1. Blondie was originally called “The Angel and the Snake.”
Before Blondie, Chris Stein was in a folk band called “The Wind in the Willows” (named after the children’s book.) Looking to join a band in lieu with a burgeoning bohemian Greenwich Village scene, Stein began playing guitar in The Stilettos and quickly became involved with one of the band’s singers, Debbie Harry. Eventually the two left the band to start “Angel and the Snake,” dubbed “Blondie” in 1975 after Harry’s nickname.
2. Debbie Harry claims to have regular psychic episodes.
The first psychic event took place when she was three, right after her parents told her she was adopted. She writes: “We lived in Hawthorne, New Jersey, where I spent almost every day in the year digging in my sand pile, daydreaming, and swinging. One day I started hearing voices coming from a brick fireplace my dad had built, telling me complex mathematical information. I ran into the house to tell my mother what I’d heard and how important it was. She laughed as I tried to verbalize what I thought I had heard because it sounded ridiculous. The exhilarating physical sensation this psychic contact had given me was gone and I was left feeling oddly empty.”
4. The famous zebra print dress Debbie wore in an early poster was originally a pillow case.
A pillow case she found in the garbage! At the time, none of her friends (or her!) had any money, so they’d often find clothing in the trash. More often than not, in decent condition.
5. On Christmas day 1978, Clem Burke, Frankie Infante and Chris Stein crashed a boat in Australia.
Debbie recounts the story in “Making Tracks,” “Clem, Frankie and Chris decided they would go on a boat ride to one of the surrounding islands in Australia. One the way the waves pushed their boat up against some sharp coral reefs, which cut up the bottom. The boat started to sink, the engine fell off, and the boys had to scramble onto a little island where equally sharp coral cut up their feet. They were late coming back, and fearing they had been eaten by sharks I sent out the old salt whose job it was to rescue drowning vacationers, and he found them huddled on this reed. The old salt told them there was nothing worst than cunts at sea, towed the boat back, and made them pay for it and the motor. At least they managed to make the gig that night. We jammed and played bar music three nights in a row for 25 or 30 people who happened to be hanging out.”
6. Debbie Harry claims she first became aware of her sexuality when she was about 10 or 11.
In her book, she mentions that one evening, when she was 11, her family was on vacation in Cape Cod. A young Harry would put on lipstick with her cousin and go out about town—without her parents knowing. One day they successfully picked up two gentlemen who walked them home and offered to pick them up later for a drink. She recounts the story in Blondie: Parallel Lives, “At 11 p.m. that night our mothers had put us in pajamas and told us to go to bed, when these two guys came knocking at the door. We went down and opened it and you should have seen the faces of these two guys when they saw these two little kids there, without lipstick. It turned out that they were both very famous musicians. They gave us both autographed pictures and stuff. But my parents were really shocked.”
7. Blondie’s hit single “Hanging on the Telephone” was originally written by California power pop band The Nerves.
“Hanging on the telephone,” was also the second single from Blondie’s third album “Parallel Lines” and the first to reach any real mainstream success. Listen to Blondie’s version here and The Nerves’ here.
8. Blondie were slated to write and record the theme for For Your Eyes Only, the 1981 James Bond film.
Blondie’s 1981 album “The Hunter” includes the track “For Your Eyes Only,” originally recorded for the James Bond film. The producers rejected it and eventually settled on another track by Sheena Easton.
9. Debbie Harry worked as a Playboy Bunny before starting Blondie.
According to her co-authored band autobiography (Chris Stein assisted) “Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie,” Debbie Harry worked as a Playboy Bunny for nine months after a brief stint as a waitress at famed punk venue Max’s Kansas City.
10. In February 1999, Debbie Harry was the oldest female singer to obtain a No. 1 hit in the UK with the song “Maria.”
Harry was 53 years old at the time. The previous record was held by Cher (the week before!) with the song “Believe.” The age difference was a matter of days.
11. Blondie’s song “Call Me” was originally meant to be sung by Stevie Nicks.
12. Blondie’s original bassist Fred Smith left to take Richard Hell’s place in Television.
Legend has it, the band trade was Patti Smith’s idea, though it is unknown what she told Smith to convince him. According to Gary Valentine’s book, “New York Rocker: My Life in the Blank Generation,” Fred left to join Television in March 1975.
13. Debbie Harry originally started singing in her church choir.
A surprising fact that does seem to fit her public persona: the punk princess started singing in choir and was even a cheerleader in high school. She claims not to have been a very good one, and recalls being “very anxious.” She states, “They had me twirling and dropping the baton for the bending over aspect. I was there for the pervert fathers. Looking at my underpants!”
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