Deborah Harry was born on July 1, 1945 in Hawthorn, New Jersey. Harry is most famous for being the lead singer of the New Wave band Blondie. She moved to New York’s Greenwich village in the late 1960’s, where she worked for a while as a Union City dancer, and later as a Playboy bunny hostess at one of Hugh Hefner’s clubs.
Her first two bands were ‘Wind in the Willows’ and and the ‘Stilettos’. Neither band had commercial success, but Harry met Chris Stein, with whom she began a romantic relationship. In 1973 formed ‘Blondie’. Originally called ‘Angel and the Snake’, they decided to rename their band in honor of the ‘Hey Blondie!’ cat calls that Harry always got from construction workers.
Harry’s image was so closely associated with the band name that it was thought to be her real name. Harry was as famous for her tough girl persona, fierce sneers, and hypnotic stage moves as her bleached blonde hair. She carried herself on stage with raw emotion, wearing clothing that clung to her. She was the original Rock Chick, wearing studded belts with tights and thigh high boots, a look still popular today.
Harry had her roots in Punk and played alongside it’s biggest acts, such as ‘The Ramones’. When the record label got involved, they cleaned up the band’s look, but nothing could supress the raw sexuality that Harry exuded. ‘Blondie’ first released their album in 1976 with the first Number 1 single ‘Heart of Glass’ from the album ‘Parallel Lines’. Harry’s princible writing partner for ‘Blondie’ was Stein.
Blondie played regularly at Max’s Kansas City, a nightclub popular for musicians, poets, artists and politicians in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Acts that played there included Lou Reed, Velvet Underground and David Bowie. CBGB was a music venue known for emerging punk acts in the 1970’s, and included regulars such as the Ramones, Patti Smith and the Talking Heads. Harry was also a regular at Studio 54, a disco notorious hang out for celebrities, royalty and extravagant behavior. Early in Harry’s career, she was considered a female David Bowie, a cameleon who constantly changed her image.
After a series of hits with ‘Blondie’, Harry launched a solo career, dyed her hair bright red, and based her image on the art work of H.R. Geiger. She still kept ties with her band, but wanted to distance herself from the image she’d had because she felt it was rude to base her new direction on the success they’d had together. Her album ‘Koo Koo’ did not reach the same level of comercial success.
Harry began to act in films and did some comercials with Andy Wharhol. While on tour In 1981, Chris Stein became ill with a rare disease and the tour was cut short. At the peak of her career, Harry took time to take care of him, and ‘Blondie’ broke up in 1982. In the later 1980’s a remix album was released.
After a break during the 1980’s, Harry remerged in the mid-90’s and performed with ‘The Jazz Passengers’ until the final European tour in 1998. Harry reunited with ‘Blondie’ that same year, releasing ‘Maria’ which was the bands sixth number one hit.
In 1999, at age 53, Harry was entered into the Guiness Book of World records for being the oldest U.K. singer to have a #1 hit with ‘Maria’. In 2006, ‘Blondie’ was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Harry’s most recent tour was with ‘Blondie’ in 2008, where she still has the energy that shot her to stardom.
Images courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.