Punk Rock’s Platinum Princess.
By Taylor Neumann, ReMIND Magazine
Born Angela Trimble on July 1, 1945, Deborah Ann Harry was adopted and renamed when she was 3 months old. She grew up in New Jersey and moved to New York City in the mid-1960s to pursue a singing career, working odd jobs as a secretary, waitress, go-go dancer and even a Playboy Bunny.
Harry began her musical career as a backup singer for the group the Wind in the Willows, who released an album in 1968. In 1973, she joined the Stilettos and met guitarist Chris Stein, and in 1974 she and Stein left the band to start another, Angel and the Snake. But later that year, Angel and the Snake took on another name — Blondie, after the word cab drivers would yell out their windows at Harry — and the band was soon a regular at well-known New York clubs. Audiences began to believe that “Blondie” was Harry’s real name — something she tried to escape as the band became more popular.
The band released a self-titled debut album in 1976 and a second, Plastic Letters, in 1977, but it wasn’t until their third — 1978’s Parallel Lines — that the band achieved worldwide fame and international success. The single “Heart of Glass” reached No. 1 in the U.S. and the U.K. and sold nearly 2 million copies in those countries. The band continued to release yearly albums, with the platinum Eat to the Beat in 1979 and Autoamerican in 1980, which included the hits “The Tide Is High” and “Rapture.”
Harry embarked on a solo career in 1981 with the album KooKoo, which many stores refused to carry due to its controversial album art. In 1982, Blondie reunited for their sixth album, which wasn’t well-received and, along with other factors, caused the band to break up. Throughout the rest of the ’80s and ’90s, Harry continued to put out solo material, which included singles like “Kiss It Better” and “I Can See Clearly.” She also began acting, receiving rave reviews for her role in 1983’s Videodrome and appearing in Forever, Lulu (1987), Hairspray (1988), Heavy (1995) and Cop Land (1997).
In 1997, Blondie began working together again for the first time in 15 years. They released their seventh album in 1999 and continued to release albums into the new millennium, with their latest coming in 2017. Most recently, Harry wrote a memoir, Face It, which came out in October 2019 — when asked about her outrageous life, Harry said, “The only thing I regret is I can’t wear heels anymore.” She lives part of the year in New Jersey with her four dogs.
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