Friday, July 11, 2008


Numerous web sites, Official Blondie Web Site, Blondie At My Space, Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame - Blondie, Rolling Stone - Discography of Blondie, & Starpulse - Blondie were quite helpful in preparing my tribute to Blondie. Please click on the hyperlinks to enjoy these web sites.

Inducted, Deborah Harry (vocals; born July 1, 1945), Clem Burke (drums; born November 24, 1955), Jimmy Destri (keyboards; born April 13, 1954), Nigel Harrison (bass; born April 24, 1951), Frank Infante (guitar; born November 15, 1951), Chris Stein (guitar; born January 5, 1950), Gary Valentine (bass; born December 24, 1955) into the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, as performers, on March 13th, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 21st annual induction dinner. Shirley Manson, of Garbage, is their presenter.

Blondie emerged as the great pop icons of New York's celebrated late '70s new wave punk scene by defying easy categorization. They wrote great rock hooks and brilliant, ironic lyrics. They had the hippest clothes and the coolest hair. Deborah Harry went from the pages of Punk magazine to being on the cover of just about every mainstream publication on the newsstands.

Striking a balance between edginess and catchiness, Blondie enjoyed hit records and artistic credibility - a best-of-both-worlds situation that few others (the Police, The Cars and Talking Heads come to mind) pulled off in that era. Blondie could number Robert Fripp and David Bowie among their pals, and they fearlessly dabbled in such genres as reggae, rap, disco and a touch of the avant-garde. Yet they also maintained ties to the tuneful, ear-catching Sixties pop aesthetic.

Blondie’s origins lay in the glam-rock era of the early Seventies, when David Bowie, the New York Dolls and Lou Reed were jolting the rock scene with sexual ambiguity and campy behavior. In 1973, Harry - who’d worked as a Playboy bunny and tended bar at Max’s Kansas City - joined the Stilettos, a group fronted by three female singers. When Chris Stein joined, the seeds were sown for Blondie, which began performing under that name. The lineup stabilized with vocalist Harry, guitarist Stein, keyboardist Jimmy Destri, bassist Gary Valentine and drummer Clem Burke.

The band played the fabled New York downtown circuit of CBGB's, Max's Kansas City and Mothers, amassing a major following before recording their first album Blondie in 1976 for the Private Stock label. It was released in 1977 and was well received as the band toured in support of Iggy Pop and David Bowie.

In the summer of 1977, they released their second album, Plastic Letters, and toured Europe and Asia. In March '78, the single "Denis" hit #2 in the U.K. That summer, the band worked with producer Mike Chapman to hone their radio sound and create the album Parallel Lines, with the single "Picture This" going #12 in the U.K. and the follow-up, "Hanging on the Telephone," hitting #5. Blondie had their first #1 record in the U.S. with "Heart Of Glass," which also sold over a million copies in the U.K., with the album moving more than 20 million copies worldwide. The fourth single from Parallel Lines, "Sunday Girl," also hit #1 in the U.K.

Someone forgot to tell Blondie that New Wave bands weren’t supposed to have hit records. Their conquest was no minor feat, as it meant overcoming music-industry wariness about punk and New Wave, which challenged the established order. Blondie seemed more accessible than some of their radical colleagues, since they drew upon Sixties subgenres - girl-group pop and garage-rock - that had a still-familiar ring. At the same time, they spiked their songs with New Wave freshness, vibrancy and attitude. In so doing, Blondie helped usher in a changing of the guard.

One of the most popular bands of the New Wave era, Blondie hit the scene with visually arresting front woman Deborah Harry, a former Playboy Bunny. Her bleached-blond hair and full, pouty lips made her look the part of a new age Marilyn Monroe with a hint of punk hauteur (which paved the way for Madonna’s more risqué approach). “Looks have been one of the most saleable things ever,” Harry told journalist Karen Davis. “When I woke up to that, mine helped a lot.” Blondie’s striking visual image was bolstered by hooky, retro-chic pop tunes and canny art-rock leanings.

In the summer of 1978, Blondie is joined onstage at CBGB by Robert Fripp (of King Crimson) for an impromptu run-through of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.” The gesture presages their arty embrace of disco with “Heart Of Glass” in the coming year.

In September 1979, the band's fourth album, Eat to the Beat, was released, along with the first-ever album-length video. Before year's end, Blondie continued their chart presence in the U.K. with the #2 hit "Dreaming." By February '80, they landed another #1 U.K. single in "Atomic" and two months later scaled the U.S. charts a second time with "Call Me," from the Paul Schrader film, American Gigolo. Produced by Giorgio Moroder - the top Eurodisco producer - “Call Me” became Blondie’s second Number One single and stayed on top for six weeks. All of a sudden, a Lower East Side band who’d come up through the ramshackle CBGB’s scene found themselves with two Number One disco hits, which occasioned some backlash. Blondie stuck to their guns.

“We really tried to vary our music and not mimic ourselves,” Harry told Billboard. “We tried to be a little daring.” That venturesome spirit was further evident on Eat to the Beat (1979) and Autoamerican (1980). The latter album took a wide-angle view of popular music, and their fearless cross-pollination earned them two more chart-toppers: “The Tide Is High” (originally by Jamaica’s Paragons) and “Rapture” (which did for rap what “Heart of Gold” had done for disco). The inspiration for Harry’s offbeat rap was the campy science-fiction film Attack of the Giant Ants. Rap had theretofore been an underground phenomenon in and around New York, and Blondie’s hybrid rock-rap gave many listeners their first exposure to the genre.

