Blondie

  • New Wave band formed in 1974 from New York New York. The key members during their most popular period were Debbie Harry (lead vocals, songwriting), Chris Stein (guitar, bass, songwriting), Clem Burke (drums, backing vocals), Jimmy Destri (keyboards, backing vocals, songwriting), Frank Infante (guitar, backing vocals), and Nigel Harrison (bass, songwriting).
  • Harry and Stein first played together in a band called The Stilettoes in 1973 – Harry was a vocalist in the group and Stein played guitar. Soon, they had a romantic relationship. Prior to this, Harry was in a folk-rock band, called The Wind in the Willows, and she also was a Playboy bunny. Harry and Stein left The Stilettoes, and they formed a new band with some of their previous bandmates. They played 2 shows as Angel and the Snake, and then in October 1974, they changed the name to Blondie, in reference to the catcalls that Debbie Harry got from truck drivers.
  • Over the next year, there were several changes in band members. During this time, they became regular performers at New York City punk rock clubs. In June 1975, they cut a demo recording, and later they were signed by a record company. Their debut album, the self titled Blondie, was released in 1976. It went nowhere, and in 1977, they bought back their contract and signed with another label. The album was re-released later that year by their new record company. The first market where they had success was in Australia – the song In The Flesh reached #2 on the charts there.
  • In 1978, 2 albums were released – Plastic Letters and Parallel Lines. The first performed well in the UK, but nothing charted in the U.S. That changed with Parallel Lines – the album hit #1 in the UK and #6 in the U.S., thanks to the #1 single Heart Of Glass. The song was an old rock-reggae song that they had performed for years, that was reworked into a disco-infused track. The video was wildly popular, and Harry soon became a celebrity while the rest of the band was largely ignored by the media. Rolling Stone ranks the song #259 on their Greatest Songs of All Time list. Also on the album was One Way or Another, a signature song for the band. Rolling Stone ranks it at #305 on their GOAT list, and they rank the album #140 on their Greatest Albums list.
  • The next album was 1979’s Eat To The Beat. It was their second #1 album in the UK, and it peaked at #17 in the U.S. The song Dreaming reached #2 in the UK, and #27 in the U.S. The song Atomic topped the charts in the UK, and reached #39 in the U.S.
  • In 1980, they contributed the song Call Me to the soundtrack for the film American Gigolo. It was the main theme song to the movie, and it became the biggest selling single of the year in the U.S., staying at the top of the Hot 100 chart for 6 weeks. Rolling Stone ranks it #289 on their GOAT list.
  • Two more albums were released in the early 80s. Autoamerican was popular, containing 2 singles that were major hits, topping the Hot 100 chart – The Tide Is High and Rapture. Their follow-up album, The Hunter, was a commercial disappointment, and the band split in 1982, 6 months after its release. They broke up due to growing tensions in the band, as well as a life threatening illness to Stein.
  • Harry embarked on a solo career, with modest success, while the other members pursued other projects. In the 90s, a new generation of fans discovered their old work, and there was interest in reforming the band. In 1997, the original five-piece group performed an outdoor concert in Washington D.C., and its success led to additional performances. An album, titled No Exit, was released in 1999. The single Maria became their sixth #1 song in the UK, 19 years after The Tide Is High topped the UK charts. Blondie is the only American band to have #1 singles in the UK in 3 different decades.
  • Four more studio albums have been released – the most recent, Pollinator, was released in 2017. Songs from these albums did not chart on the Hot 100 chart, though 2 songs, Fun and Long Time, from Pollinator, hit #1 and #5 on the Dance Club Songs chart.
  • Blondie was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, and Heart Of Glass was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2016. They were one of the defining sounds of New Wave music as it became popular in the late 70s, and as they evolved, they embraced other musical genres, like disco, pop, reggae and early rap music. Watch Debbie and the band perform Heart of Glass on the late night musical TV show The Midnight Special from 1979 – it includes an “anti-nuke” rant by Harry midway through the song.

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