I’ve known David Godlis’ photographs longer than I’ve known him. If you’ve read any number of books or New York Times articles about CBGB and related subjects, chances are you know his work as well. I finally befriended him 6 or 7 years ago during one of my frequent periods of unemployment. He needed some help scanning proofsheets, and I was able and willing. Listening to a mix of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Howard Stern broadcasts, we got to know each other pretty well.
The one surprising thing I found out was that he had never had a book published. “I’m working on something…” “I’m talking to some publishers…” “I may do a Kickstarter campaign…” These were the various things he said keeping things somewhat close to the vest. Well, he’s finally launched his Kickstarter campaign, and the response has been astounding. He met his initial goal of $30,000 within five days! Of course, if you’re interested in a limited edition copy of the man’s timeless work, you should still donate.
Godlis was generous enough to spend a few minutes talking about the CBGB days with us.
What did you shoot prior to discovering CBGB, and how did you discover the club?
Prior to arriving in New York City in 1976, I was a “street photographer,” trying to shoot like Diane Arbus, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander all rolled into one.
When I moved here from Boston and found some work, I began looking for a club or bar to hang out in that had music or a good jukebox. I guess all paths were leading to CBGB’s after I spied an issue of Punk magazine and saw the back of the Village Voice with those adverts for bands with odd interesting names – Blondie, Television, Ramones, Suicide. I had also seen a photo in Boston of Patti Smith and Bob Dylan in the summer of 1975. So, down to the Bowery I went and the rest is history.