CBGB Punk Photos by David Godlis 1976-1979


After finishing photo school in Boston, I came to New York City in 1976 looking for work. One winter night, I stumbled into CBGB’s to see the band Television. It wasn’t very crowded – in those days you could fit everyone who went to the place in one or two subway cars. But it didn’t take a genius to figure out that this was the most interesting thing happening in New York City in 1976. The right people were attracted like flies, the wrong people didn’t want anything to do with the dump. Pretty soon i would see The Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, Talking Heads, Suicide and countless other bands, where in the most unlikely of places, the slumping New York City’s infamous Bowery,  a small group of like minded musicians and artists had their sights set on the future.


I made it my business not to use flash. I “pushed” the film like crazy so I could shoot under the Bowery streetlights while everyone was hanging out between sets. I was committed to shooting at night – no flash – under natural light, which gave my photographs a unique look. I used a Leica 35mm camera with long, handheld exposures. I wanted to set down, on grainy film, what occurred in this particular place at this particular time. I was influenced by everyone from Diane Arbus to Robert Frank, from Brassai to Walker Evans, from Weegee to Garry Winogrand.

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