BLONDIE – PRESS REVIEWS
PRIVATE STOCK RECORDS, LTD
32 OLD BURLINGTON STREET, LONDON WIX 1LB. Telephone. 01-439 7011
Music Week April 2nd
Blondie. Private Stock PVLP 1017.
Producer: Richard Gottehrer. A New York band with ‘femme punk’ Deborah Harry handling the vocals, Blondie comes on like a cross between the Shangri-Las and the Surfaris. The Sixties connection is no accident, of course, with veteran U.S. pop writer and producer Gottehrer on the scene, plus at least one other luminary of the last decade. Ellie Greenwich, lending her voice to one track. Deborah Harry has a fairly toneless voice, but it works well with Clement Burke’s drums and James Destri’s keyboards, the dominant instruments here. Adding the extra dimension are the song lyrics, largely pastiches of the traditional pop ethic and heavy on the innuendo. Top tracks are probably the amusing X Offender (for X read sex) and the catchy Man Overboard. Could be some UK sales action on their reputation, but a visit by the band seems necessary for anything more.
Meanwhile, Blondie, who based on the shows I saw her play-support to the Ig in New York and Philadelphia, is getting a tremendous response – and she deserves it! Good lights and a decent sized stage seem to be all Debbie needs to simultaneously put the Shindig dancers and any number of vocalists in their place. Get back! By the way, Debbie’s been using the name of “Fu Manchu” as her hotel register alias. Another Blondie has chosen Norman Bates as his a/k/a, and you, me, Janet Leigh, and especially VA Goldman know what a turn around he was in the shower!
NEW SINGLE PVT 105 (A side) In the Flesh (B side) X Offender – Released May 6th
L.P. PVLP 1017 BLONDIE – Available now
May 22nd Apollo, Glasgow
May 23rd City Hall, Newcastle
May 24th City Hall, Sheffield
May 26th Manchester Free Trade Hall
May 27th Odeon, Birmingham
May 28th Odeon, Hammersmith, London
May 30th Top Rank, Plymouth
May 31st Colston Hall, Bristol
NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS
Male, chauvinist pigs’ corner
Episodes 2 & 3
I’VE YET TO MEET someone who wouldn’t like to do the young lady a Big Favour! I’m sure you appreciate the reason why. No doubt about it, Debbie Harry exudes the same degree of lethal street corner sensuality that made Brigitte Bardot and Ronnie Spector legends at 21.
Baby, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Debbie Harry’s a Star, so she does it with style.
Bowie copped one look at her picture, an earful of her album, got on the blower from Berlin and promptly fixed her to support Iggy throughout the Americas. Phil Spector would gladly give his right nut to produce her next record. Maybe if he throws in his left, she’ll wear them as earrings!
She’s the proverbial All – American – Girl – Next – Door turned freak. Both her words and mine.
A provocative blonde fox who drives frantic young boys with rapidly failing eyesight to lock themselves in the bathroom for hours – and their equally distracted fathers to shave twice daily, wear loud clothes and act real weird. A rock ‘n’ roll ingenue, destined to become the locker-room pin-up of her generation.
She could make it on her looks alone but the fact that Debbie Harry also has a great voice is definitely an added bonus.
I don’t want to cover old territory, but I’d better just tell you that Debbie Harry is both singer and namesake with a New York band called Blondie.
Yeah! Sure you’ve heard of ’em before. Right. And the face does look real familiar, ’cause it was Debbie’s stunning good-looks that prompted the tabloids to start running her pictures long before most people had actually seen her perform or heard her records.
No doubt about it. Some people do have the right face at the right place at the right time.
A certain look.
A charismatic appeal that is suddenly strewn across the pages of the glossies and just as quickly duplicated on the streets. Brigitte Bardot, Sandra Dee, Ronnie Spector, Twiggy, Marianne Faithful, Joni Mitchell, all possessed the right face in the crowd.
Add Debbie Harry’s name to the list.
WITH A PREFERENCE for Early Tart couture, Debbie Harry’s looks are almost brutally striking. The slight rough edge of her sullen features makes her far more alluring than the self-perpetrating homogenized lip – gloss – silicone – and – airbrush – spray – jobs afforded the sex-symbols of the Gatefold Generation.
Everybody has roots.
Debbie’s are bleached and starting to grow out. She’s also, sound-wise, a synthesis of just about every record that spilled out of a car radio in the mid-Sixties.
