THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF BLONDIE
Blondie are legends. There are no two ways about it. Coming out of New York in the mid-70’s, they brought punk and new wave together and pioneered punk rock as we know it today. They have sold over 30 million albums worldwide, with 20 million of these are solely attributable to their 1978 album ‘Parallel Lines’. However, it hasn’t been plain sailing for Debbie Harry and the gang, as well as their international success they have also suffered many set backs over the years.
Blondie received their first taste of commercial success in Australia back in 1977, after music show Countdown played the current single ‘X-Offender’s B-side, ‘In the Flesh’ on-air, the single and self-titled album both managed to get to the Top 5 in the charts.
However, soon after this bassist Gary Valentine left the band at the end of 1977. He was replaced by both Frank Infante and Nigel Harrison turning the band from its then four-piece into a six-piece.
Within the same year, Blondie released their most successful album in the form of Parallel Lines, which gained the number 1 album in the UK and the number 6 spot in the band’s native US, their first commercial success there. Parallel Lines has been ranked the 140th in the Top 500 albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.
Two years later the release of their most successful album, Blondie released their most successful single ‘Call Me’. This was a number one hit in the US, UK, became a worldwide hit and was the number one song of 1980.
Just a year later Blondie announced a brief break for the band, in which members Deborah Harry and keyboardist Jimmy Destri released solo material. Blondie reconvened in 1982 to record album The Hunter, the band’s least successful and poorly received album. With this sudden decline of commercial success but with the spotlight still firming fixed on Deborah Harry moral and friendships within the band dwindled. To add to the ever growing problems in the band, guitarist Chris Stein was then diagnosed with Pemphigus, a life threatening skin disease. It came as no surprise that in August 1982, Blondie officially cancelled all future tour plans and announced their split.
Harry and Stein, a couple at the time, retreated whilst Stein was ill with Harry to look after him. While other members Destri and drummer Clem Burke continued with their musical careers as session performers.
It wasn’t until 1997, that all five original members would play live together again. After three live concerts, Blondie announced an international tour for late 1998 to early 1999. This excitement was short-lived when it emerged that bassists Infante and Harrison planned to sue, trying to prevent a reunion under the name Blondie. Thankfully this fell through and Blondie remained. Later on that year the band released their seventh album ‘No Exit’. which again gained the number one album spot in the UK, although without Valentine playing on the record and in 2004, Destri also left the band, announcing he was retiring from touring, leaving just three of the original five members to continue.
In 2006, Blondie were included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All members were invited to the ceremony in New York, including Infante and Harrison. However, this too was short-lived when an argument broke out on-stage between Infante and Harry when Infante requested to play with the band and was turned down.
The last year has been rather hectic for the punkers. Last June Blondie began their tour which saw them playing around the world, including a sold out gig at the Raanana Park Amphitheatre in Israel. Also, an expanded 30th Anniversary Edition of Parallel Lines was released complete with a special edition DVD and four bonus tracks.
With a new album on the horizons as well as a summer tour of the US, it looks like Blondie are back for action.