Fashion Flashback: Debbie Harry
Debbie Harry is one of my childhood idols and I had the honor of interviewing her for Swindle Magazine a few years back. The article and pix of her great style, after the jump.
Before there was Madonna and Gwen Stefani there was the Deborah Harry. Part feline, part chanteuse, part beauty queen and 100% pop punk goddess.
Boasting one of the most iconic faces and voices in the world, not mention being the hallmark of punk style, those haunting vocals, piercing eyes and ethereal presence belong to the one and only Debbie Harry.
Born in Florida in 1945, adopted by a family from New Jersey, she had a typical suburban upbringing. After graduating from Hawthorne High School, New York City was calling from across the river. She moved to lower east side and worked as a secretary, waitress and a playboy bunny, all the while floating in and out of different bands. After meeting her future band mate and boyfriend Chris Stein, Blondie was formed in 1975 and dropped its self-titled album a year later. Barely making any mark in the US, both their first and second album Plastic Letters found moderate success, mostly in Australia and Europe.
Blondie’s 3rd album Parallel Lines, however, was the one that jetted them into a new wave pop stratosphere in 1978. This album and a new medium called the music video put Blondie on the radar. With her knock out looks and amazing fashion sense (whom she credits to Stephen Sprouse) she set the world on fire with their cross over hit Heart of Glass. Parallel Lines mixed new wave with disco, and was the first of many albums using this multi genre style. Then there was Eat to the Beat, a year later, then infectious 1980 single Call Me done for the American Gigolo movie soundtrack, followed by the most influential album of my childhood Autoamerican, that introduced rap and reggae inspired tunes to a whole new audience.
But all eyes were on Debbie. Becoming both the voice and the face of the band, her role as the group’s focal point created serious tension.
So in 1982 after the release of Blondie’s 6th studio album The Hunter to a luke warm reception, the group disbanded and Debbie went underground to take care of Chris (Stein), who was diagnosed with potentially fatal Pemphigus, an auto-immune disease.
The press went rabid, constantly shooting her coming and going from the hospital as she cared for her beloved. The American public could not believe that a star on that level would leave it all behind to be a nurse and girlfriend, but Harry continued to do small roles in movies and plays including Videodrome and Hairspray while tending to her man.
But the public never forgot her or the band’s music and in 1997 Blondie reunited, performing together after 15 years apart, and released British chart topping Maria, that put them back into the eyes and ears of their fans.
“It was, in a lot of ways it was kind of—it was very moving. I had a lot of reservations about it initially, and then when we started playing together, it was as if we hadn’t really stopped. We still had that sound, and that was very exciting. The idea that we were getting together to create new music in the present, and not just dwell on our past and play the hits, it was pretty exciting. I think it was really a good move for us to approach it that way.” says Harry about the reformation of the group.
Inducted into the rock & Roll hall of fame with her Blondie band mates in 2006, releasing her 6th solo album Necessary Evil this year to her own surprise – She says “I actually I didn’t start out to make a record. I started out to work out some ideas that I had. I found some people that I really loved working with and it was just fun, really. I had some time on my hands and some ideas, and just started putting them down. It was really just that. It ended up that after a couple months I had a whole pile of tunes. I played them for my manager and he said, Oh, lets do something with this. That’s how it evolved. It wasn’t some kind of cathartic—it ended up being cathartic, but it didn’t start up with that intention.”
Not only back with Blondie, touring to support her own solo project,
and acting in indie favs, this timeless sexpot just can’t slow down. She is also one of the featured vocalist for the Jazz Passengers, founded by Roy Nathanson and Curtis Fowlkes (members of John Lurie and the Lounge Lizards) along other notables singers such as Mavis Staples and Jeff Buckley. “I got an invitation from one of the cofounders of the jazz passengers to sing on an album that they did with a whole bunch of other people called the Jazz Passengers in Love. It was all a bunch of love songs, and Hal__ was producing it. I had met Hal when he was the ___ director of Saturday Night Live, and he’s kind of a really talented, really interesting, eccentric producer. He was doing an album of Nino Rota songs, and music. And he found out that Chris Stein and I were both heavy duty Nino Roter fans, and so I also sang on that project. I guess he suggested me to Roy, and had me down to see if I could do the song, and ended up, 6 or 7 years later, singing with the band. I went and did a lot of tours with them in Europe. This was some of the time that I wasn’t doing solo projects or doing Blondie, there was a period of time in the early ‘90s when I did that, and it was a really great experience. It really taught me a lot.” When asked if she still enjoys touring Harry says “It’s really tiring, really hard work. I guess you get into the swing of it. I know what to expect, now, I know what the routine is. The stress level is a lot less when you know what’s around the bend. “
By Claw Money
Just so gorgeous!