Melody Maker

July 2nd 1994 – page 9
A.W.O.L. The Column that asks, Whatever happened to…?

MARK ROLAND peers at BLONDIE’s roots
BLONDIE were formed in New York in 1974 by Debbie Harry (who had released an album with the folk-rock band, Wind In The Willows, in 1968) and Chris Stein (guitar). The line-up stabilized to include Jimmy Destri (keyboards), Gary Valentine (bass) and Clem Burke (drums). Erstwhile members Ivan Kral and Fred Smith went on respectively to join The Patti Smith Group and to put together Television with Tom Verlaine. Blondie signed to Private Stock Records in 1976, and released their eponymous debut LP in the same year. After tours with Iggy Pop and Television, Gary Valentine left to form The Know and was replaced by Frank Infante as the band signed to Chrysalis. Infante moved onto rhythm guitar and English bass player Nigel Harrison joined. The release of “Plastic Letters” in late 1979, ushered in a rush of big hits, initially in the UK, with “Denis” and “(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear”. The third LP, “Parallel Lines”, sold over 20 million copies, stuffed as it was with global hits like “Heart Of Glass” and “Hanging On The Telephone”. As the Eighties got under way, Blondie had further hits with “Atomic” and “The Tide Is High”, but the LPs were getting weaker and before Blondie’s last LP, the poorly-received “The Hunter”, came out, Debbie Harry had already embarked on a solo and acting career. The band split in 1982, after cancelling a UK tour due to poor ticket sales. Jimmy Destri released a solo LP, “Heart On The Wall”, and then became a session player. Clem Burke played for the Eurythmics, among others in the Eighties, and was last spotted in Dramarama. Nigel Harrison became an A&R man for the LA label, interscope, and also played in the Brothers Figaro. Stein launched his own label called Animal (through Chrysalis) which released a couple of Iggy Pop and Gun Club records, but in 1983 he became seriously ill with the skin disease, pemphigus, which kept him off the scene for three years. Harry pursued her solo career and appeared in the David Cronenberg movie, “Videodrome” (which included one celebrated scene, now censored, of James Woods burning her breast with a cigarette during a bout of SM rumpy pumpy), but withdrew in 1983 to look after Chris Stein. He recovered and the pair continued working on Harry’s solo career, which is now in question since she was recently dropped by Chrysalis.

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