Blondie began in typical rock & roll fashion — hippie art student meets former Playboy bunny and starts band. What followed was far from typical, far from forecasted, and far from understood, even today. Blondie was New Wave, punk, funk, disco, and doomed from the beginning, but they were never quitters and even after near tragedy, the ’80s favorite pop troupe proved they would persevere – one way or another.
Everyone knows Blondie ? or at least “Heart of Glass,” the band’s first and hugest hit in the United States. A track off the band’s third release, “Heart of Glass” helped Parallel Lines sell more than 20 million copies worldwide and propelled Blondie into the sphere of superstars. Deborah Harry became the New Wave pin-up girl one year later when American Gigolo spawned the international hit “Call Me” and Autoamerican subsequently produced “The Tide is High” — an ’80s anthem that reverberates through international clubs and bars even to this day. That album reached Number One on both sides of the pond, and went platinum after Harry’s appearance on “Solid Gold” in 1981.
Blondie was queen, but Blondie was also bored. The various members began working on outside projects of their own, and in August 1981 Harry released her first solo album, Koo Koo. As Koo Koo climbed the charts, tension within the band rose as well when bassist Frank Infante filed suit against Blondie claiming that the band was not utilizing his talents. Infante settled out of court and contributed to 1982’s The Hunter, but Blondie simply wasn’t meant to be. As that album began tumbling down the charts, guitarist Chris Stein became seriously ill with the genetic disease pemphigus. Blondie broke up in October 1982.
Stein, the hippie art student who started the band, battled the rare, and potentially fatal genetic disease with the help of long-time partner Harry, who divided her time between nursing duties and various films and plays. After many painful years, Stein recovered from his illness and began producing several bands in New York. Keyboardist Jimmy Destri left the music industry to start a family and work as a contractor. Drummer Clem Burke continued playing and recording with top music groups.
Then in 1998, the original members of Blondie reconvened with a dream, a hope, and a European tour. It was their first set of gigs together in 16 years. Things went so well, they decided to take the boomerang plunge and record their seventh album, No Exit, which hit the streets this February and spawned the hit single “Maria.” Says one reviewer, “It’s a classic Blondie album, but even better in ways. The band takes itself less seriously so the songs are even wittier. And two of the good things about getting older are that if you play your cards right you can get smarter and you can get more skilled. Blondie holds a winning hand with No Exit.”
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