Monday, March 14, 2005

Blondie is a Group


tkDH3, originally uploaded by Cool Auntie.

The connection between New York and Los Angeles punk is clearly defined in a series of parties and shows (and corresponding photographs) that took place in February 1977.

The second week of February 77 marked Blondie's LA debut and the triumphant return of the Ramones.

Everyone turned out to see the Platinum Blonde bombshell in the flesh for the first time. There were indeed many people who referred to Debbie Harry herself as "Blondie," however, Blondie was most definitely a group.

The group, in 1977, consisted of Chris Stein, Jimmy Destri, Clem Burke, and Gary Valentine. That's Gary in the background in this shot. While he would pen their minor hit, "I'm Always Touched By Your Presence, Dear" on their second album, Plastic Letters, by the time the record came out, Gary was out of the band and living in LA, fronting his own power pop trio, The Know.

Did we know at the time that Blondie would go on to become superstars world wide? I can't be sure. At the Whisky in 1977, we pogo'd to our favorite Blondie songs - "X Offender," "Kung Fu Girls," "Rip Her to Shreds," "In The Sun," "Down at the Pier," and "You Look Good in Blue" with its suggestive hook, "I could give you some head and shoulders to lie on."

We enjoyed their covers of the campy "A Summer Place," the instrumental that they opened with, and "Palisades Park," which fit right in with their own 60s girl group flavor.

Debbie Harry was a beacon of style. You can check out my friend, Jenny Lens Punk Archive for a hot photo of Debbie on the floor, flashing us her knickers! Um, that polka dot dress she's wearing is pretty cool. Also, on Jenny's stories page, there are stories of those now famous and infamous parties where the NY and LA punks converged, as well as my own recollection of thrift shopping with Pleasant and finding the perfect Debbie Harry outfit.

Blondie's rise seemed to be meteoric. Their second album was released on a major label - Chrysalis, which seemed to also re-release their first one as well. By the time they recorded their third album, Parallel Lines, they were poised for world domination!

They appeared on American Bandstand, miming their hit "Heart of Glass," which we all knew as "The Disco Song" in its demo iteration. Parallel Lines also boasted "Hangin On The Telephone," a song by Jack Lee of the recently disbanded Nerves, which also included future Plimsoul and eventual solo artist, Peter Case. A Debbie Harry / Nigel Harrison composition, "One Way or Another" was also hit material. In fact, I hear it today as a television commerical. Don't know what it is selling - I just think, "wow.... my friends wrote that."

By 1978, Nigel Harrison had replaced Gary Valentine on bass. Nigel had been in a cool 70s glam band called Silverhead with Michael Des Barres, who had some formidable show biz cred even back then. Also, by this time, Blondie had added another guitar, which was wielded by Frank Infante.

I have a million stories about Blondie. I have a million pictures of Blondie, so I guess its digitizing time.

Thanks a million to Mark Martinez who not only had the wherewithall to keep these photos I gave him lo those 28 years ago, but he scanned them as well! Thanks Mark, you rule!

1 comment:

MrBaliHai said...

The Know was a *great* band! Gary's formed a new group called "Fire Escape" a couple of years ago. I've tried to see them the past few times I've been in the UK, but no luck.