Originally formed in 1974 by the couple Deborah (Debbie) Harry and Chris Stein as the Angel and the Snake, they changed their name to Blondie towards the end of 1975. Getting their name from the amount of times truck drivers would shout “Hey Blondie” at Debbie Harry as they passed by, they would soon become known on the New York punk scene in venues like Club 51 and CBGB.
They secured a recording contract in 1976 with Private Stock Records and that same year would release their self-titled album, which would be re-released in 1977 with the addition of “Rip Her To Shreds” after Chrysalis Records from the UK bought up the company. From the 1976 album came their first single release, “X-Offender” with the B-Side being “In the Flesh”. The B-Side was the song that would become their first hit single after the Australian programme Countdown mistakenly played the video for it and it reached No. 2 in the Australian chart.
They released their second album Plastic Letters in 1977 and their first single release from it, the Grammy Award winning “Denis”, would reach No. 2 in the UK chart and pave the way for the group to become one of the first new waves bands from the United States to achieve success in the UK. Riding high on this success they released the album Parallel Lines, often seen as their breakthrough album, which would win them further Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album, Best Disco Recording for “Heart of Glass” and Best Female Rock Vocals Performance for “One Way Or Another”.
They would release many other albums over the next few years and they would constantly achieve a higher chart position in the UK than in the US. This was the same with their single releases where their only single to achieve a higher position in the US was “Rapture”.
In 1981 they decided to take a hiatus and Jimmy Destri and Debbie Harry both released solo albums as well as an offer to perform the song for the next James Bond film, For Yours Eyes Only. They had thought they were supposed to compose that theme song as well and when their composition was offered they were rejected as one had already been written and the offer to perform was given to Sheena Easton instead.
The group got back together in 1982 to release the The Hunter which delivered two relatively minor hits and later that year, after the members of the band becoming fed up with the focus on Deborah Harry alone and Chris Stein being diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness, they went their own separate ways. Debbie Harry retreated with Chris Stein through the years of his illness while the other members became session musicians.
A decade later the group began to gain a new fan base and were brought back to the public’s attention by artists such as Madonna and several hit compilations were released by Chrysalis Records. It came round to 1996 and Chris Stein decided to attempt to get the group back together and after unsuccessful legal attempts by previous members to stop them performing with the name “Blondie”, they reformed in 1998. They released the album No Exit in 1999, over two decades after their first, and it climbed up the charts with the single “Maria” being their sixth UK No. 1 and making them the only act from America to reach the top chart spot in the UK in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s.
They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2006 and in May of that year they also saw induction into the Rock Walk of Fame.
Past and Present Members
- Deborah Harry (vocals)
- Chris Stein (guitar)
- Clem Burke (drums)
- Jimmy Destri (keyboards)
- Leigh Foxx (bass)
- Paul Carbonara (guitar)
- Kevin Patrick (keyboards)
- Nigel Harrison (bass)
- Frank Infante (guitar)
- Gary Valentine (bass)
- Tish Bellomo (backing vocals)
- Eileen Bellomo (backing vocals)
Heart of Glass (Deborah Harry/Chris Stein)
11:59 (Jimmy Destri)