Photo by F. Scott Schafer
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Years before Madonna and decades before Lady Gaga, Debbie Harry blazed musical trails and reigned supreme as the lead singer of Blondie, an edgy band that came straight out of the mid- to late-’70s CBGB punk scene and skyrocketed to stardom with an unlikely hit, the disco-infused New Wave anthem “Heart of Glass.” But it was Harry’s tough-yet-fragile beauty and sassy Bowery-chick attitude combined with the band’s gritty, streetwise, sometimes angst-ridden lyrics set to impossibly catchy pop melodies that turned Blondie into a hit-making machine, selling more than 40 million records. We caught up with Harry, now 67, who takes the stage with Blondie at the Capitol Theatre on October 7.
You were the first female rock singer who was not only beautiful but extremely talented and incredibly cool. You wrote and performed your own songs and managed to bring a punk sensibility onto the mainstream radar at the height of disco. How did you do it? I don’t know. I guess I was in the right time and the right place. Plus, I was really determined.
Blondie was one of the first true ‘crossover’ bands with this convergence of punk, pop, rock, and disco. What was your role? We were part of the punk scene. A lot of our songs were sort of anti-social and took different political stances.
And today, more than three decades later, you have a whole new audience because of Bridesmaids, which featured ‘Rip Her to Shreds.’ I know! Isn’t that funny?
Are you noticing a mix of fans in your audiences? It’s always been a good, healthy combination of age groups for Blondie. I can’t explain it except that there’s probably a lot of strange, sick people in the world!