Blondie is an American rock band founded in New York City in 1974 by singer-songwriter Deborah Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. The band was a pioneer in the early American new wave and punk scenes of the mid-70s, developing their sound in famous NYC clubs such as CBGBs. With hits such as "Atomic", "Call Me". "Heart of Glass", and "Maria" as well as sales of over 40 million records worldwide, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. Their original lineup consisted of Deborah Harry (vocals), Chris Stein (guitar, bass guitar), Clem Burke (drums, percussion), Jimmy Destri (keyboards), and Gary Valentine (bass guitar, guitar).
Band lore states that their name came from both a flippant reference to Adolf Hitler's dog Blondie as well as vocalist Harry's bright blond hair. Previously having been a Playboy Bunny, Harry fronted the early version of the band. initially known as "Angel and the Snakes". They built up underground fame in NYC. Blondie released their first album, 'Blondie', in 1976. The album was mildly successful and spawned the Australian hit single "In The Flesh". Gary Valentine left the band later that year, and they continued briefly as a foursome, recording 'Plastic Letters' and gaining more airplay with their track "Denis". Still in touch with their punk roots, having played in clubs such as CBGBs and hung out with rock artists such as the Ramones, the band broke out into other, more diverse influences such as older dance and pop music, particularly interested in Phil Spector's 'wall of sound' technique.
Valentine was replaced by Los Angeles-based musician Frank Infante (guitar, bass guitar) in 1977. Infante had already played guitar on one track on 'Plastic Letters'. The band went out playing live with Infante and Stein swopping between playing guitar and bass guitar throughout each concert. The band also added British born but LA-based Nigel Harrison (bass guitar), making Blondie a six piece group for the first time. Harrison was a former member of the glam rock band Silverhead.
In 1978, they released the album that would make them international stars, titled 'Parallel Lines'. The album spawned several hit singles, including the number one hit "Heart Of Glass", "Sunday Girl", "Hanging On The Telephone" (a cover of the famous power pop track by The Nerves), and "One Way Or Another". The success of the heavily disco influenced "Heart of Glass", a song sometimes censored for its use of strong language for the time and considered by the band as tongue-in-cheek, proved controversial among many fans of the band's punk background, but it managed to break them through at a massive level.
They released three more albums (1979's Eat To The Beat, 1980's Autoamerican (containing the number one singles "The Tide Is High" and "Rapture") and 1982's The Hunter) as well as a number one single "Call Me", from the score of the 1980 film "American Gigolo".
In 1980, Harrison contributed several unused Blondie songs to ex-Silverhead singer Michael Des Barres solo album I'm Only Human. In 1981, Harry released a solo album Koo Koo, Destri released a solo album Heart On A Wall. Burke recorded and played live with the Eurythmics, and Stein started a record label named Animal Records.
In 1982, health problems for Stein, declining sales and inter-band tension caused the band to split. Harry kept a low profile for a few years while she nursed (now former) boyfriend Stein through a serious illness, but then continued a solo career as an actress/singer.
Reformation plans begun in 1997 with a line-up that included Harry, Stein, Destri, Burke, Valentine, and Harrison. Infante was not invited to the reunion. Valentine and Harrison were eventually (and unceremoniously, they claim) replaced by Paul Carbonara (guitar) and Leigh Foxx (bass).
The band released No Exit in 1998, which did quite well in both US and UK charts and contained the number one hit single "Maria".
The album did not include any song contributions from Valentine or Harrison, despite them recording early sessions for the album and Valentine being assured by Stein that they would use his already recorded song "Amor Fati". Harrison and Infante later filed an unsuccessful lawsuit claiming breach of contract for not including them in the reunion.
The Curse Of Blondie was released in 2003 and, while not matching its predecessor in sales, was critically acclaimed and spawned the global dance hit "Good Boys".
Destri retired from touring in 2004, but is still listed as a band member on their official web site. Kevin Patrick (keyboards), Destri's former keyboard tech and assistant, replaced him soon followed by Matt Katz-Bohen in 2008.
The band's 2006 induction ceremony into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame was the scene of an awkward moment between Infante and Harry, during which he asked that the former members be allowed to play along with fellow inductees Harry, Stein and Burke during the band's set, since it was the original band that was being inducted. Harry replied "Can't you see my band is up there?" prompting Infante to counter "I thought it was Blondie that was being inducted."
In 2006, the band toured as the opening act for The New Cars on the "Road Rage Tour." Although Harry was more than 60 years old, the band still managed incendiary versions of their old hits, while playing with enough fire to remind the audience of their punk roots.
In 2007, the band embarked on a tour of Europe, to coincide with the DVD release of the first ever music video album "Eat To The Beat".
Harry has since resumed her solo career, releasing 2007's Necessary Evil.
On June 5, 2008, Blondie commenced a world tour to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Parallel Lines with a concert at Ram's Head Live in Baltimore, Maryland. The tour covered some Eastern and Midwestern US cities throughout the month of June. In July, the tour took the band overseas to Israel, the UK, Russia, Europe and Scandinavia, wrapping up on August 2, 2008 at Rockefeller in Oslo, Norway.
Clem Burke and Paul Carbonara both recently told interviewers that the band is working on another record, which would be their first new album since the release of The Curse of Blondie in 2003. Carbonara described it as "a real Blondie record.
Blondie undertook a North American tour of mid-sized venues with Pat Benatar and The Donnas in the summer of 2009. Following the tour, in October, the band began recording sessions for their ninth studio album with producer Jeff Saltzman in Woodstock, New York. In December 2009, the band released the song "We Three Kings" to coincide with the Christmas holiday.
The new album, to be titled Panic of Girls, which was being mixed at the time, was said to follow in 2010. Chris Stein stated that Dutch artist Chris Berens will provide the cover art. In April 2010, it was announced that guitarist Paul Carbonara had amicably left Blondie to pursue other projects and was replaced by Tommy Kessler. Panic of Girls is tentatively set to be released in 2010/2011.
In June 2010, Blondie began the first leg of a world tour named "Endangered Species Tour", which covered the United Kingdom and Ireland, supported by UK band Little Fish. The set lists featured both classics and new material from the forthcoming Panic of Girls. After a break in July the tour will resume in August and cover the United States and Canada over a course of six weeks. Blondie is then set to take the "Endangered Species Tour" to Australia and New Zealand in November and December. It was revealed that the bands album will be released on the Australian Sony label in November 2010, and elsewhere in January 2011.
Songfacts reports that Mother, the first single from Panic of Girls received its global premiere on BBC Radio on March 17th, 2011 and was made available for purchase on May 23, 2011.