The fifth Blondie album, Autoamerican, produced the #1 U.K. smash, "The Tide Is High," which duplicated that feat in the U.S. The band appeared on the popular TV show Solid Gold, and soon the album was solid platinum. Debbie released her first solo album, Koo Koo, produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of Chic and featuring a cover by H.R. Giger, the Academy Award winning sci-fi artist who created the Alien creature.

The band produced The Hunter in 1982, which included the single "Island of Lost Souls," their final U.S. hit before Chris was felled by a rare and often fatal genetic disease, pemphigus, which led to a sudden hiatus for the group.

Debbie went on to appear in numerous films and plays and to create music in various contexts. In recent years she has been the featured vocalist of the Jazz Passengers. Jimmy left music for a while to become a family man and contractor. Chris produced various bands in New York. Clem continued to record and tour with top acts. Sixteen years later the band members were used to being apart, but miraculously they were still talking. The friendships were still there. The doors were ajar. Responding to a request, they reformed to play a concert and had so much fun and found so much chemistry remaining that they decided to try to make some new music. That worked out so well that they re-formed and made a new album, No Exit, the seventh Blondie studio album, produced by Craig Leon, who had actually produced the band's first single, "X-Offender," and worked on the first album assisting producer Richard Gottehrer.

On June 28, 1990: The Ramones, Deborah Harry, and Talking Heads alums Jerry Harrison and the Tom Tom Club kick off their “Escape from New York” tour, revisiting the glory days of CBGB’s.

No Exit was a perfect, up-to-date evolution of Blondie - a great collection of perfectly crafted pop songs. The trademark elements were still there: that perfect, propulsive beat; Debbie's unmistakable voice, seductive, soulful yet ironic; atmospheric keyboards, sometimes lush, sometimes eerie; and brilliantly articulated guitar lines. It was an auspicious return, highlighted by the hit "Maria," which went to #1 in 14 countries. On February 13, 1999, “Maria,” enters the U.K. singles chart at Number One, making them the first act to have chart-topping singles in three different decades. The album sold more than two million units worldwide and, behind it, the band completed two tours of the U.S, the U.K. and Europe. The band returned with The Curse of Blondie, their 11th album, featuring 14 powerful new songs - probably the most musically varied and experimental album in the group's history.

Blondie's Live By Request CD and DVD came out on September 14, 2004, and the band released their Greatest Hits: Sight and Sound CD/DVD in the U.K. (which quickly went gold) to coincide with a British tour in November-December 2005. The package came out in the U.S. in spring 2006 on Capitol/EMI Music Catalog Marketing. Aside from including the groundbreaking videos made by the group between 1977-1982, the CD/DVD features the bonus track and video of "Rapture Riders," a mash-up of "Rapture" and The Doors' "Riders on the Storm." The group's Capitol/EMI Music Catalog Marketing release, The Best of Blondie, has been certified double platinum by the RIAA for sales of more than two million. One of the plaques was auctioned off to raise money to help the legendary CBGB's club in an attempt to stave off eviction from its downtown location.

In 2008, EMI will celebrate the 30-year anniversary of Blondie's Parallel Lines with a re-release of the iconic album that gave the band their first #1 hit in the U.S., "Heart Of Glass," and went on to sell over 20 million copies - an extraordinary feat achieved only by an elite club of artists. The reissue contains all the original classic tracks, along with instrumental versions, some vintage recordings previously available only on vinyl, plus exclusive video content. The timeless band that broke records and crossed boundaries with their unique style and music will hit the road again for a tour that will take them across the U.S. and Europe from summer through the end of the year. Debbie is rightfully proud of the band's hard work and accolades: "The guys have gotten really good at what they do. I mean, they always were good players and songwriters, but I think now you could say they're accomplished."

Blondie is currently on tour, world wide. Go to the Official Blondie Web Site for details.

Blondie - Discography

Main Releases

Parallel Lines: Deluxe Collector's Edition - 2008

Remixed Remade Remodeled: The Blondie Remix Project - 2006

Blondie: The Rhapsody Interview - 2006

Greatest Hits: Sound & Vision - 2006

The Best Of Blondie - 2005

Live By Request - 2004

Singles Box - 2004

The Curse Of Blondie - 2004

Best of Blondie [Collectables] - 2003

Greatest Hits - 2002

Exodus - 2002

Eat to the Beat [Bonus Tracks] - 2001

Blondie Is the Name of a Band - 2000

No Exit - 1999

Live in New York - 1999

Definitive Underground: Drum N Bass - 1999

Swing This, Baby!, Vol. 2 - 1999

Beautiful (Remix Album) - 1998

Picture This Live -1997

Denis - 1995

The Remix Project - 1995

The Platinum Collection - 1994

Blonde And Beyond: Rarities & Oddities - 1993

The Hunter - 1982

Once More Into The Bleach - 1980

Autoamerican - 1980

Eat To The Beat - 1979

Parallel Lines - 1978

Plastic Letters - 1977

Blondie - 1976

Blondie has a lot of quality songs, such as Call Me, Heart Of Glass, Maria, One Way Or Another, Rapture and The Tide Is High, among others…

Thanks, Blondie, for some great music…

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