Blondie



Blondie is an American rock band that first gained fame in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They were pioneers in the early American punk rock and New Wave scene. Their first two albums contained strong elements of these genres, and although they were successful in Australia and the United Kingdom, Blondie were regarded as an underground band in the United States until the release of their third album in 1978. Over the next three years, they achieved several hit singles and were noted for their eclectic mix of musical styles as they incorporated elements of disco, dance, hip hop and reggae, while retaining their basic style as a new wave band.

Lead singer Deborah Harry achieved a level of celebrity that eclipsed other band members leading to tension within the group. Following a poorly received album, and with core member Chris Stein diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease, the group disbanded in 1982. As members pursued other projects, Blondie's reputation grew over the following decade and the group reformed in 1998, achieving renewed success and a number one single in the United Kingdom the following year. The group toured and performed throughout the world over the following years, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.

In the early 1970s, Chris Stein moved to New York City, and inspired by the New York Dolls, aimed to join a similar band. He joined "The Stilettos" in 1973 as their guitarist, and formed a romantic relationship with one of the band's vocalists, Deborah Harry. A former waitress and Playboy Bunny, Harry had been a member of the folk-rock band "Wind in the Willows" in the late 1960s. In 1974 she parted ways with "The Stilettos" and Elda Gentile, the band's originator. Stein and Harry formed a new band with drummer Clem Burke, keyboard player Jimmy Destri and bass player Gary Valentine. Originally billed as "Angel and the Snake" the band soon renamed themselves "Blondie." The name was taken from comments from truck drivers who called "Hey, Blondie" to Harry as they drove by.

They became regulars at New York's Club 51, Max's Kansas City, and CBGB's. They got their first record deal with Private Stock Records in the mid 70s, and released their debut album Blondie in 1976, along with the single "X-Offender". Private Stock Records was then bought out by the U.K based company Chrysalis Records and the first album was re-released on the new label in 1977 along with the single "Rip Her To Shreds". By this time Valentine had been replaced by Nigel Harrison, and another guitarist Frank Infante had been added. Rolling Stone wrote about Blondie for the first time in August 1977, and observed the eclectic nature of the group's music, comparing it to Phil Spector and The Who and commented that the album's two strengths were Richard Gottehrer's production, and the persona of Deborah Harry, saying she performed with "utter aplomb and involvement throughout: even when she's portraying a character consummately obnoxious and spaced-out, there is a wink of awareness that is comforting and amusing yet never condescending". It also noted that Harry was the "possessor of a bombshell zombie's voice that can sound dreamily seductive and woodenly Mansonite within the same song".

Their first commercial success occurred in Australia in 1977 when the music television program Countdown mistakenly played their video "In the Flesh", which was the b-side of their current single "X-Offender". Jimmy Destri later credited Meldrum for their initial success, commenting that "we still thank him to this day" for playing the wrong song. In a 1998 interview bandmember Clem Burke recalled seeing the episode in which the wrong song was played but he and Chris Stein suggested that it may have been a deliberate subterfuge on the part of Meldrum. Stein asserted that "X-Offender" was "too crazy and aggressive to become a hit", while "In the Flesh" was "not representative of any punk sensibility. Over the years, I've thought they probably played both things, but liked one better. That's all". In retrospect Burke described "In the Flesh" as "a forerunner to the power ballad".

The single and album each reached the top 5 in October 1977, and a subsequent double-a release of "X-Offender" and "Rip Her to Shreds", was also popular. A successful Australian tour followed in December, though it was marred by an incident in Brisbane when disappointed fans almost rioted after Harry cancelled a performance due to illness.

The following year they released their second album, Plastic Letters which Chrysalis Records promoted extensively throughout Europe and Asia. The album's first single, "Denis", a cover version of Randy and the Rainbows's 1963 hit, reached number two on the British singles charts, while both the both the album, and the second single, "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear" each reached the top ten, making Blondie one of the first American new wave bands to achieve mainstream success in the United Kingdom.

All Music Review later described Plastic Letters as inferior to its predecessor, saying that with the exception of the two singles, it appeared to have been constructed from "leftovers" from the Blondie album. It noted that Gottehrer's production could not compensate for the "pedestrian musical tracks" or save the album from "general mediocrity".

Their next album Parallel Lines was produced by Mike Chapman, and its first two singles, "Picture This" and "Hanging on the Telephone", were hits in the UK. The next single "Heart of Glass" was a reworking of a rock song that the group had performed since its formation, but updated with strong elements of disco music. Clem Burke later said the revamped version was inspired partly by Kraftwerk and partly by the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive", whose drum beat Burke tried to emulate. He and Stein gave Jimmy Destri much of the credit for the final result, noting that Destri's appreciation of technology had led him to introduce synthesisers and to rework the keyboard sections.[10] Although some members of the British music press condemned Blondie for "selling out" the song became a worldwide success, selling more than one million copies, and reaching number one in many countries including the U.S. where until this point they had been largely considered an "underground" band. The song was accompanied by a music video that showcased Deborah Harry's hard-edged and playfully sexual persona, and she began to attain a celebrity status that set her apart from the other band members, who were largely ignored by the media.

