70s Music

History of Blondie

BlondieThe band’s career at a glance

Blondie is an American punk/new wave band, formed in New York City in 1974. The band achieved hits such as “Heart Of Glass”, “One Way Or Another”, “Dreaming”, “Call Me”, “The Tide Is High” and “Rapture”. The band split in 1982 and reunited in 1997; two years later they achieved a #1 hit again (albeit in the UK) with “Maria”. The group has continued to tour and record. Blondie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2006.

Early career

Among the pioneers of the mid-1970s American punk and new wave scene, Blondie emerged to be one of the most commercially successful acts. They were formed by sweethearts Deborah “Debbie” Harry (vocals) and Chris Stein (guitarist), both of whom were also members of a previous band The Stilettos. Prior to the Stilettos, Harry had also been a member of another band The Wind in the Willows during the late 1960s.

Harry and Stein formed Blondie in 1974 in New York; they would also write the bulk of the band’s hits. After some lineup fluctuations, Clement Burke (drums), Gary Valentine (bass) and James Destri (keyboards) joined the following year. This lineup produced their debut album Blondie, released on Private Stock record label, in 1976. The following year, Valentine left and was replaced by Frank Infante.

Blondie later moved to Chrysalis Records and released their second LP Plastic Letters in 1978. It was in the UK where the American punk-new wave rockers first found fame and commercial success. Plastic Letters was a hit on the British charts, as were its singles “Denis” (their cover of Randy and the Rainbows’ original hit 1960s hit “Denise”) and “(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence.” Both of these singles made it to the UK top ten.

 

Breaktrhough success in both UK and US

Blondie released their third album Parallel Lines (1978) which was helmed by British record producer Mike Chapman. It was an international breakthrough album for the band. Parallel Lines topped the British album charts, and also went to #6 on the US Billboard 200 and eventually was certified platinum. In Canada Parallel Lines was a huge multiplatinum hit. The album’s success was helped by the singles “Sunday Girl” (a #1 UK hit), “Hanging On The Telephone Line” (a UK #5 hit), “One Way Or Another” (at #27 on the US Top 40 chart), and most of all, “Heart Of Glass,” which went to #1 on both sides of the Atlantic. The disco-fied number has remained Blondie’s most identifiable song.

 

In 1979 Blondie issued their fourth album Eat to the Beat; it became another platinum hit. It featured the single “Dreaming,” which made it to the top 10 UK singles chart and the American Top 40. The band also collaborated with German disco producer Giorgio Moroder on a track titled “Call Me,” which became the soundtrack of the motion picture American Gigolo. “Call Me” gave Blondie their second US #1 hit, and third UK #1.

 

Later career

Blondie releasd their fifth album Autoamerican in the autumn of 1980. It featured the singles “The Tide Is High” — a reggae-influenced number which gave the band their third #1 transatlantic hit — and “Rapture” which again topped the US chart and went to #5 on the UK chart.

Despite the success of their recent work, things otherwise weren’t going so well within the band. Infante sued the band, stating that he wasn’t being used onAutoamerican album in particular. The suit however was settled out of court, and Infante remained in the band. Around this time, several members were also trying their hands on respective solo projects, with Harry embarking on an acting career. Harry released her solo album KooKoo, which became certified gold.

Eventually, Blondie started to experience commercial failures in their subsequent records. To make things a bit worse, Stein was gravely ill with a rare condition called pemphigus vulgaris, an autoimmune disease. As a result, Blondie disbanded in late 1982.

Harry attempted to further build her solo career while taking care of Stein (who would miraculously recover from his illness). But with all of the financial and personal stress brought upon them, the couple split. Both of them continued in their professional collaborations with each other.

Blondie’s classic lineup — Harry, Stein, Destri and Burke — reunited in 1997. They were set to do a European tour, which would be their first live gig in a long time. In 1999 they released their first album in seventeen years, No Exit. It peaked at #18 on the US Billboard 200 and #3 on the UK album chart, eventually going gold there. Blondie’s comeback single “Maria” only managed to score a minor position on the Hot 100, but over in the UK it became their sixth #1 hit, proving their popularity in the British music scene once more. Blondie released two more albums The Curse Of Blondie (2003) and Panic Of Girls (2011). In 2008 Blondie celebrated the 30th anniversary of Parallel Lines‘ release with a world tour. They have continued to do regular touring up to this day.

Blondie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, and their rock legend is already assured. However, Blondie refuses to rest on their laurels yet so to speak, and as of this writing they are working on their next album Ghosts Of Download which is slated for release in 2014.

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