Once upon a time, there was a dive bar in New York City called CBGB’s.
The owner, Hilly Kristal, never meant for it to become a big thing.
And no one would have thought Hilly was capable of creating anything of value.
He was divorced. Bankrupt (two times). For all intents and purposes, he looked like a loser.
But he was intent on owning a bar.
And not just any bar but a country and western bar.
He thought it was going to be a “big thing.”
So in 1973, he finally scraped enough money together to buy a ramshackle place in the Bowery District, filled with drunken bums and flophouses.
Not quite where you’d imagine dreams would be born.
CBGB stood for “Country, Bluegrass and Blues.” (Later he added the acronym OMFUG. It stood for “Other Music For Uplifting Gormandizers.”)
But something strange happened one day.
A band manager convinced Hilly to listen to his band and give them a chance to play on his rickety wooden platform.
Hilly agreed, on one condition. The music had to be original.
Now during that time, bands had to play other people’s popular music. To have such freedom to play one’s own music in a club was rare.
So that’s how a local band called Squeeze laid the foundation for what would become the American Punk Rock movement.
Squeeze’s music paved the way for the band, Television.
Which paved the way for Patti Smith, Deborah Harry (later starting her own band, Blondie), Talking Heads, the Ramones, the Dead Boys, the Fleshtones, The Police and more.
In David Byrne’s acceptance speech, when the Talking Heads were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he said if not for Hilly, they wouldn’t have been there.
Deborah Harry agreed and said it was because of Hilly’s support that any of the bands got noticed.
As she said, “He believed in us. He taught us how to deal with people… he taught us ethics. He fed us. He was there every step of the way.”
Hilly wanted to be part of the next “big thing.”
Somehow he stumbled upon creating the next “big thing,” which didn’t look anything like what he had envisioned.
He tested something different… and won.
This doesn’t seem to have much to do with headlines, but in a way, it does.
You never know what you’ll get when you start playing around with headlines.
The ones you think will score end up stinking up the joint.
And the ones that you take a chance on can end up getting inducted in your Marketing Hall of Fame.