Out there in front of an audience – this evening, one that has come to pay homage to Iggy – she displays absolutely no inhibitions whatsoever.
Five foot something of nervous energy bouncing around in a black mini-dress, matching tights, dime-store shades and dinky ankle boots, performing cutsey little Shindig go-go steps and acting out each and every song with an arrogant flick of her hair, a pout and a contemptuous stare.
She seldom smiles. She may look frail but when she snarls “Rip Her To Shreds”, she means business. Watch out for her nails!
With the Blondie band thrashing away like four non-swimmers thrown in at the deep-end, she sings “Goldfinger” as a finale and knocks the audience on its ass.
Listen, honey. I can make you a star…
NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS – April 9th, 1977
ROY CARR holds hands with DEBBIE HARRY, insists it’s not merely physical, blah blah.
Backstage, the New York Palladium is the veritable pits.
It’s an old neighbourhood Opera House that used to be called the Academy of Music and after a much-needed face lift, was re-named the Palladium. While they were at it, I wish they’d done something about the security guards and plumbing and in that order.
From the minute you get backstage (a story in itself) and flash your pass, you’re immediately confronted with unnecessary hassles and obnoxious people doing everything but what they’re employed to do.
Heavies stalk the corridors looking for blood to spill, shouting at the artists: “Get back in your dressing rooms where you belong!”
Not only is this not the summer of love, it ain’t the winter either. Really, I’d feel much safer back on the street – and that’s like a nightmare.
Even Glenn Coulson is getting stick from a security-badged psychopath who’s not interested that he’s doing press for the band, but wants to throw him out into the alley. Somehow we manage to locate Blondie’s dressing room without loss of limb or too much abuse.
WE KNOCK. We enter.
At first I thought it was the toilet. The room was evidently refurbished by the same firm that decorated Death Row, San Quentin.
Stone walls sweat more than the group, who are flopped around the room. The floor is flooded by an undetermined liquid, the radiator clanks incessantly and it’s hell-below-zero outside the cracked window.
It may not be much, but it sure ain’t home.
Debbie is knackered. She’s only just staggered off stage and she’s desperately trying to cool down and keep warm at the same time. I’m somewhat ozoned having just flown in from 70 degrees of L.A. sunshine, looking for the man with the soldering iron.
So should Debbie and I hug each other to keep warm? (Could I be struck-off the staff box for unethical practices?)
A bottle of Jack Daniel’s is thrust into my right hand. It does the trick, but somehow it just ain’t the same. See you in the parking lot later, Debbie?
After four years in obscurity and six months of eating regularly, Blondie aren’t over-enamoured with being branded a Noo Yawk Punk Band. They are far more concerned that they might end up being tagged a Nostalgia Band. Now that worries ’em.
“Punk,” insists guitarist Chris Stein as he sprawls next to Debbie on a couch, “is meaningless and anyone with any brains knows that it doesn’t mean anything.”
Agreed: But an awful lotta brainless schmucks buy an awful lotta records. However…
“Even if we did get stuck with that stoopid punk rock thing,” he continues, “I know we can easily outgrow it. But if we’re labelled a Nostalgia Band, it could turn a lot of people away.”
“Some people,” adds keyboard player James Destri, “might say that Blondie’s music is a direct rip-off of the Sixties, but like most of the people in this band, I stopped listening to the radio in ’68, maybe ’69.”
“That’s when TV took over,” Debbie Harry states rather flatly, as she struggles to pull a black leather jacket around her exposed shoulders and fight off the fatigue which weights heavily on her dropping eyelids.
Smile transistor sister, you’re in the Sony Generation. Debbie Harry has casually put her delicate finger on Blondie’s sub-cultural influences.
When prompted, the band make absolutely no secret of the fact that though musically they’re radio-orientated, they’re essentially a product of video-consciousness. This immediately explains their visual kineticism. (Their WHAT??? – Ed.)
We’ll get to that a little later on.
It’s no accident that Blondie sound like they’ve just spilled out of a car radio with the dial jammed on 1966. (Debbie doesn’t say too much, but she thinks that’s an appropriate analogue.)
“When I was younger, I used to listen to the car radio all the time. Truthfully, that was my only solace when I was still in High School. You see, I always liked to be alone and the only place for that was in a car with the radio on.”
(Roadrunner … roadrunner.)
In many ways, it’s this inbred solitary attitude – just the right side of aloofness – that gives the lady her enigmatic stance.
