Deborah Ann Harry was born on July 1st 1945 in Miami, Florida. She shares her date of birth with Princess Diana, Pamela Anderson, Olivia de Havilland and comedian Dan Ackroyd.
Moving to New York in the late 1960s, and after a brief flirt with folk music, she teamed up with boyfriend and guitarist Chris Stein, and created one of the greatest, smartest and most enduring bands to come out of the Punk era.
From 1975, Blondie would play at The Bowery’s CBGBs along with like-minded first-wave punks The Ramones, Television, and The Dead Boys. Blondie somehow fused the energy of punk with pop sensibilities, completed by Debbie’s snappy street-smart come backs of someone who’d had the word “Blondie” cat-called at them all their life.
In a lot ways Blondie are the perfect pop band; they had enough authentic dirt and attitude to define them as an essential part of the late 1970s NYC punk scene, but they were also, simultaneously equipped with the right kind of glam and swagger to tip themselves into the global marketplace of shiny hit records, and even after some years out of the spotlight, they still tour the globe and hold the same fascination as they ever did.
So what’s their secret?
The obvious and easy answer to this, is Debbie. Without doubt, Debbie has delivered some of the most masterful vocals in modern rock – featuring deadpan sarcasm, mixed with a “I’m just one of the band but also a bit of a maverick” attitude, a combination that has put her in a league of her own. She also possesses one of the most photogenic, and consequently most photographed, faces of modern music. There are the ever present comparisons to Marilyn Monroe, not just because she’s blonde, but because Debbie oozes the same sort of natural beauty which seems to stick to the celluloid like glue.
Debbie became the template for the modern pop star, and by her shining example, she opened the doors for the wannabes that were in the queue behind her. People like Madonna and Gwen Stefani, both of who had their own style, but neither of them half as convincing as the original.
Debbie’s face has appeared on the front cover of thousands of magazines, she’s been behind multiple worldwide number one hit records, appeared in films, and on TV. Debbie spans practically the full spectrum of popular culture, all without missing a beat.
In the art world she worked with Andy Warhol, becoming the subject of a set of Polaroids and acrylic silk screens, just as he’d worked with Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Onassis before her. Warhol’s endorsement sealed the deal on just how spectacular he thought she was.
Punk Girl, Pop Icon, all round inspiration, and maybe a lesson to us all…. Be More Debbie!
“I think the best thing [Andy Warhol] taught me was always to be open to new things, new music, new style, new bands, new technology and just go with it. Never get mired in the past and always accept new things whatever age you are.”