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How Blondie had more fun

Independent.ie – Sunday 11th July 2004

DEBBIE didn’t do Dallas. It was New York. The punk Monroe, Debbie Harry formed Blondie in New York City in August of 1974 and proceeded to take the city – and subsequently, the world – by something of a storm. (The tough chick also broke the mould where the bottle blonde was concerned.)

The alt.princess of New Wave, Harry and her group of leather-trousered boys reigned supreme in the Seventies and Eighties with seminal classics like Call Me, Heart of Glass, Hanging on the Telephone and The Tide Is High. Acting more like a movie star than a rock star, dirty Harry practically gave birth to Madonna as a result. Her sexualised image and general maverick twist on feminine imagery paved the way for the aforesaid Madonna, Annie Lennox, Gwen Stefani and, regrettably, Courtney Love, among a million others.

As one critic put it at the time, the dewy-eyed sex kitten may have been purring contentedly, but her claws were razor sharp. Heartbreakingly, dirty Harry appeared in Penthouse without revealing much.

She was street fashion incarnate in an era of horrible kitsch. Who could forget the plaid shirt and too-tight jeans she wore on the back cover of Blondie in 1976? Or that white dress and heels she vaunted on Parallel Lines? Debbie put her career on hold to look after companion and Blondie guitarist Chris Stein for four years as he struggled against pemphigus, a chronic disorder that blisters the skin. Blondie broke up in October 1982, primarily for that reason and possibly also because they had lost their original spark. In any event, Harry – now rebranded as Deborah Harry – launched a spirited and successful solo career while caring for Stein. He eventually recovered.

In 1998, the original line-up of Blondie reformed and have been going strong ever since. They have an album called The Curse of Blondie, but whatever kind of strange magic they peddle, it works and you can see it in action when they play Killarney next Tuesday.


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