Debbie Harry is a singer and actress known for leading Blondie, a new wave band known for their No. 1 hits ‘Heart of Glass’, ‘Call Me’, ‘The Tide Is High’ and ‘Rapture’.
Debbie Harry was born in Florida in 1945 and met guitarist Chris Stein in the 1970s, and the two started a band that would later become the world-famous Blondie. Blondie was categorized as new wave (a genre of music shaped by styles that include punk, electronics, reggae and funk) and eventually met commercial and critical success. The band’s third album, Parallel Lines, catapulted Harry to stardom, and the song “Heart of Glass” reached No. 1, followed later by other toppers such as “Call Me,” “The Tide Is High,” and “Rapture.” With her musical know-how and fascinating aesthetic, Debbie Harry became a pop icon and influenced many female singers who followed later.
Background and early life
Debbie Harry was born to Deborah Ann Harry on July 1, 1945 in Miami, Florida, and was adopted by Richard and Catherine Harry when she was 3 months old. Harry grew up in Hawthorne, New Jersey and sang in the church choir. She attended college for two years before dropping out and moving to New York City. After singing with the 1960s band Wind in the Willows and working as a Playboy Bunny, Harry ended up on tables at Max’s Kansas City, a popular club that was part of the downtown art and music scene.
Harry later joined the Stilettos, a female trio, and met guitarist Chris Stein, who joined the group. Over time, Stein and Harry became romantically involved. In 1974 the two joined the band that would eventually become known as Blondie. The budding new wave act played many of the legendary clubs in New York, including CBGB.
Blondie’s self-titled debut was released in 1976. The following year, the band toured in support of their second album, Plastic Letters, which hit number 2 on the UK charts with single “Denis.” Over the years, Blondie has remained a formidable force in the UK.
Commercial breakthrough: ‘Parallel Lines’
Blondie’s third album, the critically elevated Parallel Lines, helped catapult the band to pop star status.
The disco / glamor single “Heart of Glass” reached the top of the US charts in 1978, while the campy, more traditionally rock-like “One Way or Another” became a top 25 hit. Harry not only served as the lead vocalist for the group, but also wrote many of her songs with Stein.
With her white blonde hair, high cheekbones and impressive, cool style inspired in part by comics and movies, Harry became a pop music icon. Harry was one of the few female artists to rise to the top and paved the way for later acts such as Madonna.
Blondie continued to be successful with the group’s next two albums, Eat to the Beat (1979), with “Dreaming” and “Atomic”, and Autoamerican (1980), with two more hits from No. 1 – the reggae / mariachi influences “The Tide Is High” and dance-rap song “Rapture.” The band had also reached number 1 with the rock song “Call Me”, a collaboration with producer / songwriter Giorgio Moroder that appeared on the soundtrack for American Gigolo (1980).
In addition to her work with the band, Harry found time to act in a few film projects, including Union City (1980) and Videodrome (1983).
Blondie broke up in 1982, because around this time Stein fell ill with a rare skin disease. Harry took time out from her career to take care of him. He recovered, but their relationship did not survive, although the two friends remained. Harry later revealed that she was also romantically involved with women, although her long-term relationships were with men. Throughout her life, the singer has spoken emphatically about conversations and her work about desire and intimacy.
After Blondie reunited and released No Exit, they continued to collaborate on several projects. In 2004 they released their eighth studio album, The Curse of Blondie, featuring the top 20 UK single “Good Boys”. In 2008, the group went on tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Parallel Lines, followed by the release of the album Panic of Girls (2011).
In 2014, the band released their tenth studio album Ghosts of Download, bundled with rerecorded versions of the biggest hits. The following year, Harry appeared in the original series Difficult People of Hulu. She has also campaigned for fair pay to artists in an era of streaming, citing in her opinion the lack of adequate compensation to musicians / singers by online video site YouTube.