IT WAS PRIMARILY through the radio that Debbie Harry first really learned how to sing and then, through The Ronettes’ Ronnie Spector, The Shangri-Las’ Mary Weiss, The Shirelles’ Shirley Alston and The Miracles’ Smokey Robinson, she osmosed the time-honoured techniques of a lead singer. (The last person to have successfully perfected this delicate art to her advantage was Diana Ross – before she quit The Supremes to become a singing clothes-horse.)
As a society, America has never been as oldies-orientated as Europe. Collecting is an underground cult while oldies compilations are restricted to mail-order TV offers. New recordings of old songs often chart, but seldom do old records have a second lease of life.
Therefore, to a whole new generation the idea of bands playing songs in less than it takes to sprint a mile is quite novel and neat, eh!
And so songs come barrelling out of bands like Blondie, one every three minutes or so.
“I guess”, says Debbie wistfully, “it’s time for another Renaissance.”
Chris Stein is the first in the room to agree, arguing that over the last ten years, America has become so technically obsessed that simplicity has all but been lost to what her terms “matchbook computerised competition”.
Except for those sour-mash-swilling Southern boogie bands, rock has, to all intents and purposes become a spectator-sport to the average American.
“It’s a pitcher’s more than a batter’s game,” he continues. “We’re not trying to get back to the roots of rock, just pick up where they left off.”
“The pop spirit of the Sixties”, quips bassist Gary Valentine – who has just wandered back into the dressing room complaining about the paranoia of the backstage security.
Debbie has regained part of her second-breath and continues this line of conversation with detached enthusiasm: “We all remember when you’d switch on the radio and hear at least 20 great singles all in a row, but that’s all finished. All the real cool disc jockeys in New York got kicked off the radio. There’s no real selectivity any longer.
“On most rock stations, you only hear eight or maybe nine songs each hour…..”
“Yeah, just like the other night,” Stein interjects, “someone played the Stones ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ and followed it with some real dumb disco song. What’s that all about?”
Debbie carries on, almost oblivious to Stein’s interruption.
“This is a real good analogy to what we’re trying to do. A lot of people who were really doing hot catchy songs in the Fifties and Sixties, are now busy writing and recording radio and TV jingles.
“So if you can really get it together in just three minutes that’s a really good concentration. That’s what pop records are all about.”
CHRIS, DEBBIE and James all agree that American radio’s last vintage year was ’69. As to whether ’77 will be a year to remember, they’d prefer to reserve judgement.
Time will tell, but punk is just the hard-end of bubble gum rock which, if it is to repeat the cycle, will (like its predecessors) quickly dissolve into psychedelia. Some people have already assumed Blondie to be both surreal and psychedelic. Could be!
But Blondie aren’t at all concerned with all that kind of self-analysis.
Unlike so many Seventies bands, who go to great pains to inform you that the answers to everything from the mysteries of the universe right on through to regular bowel movements are to be found within the covers of their new triple album, Blondie can only offer a good time (which is a good deal more than most bands can guarantee).
With so many of the possibilities of rock having either been short-circuited or exhausted, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a new angle. It’s not always necessary to go where no bozo has ever trod before. Chris Stein explains Blondie’s brief.
“We are primarily attempting to synthesize everything around us into one style. Dylan did it with blues, folk, rock and country music and, similarly, The Rolling Stones sounded like everything worthwhile that had gone before.”
A synthesis as opposed to a pastime, which Debbie insists goes far beyond the actual confines of the music they perform, but has a great deal to do with video-consciousness in the Seventies.
“If they just want to get into the band because of the way we look, the way we dress and the way we act cool, well that’s fine.
“We all agree,” continues the Thrift-shop Mannequin “that the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands have always been a combination of good looks, good music and a good stage show – but not necessarily the best of either. Just a right balance of the chemistry.”
Stein adds his opinions.
“The basic shortcomings of bands like The Eagles is that they just sorta stand around, sorta play their instruments competently and then expect people to worship their music. But The Eagles as performers – it’s not there, it just doesn’t exist.”
Know whatcha mean, Squire.
Stein then insists that The Eagles (but more so Peter Frampton) represent the end of the second rock generation and that bands like Blondie form the vanguard of the third.
I disagree. If you describe to the proven seven-year cyclic change, then Frampton constitutes the finale of the third and the Nouvelle Vague the birthpangs of the fourth rock generation. When evaluating her position, Debbie tends to agree with my calculations. (What does it matter – we’re all going to die. – Oswald Spengler.)
