New York, New York, United States
Blondie, fronted by the alternately brassy and brittle singer Debbie Harry, was perhaps the most successful rock band to emerge from the New York punk scene of the 1970s, thanks to such propulsive singles as "Heart of Glass," "Call Me" and "Rapture." Blondie was spawned from the romantic and professional union of Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, who initially performed together in the Stillettoes. The duo left that group in 1974 to form Blondie - a moniker drawn from Harry's platinum tresses - with an array of fellow musicians until settling on drummer Clem Burke, bassist Gary Valentine and keyboard player Jimmy Destri. That lineup became a staple of punk clubs like Max's Kansas City, and issued an eponymous debut album with the Private Stock label in 1976. The record fared poorly upon its initial release, prompting Blondie to part ways with Private Stock and sign with Chrysalis in 1977; that iteration drew critical praise for Harry's icy vocals and sonic nods to the garage and girl group sounds of the '60s on singles like "In the Flesh" and "X Offender." Success in Australia helped to boost the band's profile in the UK, where their second album, Plastic Letters (1978), reached No. 10 on the albums chart. By this time, Valentine had been replaced by Frank Infante and Nigel Harrison, who expanded the quartet to a six-piece unit; that lineup was on board for Blondie's breakout LP, Parallel Lines (1978). The disco-flavored "Heart of Glass" became a chart-topping single in the U.S. and UK, and launched a string of hits that showcased the band's wide stylistic range, including the Giorgio Moroder-produced electro-pop of "Call Me" (1980) and credible takes on reggae ("The Tide is High") and rap ("Rapture"). But after a hiatus in 1981, during which Harry and Destri released solo albums, Blondie was unable to generate another successful album, and the band collapsed the following under the strain of internal tension, drug problems and Stein's diagnosis of pemphigus, a debilitating autoimmune disease. More than a decade would pass before Stein and Harry decide to revive the Blondie moniker: they, along with Burke, Destri and Valentine, played reunion shows in 1997 that led to full-fledged tours in 1998 and a new album, No Exit that broke into the U.S. Top 20 in 1999. By that point, Valentine had left the group again, with Destri following suit after the release of The Curse of Blondie (2003), leaving only Harry, Stein and Burke as the remaining original members. The trio soldiered on with an array of supporting musicians, pausing briefly in 2006 for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, before commencing with frequent tours and two new albums, Panic of Girls (2011) and a double album comprised of the greatest hits package Blondie 4(0) Ever and a new studio LP, Ghosts of Download, which reached No. 30 on the Billboard Rock Albums chart.