the times magazine
Pages 8 & 9
alan jackson calls deborah harry
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KEVIN CUMMINS/IDOLS
Blondie lead singer, Deborah Harry, 54, lives in Chelsea, New York City. The re-formed band embark on a British tour at London’s Wembley Arena tomorrow and have just release a tour souvenir EP, No Exit.
Alan Jackson: You’re in Offenbach, Germany, I believe. The city of your dreams?
Deborah Harry: Not exactly. It looks as if it was all erected in the Sixties. And we’re just in from Frankfurt, which is pretty much the same. Neither are what you’d call picturesque.
AJ: So much for the glamorous life. We imagine you making stately progress around the world’s concert halls, every luxury to hand. The reality I suppose is arenas sited on the edge of retail parks, with nothing but Office World and drive-thru’ burger bars.
DH: You’ve pretty much got it. The real fans know what our working lives are like, but I think the general public still has very little idea of the effort it takes to be successful as a pop or rock musician.
AJ: Is touring with Blondie an altogether more sedate occupation these days – less of a sex’n’drugs fest and more of a mug-of-cocoa-and-early-to-bed thing?
DH: Cocoa? Did you say cocoa?
AJ: Yes. It’s a soothing night-time drink favoured by people who wear carpet slippers and have hanging baskets above their porches.
DH: Oh, I’m with you. Well, there’s life in the old dogs yet, but it pretty much depends on the night. If we’re staying over and we’re in the mood, we might go out to eat after the show and then on to a club. Other times it’s straight on to the bus and off towards the next venue. Cocoa hasn’t figured among the refreshments so far, though.
AJ: Thanks to the success of the reformation, you’ve been away from home for most of the year. What are you missing most?
DH: Pretty much the things you’d expect. I miss family and friends and my pets – I have a big fat calico cat called Peaches, and a teeny, tiny little dog called Chi Chan. Also, I hate having to be mindful of your possessions all the time, of always having to pick up your cassette player or the book you’re reading when you leave the room, in case it’s not there when you get back. The constant packing and unpacking can drive you mad.
AJ: When we last met, some three years ago, you were without a record deal and feeling a little neglected by the music industry. Was that the impetus for getting back together with your old partner, Chris Stein?
DH: In fact, it was more his idea than mine. I was in my little world of jazz for a while, or was busying myself appearing in small films. But Chris felt strongly that the time was right – that if we didn’t give it a try now, we’d never get round to it and that he for one would regret it. And as you see, he talked me round to the same conclusion.
AJ: And a great year has ensued, though not just for you. Cher’s recently enjoyed her biggest hit. Tina Turner and Donna Summer are in the charts again, too. Those old divas are certainly built to last!
DH: (laughing) I think perhaps it’s a fin de siècle thing – a fin de millennium thing even. Towards the end of every decade, people look back and get nostalgic for the music that they used to enjoy. Just don’t ask me to predict who among the new girls will still be here in 25 years’ time. God forbid I should condemn anyone else to longevity!