Richard Hell is most famously recognized as the co-originator of the punk band Television. With his close friend Tom Verlaine, Hell and Television became one of the first bands to play CBGB's, the anonymous downtown New York bar that would become
Ground Zero for all things anti-establishment. Hell--born Richard Meyers in Lexington, Kentucky--was there, and here he talks about the experience and what brought him to that moment.
Here in an earthy and reveal excerpt, the author/musician describes the first time he passed through the hallowed portal of CBGB's.
I walked into this bowery dive called C.B.G.B. on a Sunday night in April. The first thing I noticed was that it smelled like dogshit. Then I saw the damned dog. Three or four girls were dancing and being totally ignored by the handsome young gents at the bar. 'Talk Talk' by the Music Machine was playing loudly enough on the jukebox to preserve your privacy.
The writing is crisp, earthy and focused in much the same way that Hell's lyrics were.
The book tracks his evolution from a member of Television to the formation of the Heartbreakers with Johnny Thunders, followed by his time working with Robert Quine in the Voidoids. This latter band scored a deal on Sire Records and would tour the UK opening for
The Clash. Along the way were the flirtations with drugs, which culminated in his non-stop addiction to heroin and cocaine.
Hell is unashamedly honest in his self-portrayal, and anybody fascinated by the music he made will be equally transported by his prose.