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In 1974, Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, and her lover, leaving their former band The Stilettoes, and was formed Blondie, the name of which is inspired by truck drivers who would catcall, “Hey, Blondie!” at the platinum-haired Harry walked by.
The band became regulars at the legendary New York City club, CBGB’s, and began to make a name for themselves. Here, in exclusive extracts from her new book, Harry recalls Blondie’s meteroric rise to the top, and the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll along the way …
“Fame is a sensual kind of feeling, in the first place,” she said.
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Debbie Harry of Blondie performs on stage at Hammersmith Odeon on Dec. 11, 1980, in London. In her new memoir, she details her experiences with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll in the early days of Blondie.
“It felt like having sex, with a wash of electricity that flows through your fingers, and your legs, sometimes there is a red sensation at the base of the throat. It was thrilling, but also oddly anticlimactic.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that, for me, the best of Blondie in the early days of the band, when we were struggling artists in every around the New York city’s Lower East Side, just trying to get something going on. Everyone started to run out of money.
“No one talked about it in the mainstream of success. Who wanted to make it to the mainstream? What we were doing was so much better than that.
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“Blondie grew up to be a well-known name in a small way, but no one else in the industry was looking at us. Chris is on the well-being of, and I was a bikini barista in the financial district, and we sold some of the pot to make a few bucks. At this point, Blondie was an underdog, down to the very bottom of the heap.
“CBGB’s, 315 Bowery, has become a legend, but in those days it was a dive bar on the ground floor of one of the many flophouses that lined the avenue.
“We played CBGB’s every weekend for seven months. We didn’t have any money, we were paid in beers.
“You were happy once, they were charging two dollars at the door.
For the american punk rock band Blondie, 1979. From left to right, guitarist Frank Infante, guitarist Chris Stein, bass player Nigel Harrison, singer, Debbie Harry, keyboard player Jimmy Destri and drummer Clem Burke.
“The general public was in almost all of our friends, and all of the other groups, the city of artists and lovers.
“It was an immediate, but smaller, smoother, and more world of its own. Everyone at the scene, was in possession of drugs. That’s what it was like when a part of your social life, which is part of the creative process, it is chic and fun, and really, it just is.
“For the first time that I had done heroin and was met with a Shout of the Fields, and my boyfriend at the time, and the drummer in my first band,’ The Wind In The Willows.
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“I remember his tap-in of a small line of a grey powder. And we can smell it. And I felt a sort of rush, like I had never felt before.
“I thought, ‘Oh, this is so much fun, so relaxed. Ah, I don’t have to think about things.” It was so good, and it’s delicious! For those times when I wanted to be of the empty part of my life, or if I have something to do with some of the depression, there wasn’t anything better than heroin. Nothing.
“No one is thinking about the consequences. I don’t know if any of us knew of the consequences.
“It might sound a bit strange, when you’re talking about drugs, but it was a more innocent time. They weren’t doing it on scientific studies and the establishment of methadone clinics.
“If you wanted to use it, you will have to the drug. And if you get hung up or have a disease, you are on your own. Curiosity was a big part of it is also the drug was a new experience to have to check it out.
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“Back in the early days of the band, and we were living in the ‘Blondie ‘ Loft’ — we rehearsed it, and even played a show there.
“Chris shot a few photos of me in and around the historic city center. I knew I looked OK. I had a very good game, but I’ve always been insecure about my body.
Chris Stein, Debbie Harry and Andy Warhol posing in front of a Blondie concert at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, in August 1982.
“Chris has made me a better look. He had voyeuristic tendencies, stare at me for hours and hours in the heat of the lights, when I posed as sexily as I could towards him. However, he doesn’t need any help in getting going, it was going on. Chris and I would always end up in bed after a photo shoot.
“We had been living in for the Blondie home for a little over a year, and when the landlord threw us out.
“I don’t know why he did it. The timing was pretty bad. It was in August of 1976, we had started to work on Blondie’s debut full-length album.
“In later years, it is that our crazy ex-landlord claims that it was his pact with the devil, was created Blondie to be successful.
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“We were very persistent. We will continue to work. We are strengthened and built up a following. Now, at last, we had a deal.
“Strapped to a rocket, and is ready to be launched, and this was around the time that we really get off the ground. I mean, it took off.
“It was a wild, breathless, restless, crazy period of time, a lot of it is a blur now, and the speed with which it all unfolded. After the release of our first album, we played a bunch of shows in New York city in February of ’77 to hit the road for the first time. We are on the road.
“How to play the Whisky in LA, it was a huge turning point for the Blondie. Tom Petty opening for us in the first week.
“In the second half, we played with the Ramones, that was then, things get even crazier. There were only a couple of small changing rooms on the first floor of the Whisky, which we all share.
Debbie Harry of Blondie photographed at the Blanford’s Studios in Westminster, London, on the 8th of March 1978, during the making of a pop promo for their single, “I’m Always Touched By Your Presence Dear’ for Chrysalis Records.
“The Bands, friends, guests, and hangers-on, all crammed into this small room.
