cause you would not want to see that place with the lights on, so...

INSKEEP: The magic did not last forever, because CBGB closed its doors in 2006 and is now a menswear store - definitely not punk.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLANK GENERATION")

RICHARD HELL AND THE VOIDOIDS: (Singing) I was saying, let me out of here before I was even born. It's such a gamble when you get a face. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.