“The Seventies” airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT Thursdays on CNN.
Photographer Rich Verdi spent the better part of 1977 and '78 taking photos at the legendary nightclub CBGB
The club was the epicenter of punk and Verdi's photos capture that time
One night in 1977, Rich Verdi’s friend took him to see a band called the Ramones.
They were playing at a New York nightclub called CBGB (the name stood for “country, bluegrass and blues,” which is not what it was ultimately known for). Verdi had no idea then that he was witnessing the rise of a new sound: punk..
A budding photographer, Verdi was on the lookout for a project and the club captured his imagination.
The club opened in 1973 and before long became the home to rockers like Blondie, Talking Heads, the Misfits and Joan Jett.
“I couldn’t believe the music scene, the people and culture,” he said, looking back on the era. “It was a small slice of New York, but had an energy like nothing since the anti-Vietnam era music.”
Immediately, Verdi recognized the music was different from anything else around. His images show not just the concerts but the entire vibe of the club.
Punk music emerged in the latter half of the 1970s, simultaneous with the more mainstream disco at the club Studio 54.
Of all the pictures he captured, Verdi’s favorite photo is that of Debbie “Revenge” Wheeler, an East Village resident and regular who knew just about everyone at CBGB. In the shot, she is lit by a bare bulb.
The legendary world of CBGB is now lost to music history; the club closed in 2006. But one can visit again just by glancing through Verdi’s photos.