“It’s the one night of the Malcolm McLaren of the Sex Pistols was kind of in a fight with Johnny Ramone, and Johnny chased him out of the room, with a guitar on his head.
“Any other night, there was a guy on the floor, completely dressed in black, including his hair, beard, and mustache.
“He was wearing a cape, aviator sunglasses, and a huge cross on a chain, and one ‘In the Flesh’ button on his lapel. With Phil Spector.
“He was flanked by two tall, good-looking, immaculately-dressed pair of twins who have been setting that night.
“It was the beginning of the Ramones, and everyone in the room except for us.
“While the glamour of the twins was standing in front of the door, keeping everyone out, or, perhaps, to keep us in, and Phil kept up a long monologue in the wee hours of the morning.
“To be buried somewhere in the seemingly endless quest an invitation to his house.
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“Phil is a walled mansion, which was very close to the Strip. I remember the cold air, and how much ‘Phil Spector’ and he was right. Chris remembers Phil greets us with a Colt .45 in one hand and a bottle of Manischewitz wine in the other.
“There were a few other guests that night and we all had to sit down. Phil didn’t want to have someone to walk with them.
“And then he started to play the piano. He wanted me to sit down on the bench next to him and sing “Be My Baby”, and some of the Ronettes songs with him. He liked me to sing, and to sing.
“I didn’t want to, because I had a lot of shows, but Phil was in the zone, and it was not to be denied.
“And then a few minutes later, as we sat together on the couch, and Phil took out his gun, put it at the top of my thigh-high boots, and said,” Bang, bang!’ He was a genius, and he had a gun, and his paranoia was paramount, and that is not going to always get it right. I think it’s sad that he’s in the prison, then still in front of the poor woman whom he lured to his home and then shot to death.
“After our first Whisky show, we went to San Francisco, the Mabuhay Gardens.
“The girls were elegant and beautiful, and so are the boys in the band, what is the proper way of wild times.
“I’ve had a few wild times of my own, fending off some very aggressive women, some of them were after me, and it was after Chris.
“And then there was a wild party at an art gallery, and the boys broke it in, literally broke it in with a brick or a cinder block through the front door.
Iggy Pop, is a winner of the GQ Lifetime Achievement Award, and Debbie Harry attend the GQ men Of The Year Awards on Sept. 3, 2019, in London.
“We were high on the energy of a couple of weeks in LA, everyone had to follow in the footsteps of rock history, and they have a reputation to build on! Next up was Blondie’s first tour de france. With Iggy Pop, and David Bowie. We played over 20 shows with them. Beyond that stage, we would have to hang around a little bit and talking about just everyday things, but it was a little different, but for me it’s the one and only girl.
“I was with Chris, we’ve had a few, but there is still nothing to compare with, the only woman to be on the road with all the guys.
“One time, David and Iggy were on the hunt for a hit.
Their connection to New York city, suddenly passed away, and they were out. A friend had given me a gram of it, but I had barely touched it.
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“I don’t care for a coke is too much — it made me nervous, and it affected my eyes. So, I went up to my massive amount of cocaine, and she sucked it with a loud bang.
“After such a blow, David pulled out his c—k — like I can official t-piece or something. Since I’m in an all-male band, or maybe they just thought I was really c—c-check-in-lady. David-the size, it was notorious, of course, he had to take both the men’s and women’s. It was such a fun, cute, and sexy.
“A moment later, Chris walked into the room, but the show was over. Can’t see anything. That was kind of a relief.
“It’s probably all of the boys said,” Oh, that David and Iggy took Debbie to the top, ” he said, as he pulled his testosterone levels are in a tizzy. When Chris and I left the room, I had to wonder “why?” Be ” don’t let me have a look at his d—k.
David Bowie once described the music business as a psychiatric hospital, you would only be let out of the promotion, or to make any other record than that in the us. That sounds about right.
Debbie Harry interview with David Bowie before his concert as part of The Reality Tour at Manchester Evening News Arena, Manchester, England, on Nov. 17, 2003.
When Blondie became successful, and the pressures of the music industry and the constant need for more stuff, more travel, more pressure, we had our limit.
“But then, you’d just have to keep moving, like a moth drawn to the flame.
“Those moments when we are closest to the true rock ‘n’ roll madness, the show we played at CBGB’s before you on the Iggy tour; the room was so oversold that a person, most likely, our manager, called the fire department, and I was on the stage, looking at all these helmets and uniforms, try to make your way through the crowd.
“They shut us out twice, but we kept on playing.
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“And then there was a in-store from Our Price records in London, back when there was such a mob that the police had to block the road.
“Germany, which is where we got the fans to cling on to a bus, or throw themselves in front of it.
“I want to be on the stage, and there would be 5,000 people, dynamic in their desire to be with me. You might think that in the heat of it. The raw, animal-like physicality.
“They can sense the transmission of a strong family. Click on to go to work to make them even more so. And in this crazy feedback loop, it would keep building and building.
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“It was a real one. Very, very real.”
This article was originally published in The Sun.