|Debbie Harry was the focus of the 70's band Blondie. Harry's glamour platinum blonde looks, keen wit and creative musical
style, propelled Blondie to mega stardom. Born in 1945 in Florida, Deborah Harry was adopted at about three months of age
by Richard and Catherine Harry. She was raised in New Jersey, where as a teenager she said of herself "I used to dress in
black every day and pretend to be tough" (quoted in the November 12, 1977, issue of Juke Magazine). She spent most of her
twenties working odd jobs, including, secretary, cocktail waitress and Playboy bunny and rubbing shoulders with the Warhol
set at club "Max's". Deborah's first musical chance came when she recorded backup vocals on "The Wind in the Willows" a banal
folk band, who recorded only the one album. |
In October 1973 Deborah Harry started both a musical and personal relationship
with Chris Stein. After hanging around the punk birth place the C.B.G.B club, and unsuccessfully trying to form a band (one
of those attempts was "The Stilettoes"). Deborah and Chris formed Blondie. Debbie said she got the idea from he lurid shouts
of passing truck drivers "Come on Blondie, give us a screw!" Blondie battled for many years, but late 1977 "Denis" hit the
number two position in the British charts. Singing in a torn swimsuit and high heels, Debbie Harry would adopt the vacant
glamour poses of every platinum blonde in modern history, becoming the focus of great media attention, in the process becoming
a pop icon, and manging to balance that with the right amount of self-satire.
"Heart of Glass" was Blondie's first world wide hit, going number one in both America and Britain.
Blondie had several number one hits, including, "Heart of Glass", "Call Me", "The Tide is High", and "Rapture" (the first
commercially successful song featuring rap). Fame and success pushed Deborah Harry too far out into the limelight, with tensions
causing the group to split in 1984. Deborah Harry as star had made Blondie the most successful New Wave band of the seventies.
However, her solo career would never live up to the success of Blondie. Debbie Harry's first solo album "Koo Koo",
was both a critical and commercial failure, although it has since more than recouped it costs, and is a firm favourite with
her legions of fans. "Backfired", the first single from "Koo Koo", had an ominous ring to it, never charting higher than 28
on the charts.
Her releases since Blondie were sporadic, to say the least. Debbie Harry took four years off between
the release of "Koo Koo" and her second solo effort "Rockbird", to nurse a seriously ill Chris Stein. With "Rockbird", Debbie
fared considerably better, scoring a number 2 hit in Britain and a number one hit in Australia, with the decidedly sexy "French
Kissin' in the USA", but the album failed to chart well in America. Debbie again disappeared from public view, releasing only
an occasional single, "Liar Liar" was one of the more memorable numbers.
In 1989, Deborah Harry brushed off the cobwebs
and returned with the brilliantly seductive "Def Dumb and Blonde". Now recording under the name Deborah Harry, the album was
an eclectic blend of musical genres. Produced by Mike Chapman (ex-Blondie producer), the album signalled a return to Deborah
Harry's fundamentals. Diverse sounds, good sense of humour, retro punk, but avoiding retro sentimentally, but most of all
fun and enjoyable. The UK hit single was "I Want that Man", the album also charted well in the US, going platinum in Australia,
and was followed by a world tour. In 1990 she recorded with Iggy Pop, (what was to become a cult classic) "Well Did You Evah"
for the "Red Hot and Blue" album.
Again she disappeared, but returned in 1993 with "Debravation." A schizophrenic
album, which one reviewer called a "jumble of genre exercises", still packs quite a punch, but unfortunately, often fails
to hit. "I Can See Clearly" produced by Arthur Baker, has a seductive disco sound, and Deborah's voice is as soothing and
charming as ever. "Rain", "Standing in my Way", and "Stability" are as good as anything she has ever produced. But the point
of the other tracks are lost in overwrought symphonic's and power-pop, not approaching the spunk or zest of her best work.
However on the twisted "Lip Service", which breaks into an Edgar Allen Poe poem in midstream, she comes close. Her recent
releases include "No Talking Just Head" recorded with the Talking Heads for the "Virtuosity" soundtrack, a very catchy track
that should have been a huge hit for her, but inexplicability hardly received any publicity or radio airplay at all, and wasn't
released as a single.
Deborah Harry is also an actor, appearing in "Union City" (1979), "Videodrome" (1983), "Hairspray"
(1986), "Drop Dead Rock" (1995) and recently a starring role in "Heavy" (late 1995). She continues to pack a powerful punch
as a performer, doing an exhaustive round or tours with the Jazz Passengers, solo performances and charity benefits. In late
1996 Deborah Harry's vocal talents were featured on 9 tracks of the Jazz Passengers Album, "Individually Twisted". She also
found time to appear with the band Groove Thing on the singe "Command & Obey. Since 1998 much of her time has been taken
up touring and recording with the reformed Blondie.
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