LIKE THEIR contemporaries, Blondie are products of the instant pulp society.
Inheritors of the mixed-media generation, Debbie feels that image-wise she’s just skipped out of the pages of an animated comic book and that, as far as she is concerned, she could be caricatured as easily as Joey Ramone, Patti Smith and Richard Hell.
The Archie Betty, Jughead 3rd Veronica of the Blank Generation!
Today, comic books are about the most immediate and widely-read form of communicative literature amongst youngsters. They are drawn fast, hit the stands within days and vanish almost as quickly. Like comic books, only the best rock bands stay in circulation.
“There’s no doubt about it,” coos Debbie. “Blondie reflects the video-conscious society because we’re so attuned to it – so we’re a product of instant media.
“We can relate to its images and reflect them so much better than anything else you can think of.”
As their records reveal, everything from Bond to Bondage, Goldfinger to Godzilla, Kung Fu to Surf’s Up.
Debbie turns to listen to Chris Stein add his thoughts.
“Communications and the way media is manipulated has become so speeded up that if we’re successful we just might sell as many records and make as much money in five years as the Stones did in ten and Elvis did in twenty.”
Or Boston did in two months!
It’s not beyond comprehension. However, competition is stiffer now than it has ever been. As always, it’s the survival of the fittest.
Apart from Johnny Ramone’s recent brush with Malcolm McLaren, it never gets beyond bands not speaking to one another.
“If kids in New York were as poor as I’m led to believe they are in London,” muses Debbie, “then I guess blood would be spilt.
“Survival … survival”, she sighs.
“Do you think we’ll go over well in London?” she asks with a glimmer of interest, “cause some people have said we wouldn’t because we’re not that tough or that mean.”
No problems, darlin’.
She smiles sweetly, makes her excuses and leaves.
See you in the parking lot.
Return of the teen nymphette
(Private Stock – Import)
EVER SINCE Janis Joplin cashed in her chips prematurely, the majority of star-struck girl rock singers have practically all adopted a (tired) stance that’s a hybrid of a terminal dipsomaniac, a bull dyke and the proverbial golden hearted hooker.
With few exceptions, all have been blessed with an embarrassing sense of melodrama and a voice that would put a regimental sergeant major to shame. At the other extreme, there’s a multitude of folksy lank-haired vesta virgins!
Then suddenly, there’s Blondie. Or to be more precise, Debbie Harry, singer and focal point of a band called Blondie.
In the face of bands like The Ramones, Television, Johnny Thunders’ Heartbreakers, Talking Heads and Richard Hell, Blondie represent the more melodic and less frenetic aspects of New York’s hard-rock bubble gummers. They debut with a self-penned album of 11 songs – not the same song performed 11 times with a five-second break every three minutes.
It’s a collection in the very best tradition of Brill Building Bop.
With Blondie as support, the luscious Debbie has chosen to skillfully resurrent the role of the All-American thumb-sucking nymphette. Rooted in the time-honoured tradition of such teen queens as Shirley Alston of The Shirelles, the Shangri-Las’ star-crossed Mary Weiss and the incomparable Ronnie Spector, she (and the band) has taken the very best elements of these legendary 60s Noo Yawk girlie groups and streamlined them to meet both their very highly distinctive talents and the mood of the late 70s.
Emmitting the kind of WASP coolness one associates with Karen Carpenter, she smoulders beneath the ice-cool exterior with a presence that must eventually elevate her as one of the best of the new song stylists.
Debbie knows all the tricks of the trade and then a few more of her own. She can take an archetypal teen dream doo-wopper of absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder like “In The Flesh”, innocently yearn for the return of her boyfriend, and guarantee he hops aboard the next Greyhound Bus with the promised payload – “I can’t wait to touch you in the flesh”.
Lesley Gore, eat your heart out!
In the provocative “Look Good In Blue”, she picks out her prey and beats out any competition with the ultimate offer of hospitality. “I can give you some head and shoulders to lie on”. Most definitely an offer you can’t refuse.
The single “X-Offender” (a truncation of “Sex”) – a headlong collision between the songwriting styles of Barry & Greenwich and Springsteen – finds Debbie casting herself in the role of Happy Hooker, while The Leader Of The Pack is a member of the vice squad with a prediliction for bondage.