Blondie's next single in the U.S. was a more aggressive rock song, "One Way or Another" and it reached the top 30 but the band's greatest success continued to be in the UK where "Sunday Girl" reached number one.

Their next album Eat to the Beat was well received by critics as a suitable follow up to Parallel Lines but in the U.S. it failed to achieve the same level of success. In the UK, the single "Atomic" reached number one, and "Dreaming" and "Union City Blue" were substantial hits, while in the U.S. they achieved only minor success.

Deborah Harry worked with the Italian songwriter and producer Giorgio Moroder, who was responsible for some of Donna Summer's biggest hits, and they composed the song "Call Me" for the soundtrack of the film American Gigolo. The song became the biggest hit of Blondie's career spending seven weeks at number one in the U.S. and becoming a hit throughout the world. Their album Autoamerican was released shortly after and contained two more worldwide hits, the reggae styled "The Tide Is High" and the hip-hop "Rapture", both U.S. and UK number one singles. "Rapture" was the first song containing elements of rap music vocals to reach number one in the U.S. and helped introduce the then underground hip-hop genre to a larger audience.

Blondie's popularity declined rapidly; despite two number one singles, Chrysalis Records elected not to release a third single from Autoamerican and stopped promoting the album in favour of Deborah Harry's solo album Koo Koo (1981). Rolling Stone's review placed most of the blame for the album's failure on the producers and songwriters, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards though it also commented that "Harry is less a trained singer than a moody presence, someone who can breathe atmosphere into a tune without benefit of a wide vocal range".

Blondie's next album The Hunter (1982) and the single "Island of Lost Souls" were released to largely negative reviews. An extensive U.S. tour was commenced, but many shows were cancelled due to low ticket sales.

Blondie disbanded in 1982, amidst media reports of tension within the group and Harry launched a solo career. Stein developed the autoimmune disease, pemphigus vulgaris and while Harry nursed him over the course of several years, she disregarded her career and did not perform for five years. Clem Burke was a highly regarded session musician and during this period his most notable work was with Eurythmics.

During the late 1980s and into the early 1990s, Blondie's past work was recognised by a new generation of fans as artists such as Madonna. and Chrysalis Records released remixed versions of some of their biggest hits. Speaking in 1998, Clem Burke said he had recognized elements of Blondie in the band No Doubt, while Harry commented that she began to realize "our reputation had grown since we stopped".

In 1996, Stein began the process of a Blondie reunion and contacted Destri, who was then producing, and Burke. In 1998, the band reformed, without Harrison and Infante who unsuccessfully sued to prevent the reunion under the name "Blondie". The album, No Exit, described by Jimmy Destri as "15 songs about nothing", reached number 3 on the UK charts, and the song "Maria", which Destri had written while in high school, became a number one single. During this time Harry also worked as a vocalist for the avant-garde jazz troupe, The Jazz Passengers, after collaborating with them on their 1997 debut album Individually Twisted.

They released the album The Curse of Blondie in October 2003, followed by the single "Good Boys". The continue to tour, but by May 2006 Jimmy Destri had left the band, leaving only Harry, Stein and Burke from the original lineup.

In 2006, a mash up of Blondie's "Rapture" and The Doors "Riders on the Storm" was released as a single titled "Rapture Riders", and reached the top 30 on the Australian ARIA charts, and the top 10 on Billboard Hot Dance Club chart. Neither Harry nor Stein were involved in the song's production, but Harry commented that the song was "Amazingly good... It's rare that I really love something" and Stein also approved of the song, with the two allowing it to be included on Blondie's Greatest Hits: Sight & Sound album.

By 1982, the year the band broke up, Blondie had released six studio albums, each exhibiting a stylistic progression from the last. The band is known, not only for the striking stage persona and vocal performances of Harry, but also for incorporating elements in their work from numerous subgenres of popular music, including punk, new wave, disco, and hip hop.

In March of 2006, Blondie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All six members from the "Parallel Lines" era line-up were invited to the ceremony, which led to an on-stage spat between the group and their former bandmates Nigel Harrison and Frank Infante when the latter pleaded to be allowed to perform with the group at the ceremony - a request refused by Harry.

A BBC documentary on the group, aired Friday July 21 2006, discussed the legal battle between Nigel Harrison and Frank Infante, on one side, and the present day band, on the other (most likely over terms of their implied 'partnership' agreement as a band). This has something to do with the frosty reception they received from Harry and Stein at the induction.

Blondie have influenced many musicians, among them Madonna, Shirley Manson, the band L7, and Gwen Stefani.

On May 22, 2006, Blondie was inducted into the Rock Walk of Fame, at Guitar Center on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. Especially important regarding Blondie's Rock Walk induction is the fact that currently, Rock Walk inductions are voted on by previous Rock Walk inductees, making this truly a musician's award.

They remain the only American act to reach number one in the UK singles charts in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Coincidentally, their last number one hit, Maria, topped the UK charts exactly twenty years after their first chart-topper, Heart of Glass did in 1979.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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