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by Lee Knowles
Blondie are back in the charts, having shot straight to Number One after a fifteen year absence. During that time they split up, but they've now reformed to bring us more of the late seventies & early eighties punk that saw them dominate the charts.
It all started when Deborah Harry met Chris Stein at the C.B.G.B club where punk first began. In October 1973 they formed a musical and personal relationship. Debbie had previously been in a band called "The Wind In The Willows", and after several attempts at putting a band together, they formed "Blondie" in August 1974. Debbie said she wanted a combination of the aggressive Shangri-las of rock and the solid vocal of an R&B band. Apparently the name was chosen because of lurid shouts from truck drivers calling out to her, "Come on blondie give us a screw!".
Early May 1975 they advertised for a drummer and forty turned up for the audition. The last one to audition was Clement Burke who fitted into their plans perfectly. Bassist Gary Valentine joined in August, and in October keyboardist Jimmy Destri joined. For a year Blondie worked hard, and late 1976 saw the release of their first album "Blondie". The ballad "In The Flesh" reached Number Two in the Australian charts.
In July 1977 Frank Infante replaced Valentine. They released a new album "Plastic Letters", and in November Infante played the guitars as Nigel Harrison joined the band and played bass. They had their first European hit "Denis" which was followed by a second UK Top 10 hit "(Im Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear".
"Parallel Lines" was their third album, which produced their first UK and US Number One. This album also produced "Hanging On The Telephone" and two UK Number One singles in the form of "Heart Of Glass" and "Sunday Girl".
"Eat To The Beat", their fourth album, included the hits "Dreaming" and "Union City Blue", as well as their third and fourth UK Number Ones "Atomic", and the theme from American Gigolo "Call Me".
Another album which produced chart topping songs worldwide was "Autoamerican". It famously included the first commercially successful song featuring rap by the way of "Rapture".
In 1981 everybody took time off to work on solo projects, but that year saw the release of the "Best Of Blondie" album. It gave the impression that they were about to break up, but they were still contracted to produce another album. So "The Hunter" came out in 1982, though by this time hardly any of the band were talking. Inevitably they split up in 1984.
Debbie launched a part time solo career as well as looking after Chris who had become seriously ill. He eventually recovered leaving Debbie free to go on and enjoy her solo career. She achieved her biggest success with the 1986 Top 10 hit "French Kissin In The USA", and released several hit albums including "Def Dumb And Blonde" in 1989 and "Debravation" in 1993. However, while her solo career was far from a failure, she never quite managed to emulate the success of her former band...
In 1997 Debbie, Chris Jimmy Destri and Clem Burke reunited and embarked on a tour, proving that they could still be successful. They finally released a new song, "Maria", in February 1999, which topped the UK singles chart in its first week. Two weeks later, "No Exit" became a Top 3 album. It shows that although fifteen years have passed, they still don't sound dated.