“In The Sun”, a token surf’s up amphetamined ruch, “Kung Fu Girls” and “The Attack Of The Giant Ants” are examples of how the band really know how to talk trash. And “Rip Her To Shreds” shows Debbie’s ability to put her hands on her hips and play Queen Bitch. She ain’t no Runaway Cherry Bomb but Bette Davis at her most vicious. One of the ultimate putdown songs, not only is it on a par with anything that Jagger & Richard have ever scribed, but the fact that it’s one chick trashing another chick makes it that more lethal.
If ever directed at any specific individual (apparently she sometimes inserts Patti Smith into the lyrics), it could inflict permanent damage. Watch out!
Enough of Debbie Harry, because this ain’t a one-woman show. Chris Stein (guitar), Gary Valentine (bass), Clement Burke (drums) and, in particular, James Destri (Farfisa, synthesizer and keyboards_ supply a series of most effective backdrops which run the gauntlet from The Ventures, Question Mark, The Velvet Underground and The Floyd.
The end result is pure unadulterated Blondie. Though they rely upon the sheer sparseness of their arrangement for maximum affect, production-wise they could do with some beefing-up. Richard Gottehrer has done a commendable job, but what Blondie need to enable them to achieve their obvious potential, is a bright young producer with the creative flair of a Shadow Morton, a Phil Spector, even a Bjorn and Benny.
At this time, any band who can pursuade Ellie Greenwich into the studio and up to a microphone have got to have something extra special going for them.
I think it’s called talent!
SOUNDS – April 16th, 1977
Blondie boot the rock history books straight into the future. Richard Cromelin checks out the band with the token normal.
WHAT BETTER way to introduce Blondie’s bombshell Deborah Harry as she takes the stage at the Whisky in Hollywood than to use one of the band’s own lyrics: “Hey – pst pst – here she comes now/Ah, you know her/Would you look at that hair/You know her/Check out those shoes… she looks like the Sunday comics… She’s too much.”
Debbie, her claws unsheathed for ‘Rip Her To Shreds’, spits it out with all the catty sleaze she can muster, but for most of the show she maintains an entrancingly blase stance that has observers recalling Nico, Nancy Sinatra, Shelly Fabares, Cilla Black, Marianne Faithful and other glacial goddesses of the decade past. Deb’s cool demeanor also renders her animated moments of beach-party bounce, kung-fu kicks and furious go-go dancing that much more spectacular.
Behind her, an odd collection of musicians churns out a most invigorating pastiche of mid-to-late-60s rock ‘n’ roll particles. Chris Stein’s springy, surf-tone guitar, Jimmy Destri’s piping, ‘Palisades Park’ organ, Clem Burke’s snappy, direct drumbeats and Gary Valentine’s straightforward bass lines congeal into an earnest, captivating sound that, despite some moody, Doors-like excursions, has little in common with the mainstream of the “New York Sound.”
It comes as no surprise, then, when the members of Blondie, assembling in their publicist’s office down the street from the Whisky, reach into the pockets of their leather jackets, straight-legged jeans, puffy-sleeved mod shirts and narrow-lapel sport jackets and deposit their major influences in a huge pile on top of the desk.
Sorting through the clutter, we find, in no particular order: the Rascals, 1910 Fruitgum co., Joey Dee and the Starlighters [Clem’s uncle played drums for them], ‘Highway 61 Revisited’, Doors, Byrds, Spoonful, surf music – Beach Boys and Ventures, Grass Roots, Hendrix, Henry Mancini, Vanilla Fudge, Beatles, Hollies, Seeds, John Barry’s ‘Dr. No’ soundtrack, Bukka White, ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’, Sam the Sham, Bowie, Dave Clark Five, Dave Brubeck, Keith Moon, Marvel Comics, saturation level television and Japanese monster movies.
This five-headed repository of classic pop elements contains two veterans of the New York scene (Stein and Harry) and three wide-eyed rookies (Burke, Destri and Valentine) so new to the game that they go aquiver at just the thought of being interviewed for a magazine. If you were casting a film with them, you might make Stein, a seedy-looking sort, an anarchist with a bomb under his trenchcoat; Burke would be a marrow-brained prize-fighter, Debbie a wily sex-kitten, Destri the pretty-boy street-punk and the bookish Valentine the outfit’s token normal. The look is deceiving, because they talk like a graduate seminar in contemporary culture.
“I think 1968 or ’69 was the last year, and a new year hasn’t happened yet,” posits Valentine, eagerly addressing the obvious matter of the 60s influence. “Evolution in rock ‘n’ roll music stopped then and it just sort of stagnated. It’s very obvious that we’re 60s-influenced, but I think it’s a healthy regression, because the 60s are the last modern age. The 70s are very baroque, very rococo.”
