Not too long ago I decided to look into the matter of the CBGB awnings. There wasn't a specific "matter" to investigate, but I had my reasons. They were twofold: 1) I wanted to know how many real CBGB awnings existed, since replicas have popped up everywhere from Los Angeles to Newark Airport; and 2) I wanted to know where the others (not in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame) were located today.

My quest revealed that there were at least three authentic awnings: the original, one or more replacements, and the final awning that's now in the museum. Only the location of the latter was known... until now.

An awning in Angelino Heights, Los Angeles

An awning (likely a replica) in Angelino Heights, Los Angeles

An awning (likely a replica) in Angelino Heights, Los Angeles
Navid Baraty / Gothamist

But let's back up first. During my initial dive into the matter of the awnings, Louise Staley, who was head booker and basically ran the club from 1986 until the last day, told me it's long been believed that the band Jody Foster's Army (JFA) stole the original awning after their gig in the 1980s—"rumor has it they hung it in their backyard." This was backed up by others at the club, though JFA never responded to my request for comments and confirmation (no one's going to arrest you guys!).

Read More: The Original CBGB Awning & The Conspiracy To Cover Up Its Location

The second awning, I was told by one of the club's bookers, Brendan Rafferty, was thrown out by the late owner Hilly Kristal, but "rescued from a dumpster by a former CBGB employee. Its exact wherabouts are unknown." Well, we found it. Or rather, it found us.

Drew Bushong is the employee that found the awning, sometime around 2004, which he took home.

"I worked there for six years as the manager," Bushong told me, "The story's pretty uneventful. Went to Mars Bar after a long Monday night audition of 6-7 forgettable bands... and on way back to my motorcycle parked out front of club, I saw the box [with the awning] that had been sitting above my desk for five months on the street next to the trash bags. Put it on back of my bike and drove home... Thought one day maybe I'd open a home bar with it. It's pretty dirty and dingy." Also, Bushong believes there may be four or five awnings, not just the three we have been tracking down.

"I think four or even five total," he told me. "I have the one that was around for Joey [Ramone]'s memorial," circa 2001. As to where those other ones are, if they exist, Bushong told me there's a rumor that "Spike Lee had one at some point, [and] another rumor is that Freddy Madball stole the left corner of the 4th awning."

Read More: A History of the CBGB Awnings

Little Josh Lozano, Hilly and Louise's old assistant, believes there were four awnings, and that Spike Lee actually put a replica up (perhaps during filming Summer of Sam in the late '90s). He told me, "I started there in '97 and the one up there had been there for a long time. That's the one that I was most familiar with in pictures. At some point I remember Hilly replacing the second one... I'm not sure if it was because Spike Lee gave him the replica he made... I think the Spike one was up for a little bit. I know the one that was up during the closing years was only up there for a brief period. Maybe two years or less. It was a softer material than the previous ones."

Along with Staley and Rafferty, Bushong also believes JFA has that original awning, telling me, "I heard there's a pic of them under it, in their back yard and barbecuing." Until they decide to confirm and send me a photo of the original awning, Bushong has come through in a big way with his piece of Old Bowery history.

Recently Bushong and Little Josh very briefly returned the CBGB awning to its old home to capture photos for this article. Little Josh says this one has some hand painting—"there were tags in the 'C' so Hilly asked me to paint it, but I couldn’t match the color so I painted all the letters." He had to paint the awning more than once when bands tagged it, "which infuriated Hilly," he told me. "I remember getting up there several times and painting it."

During their time holding the awning up, the "Varvatos fashionistas" asked if they could bring it inside for some photos—"I imagined we'd be there for hours watching 'em do selfies so we brushed 'em off pretty good. Some Australian guy walking by said he missed it and loved seeing it again."

Photo by Rainer Turim

"We had some good times under that awning," Bushong said, but added, "It was the awning I was stabbed under." Which is a story for another time...