“The 70s are an abortion of what was going on in the 60s,” Stein continues. “The great, noble concepts of Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles and everyone were all twisted around, the whole music scene closed in n itself. The point is, I never listened to Humble Pie or Neil Young or anything. I don’t know who any of these guys are. The last thing I listened to was Jimi Hendrix. Joni Mitchell is a new group to me.”
All the same, Blondie as a whole considers itself more a wave of the future than a blast from the past. Clem Burke takes up the banner: “People say our look and sound is 60s, but I could pin it down to 1979. I think it’s all 1979. Disco’s dying and there’s more of a pop attitude coming about. Songs are where it’s at, melodies, catchy lyrics, enjoyable tunes. Drugs are on the way out too. I think there’s tons of kids out there that feel the same way we do.”
“It’s not a nostalgia trip,” asserts Valentine. “We do original material. We’re not like Sha Na Na saying, ‘Hey, remember these songs?’ We’re saying, ‘Do you remember when it sounded like this, do you remember when songs sounded like songs and you could turn on the AM radio and hear ten great songs in a row?'”
Despite the air of zealous crusaders blazing a path for true pop through pagan hordes of disco bands and progressive ensembles, the band insists that Blondie wasn’t created with a predetermined goal in mind. Gary calls its makeup “more organic than synthetic”, and cuts off speculation about the grand governing idea behind the group: “It’s an old idea. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll band, a pop band. That’s about it.”
“Without any trimmings or trappings,” adds Destri, “and that’s what makes people think there’s an idea.” Stein explains: “It’s not a preconceived idea in the sense of the Ramones. The Ramones’ thing was really preconceived, they worked on it for a long time before they came out. Ours is a natural thing that we’ve all fallen into and built up.”
So far, things have built up pretty well for Blondie. After its groundbreaking on the CBGB circuit, the group joined fellow new-wavers Patti Smith, Television and the Ramones as genuine recording artists with a debut album on Private Stock, and now it’s first performing trip outside the New York area has yielded these highlights: an informal visit and songfest at Phil Spector’s house (“She’s a nice girl,” Phil remarked of Debbie, “She reminds me of one of the Shangri-Las”); the blessing of another idol, Roger McGuinn, who told them, “You guys dress just like I used to”; strong response from the L.A. teen crowd and the booking of some extra California dates; and, toward the end of their stay, the news that they would support Iggy Pop on his American tour.
Not bad for a lineup that’s been together a mere 18 months. Debbie and Chris recruited their three cohorts after the Stilettos, their high-camp girl-trio, reached the end of the glitter trail: the drummer went nuts, the bass player joined Television, and Deb’s female counterparts had a baby and went into porn movies, respectively. “I knew it wouldn’t go anyplace,” says Deborah. “Stylistically it was great. Musically there was a huge gap. It was all camp and schtick, and that’s what made it hot. It was all attitude and very little music.”
Stein, the group’s most assiduous musician, had been jamming around the New York scene for a decade, while Debbie crossed over into the rock ‘n’ roll/pop-art scene as a teenager from her home in New Jersey, where she’d already begun to acquire that bad-girl aura.
“I was an outsider in high school,” recalls our not-so-dumb blonde. “I always used to wear black, and I had my hair striped out and I always bleached it different pastel colours. Every time I got in with some people I got disenchanted and I got kicked out or quit, and I had to worry because my mother was always worried about my reputation, and my best friend was a fag. It was raunchy, but it was fun.”
Her first major involvement in New York was with the baroque folk-rock group Wind in the Willows, after which she took time off for some obligatory head-straightening before resurfacing with the Stilettos. All the while, she was absorbing the diverse influences that would make her the ideal focal point for the Blondie sound:
“Some of my biggest influences were Paul Desmond, Dave Brubeck, Cal Tjader, all those freaked-out jazz musicians, I really got into that. I really like Brigitte Bardot a lot, when she was really cool. She did a lot of cool things. She was a sort of continental punk I guess.
“And I learned a lot of things from the Beatles about sassiness. I always thought they were sassy, that was my label for them. Attitude is very important. And I always felt that sex is a cool thing to sell. It’s a sure thing.” Would Deborah be disturbed if she were recognised only as a pop personality and sex symbol of 1979 rather than as a legitimate rock vocalist? Not this blonde, who closes with a mischievous, “I’ll take whatever they want to give me.”