Originally, they had two back-up singers known only as "Jackie," "Julie," "Tish," and "Snooky" which they later shed.
Before Blondie, Debbie Harry was in a folk band called Wind in the Willows, named after the children's book by Kenneth Grahame. This is the same book that was adapted into a Disney Studios animated story and on which Walt Disney theme parks based the popular (now defunct) attraction "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride."
Blondie's formation came from the fruitful New York neighborhood around CBGB in the 1970s, and so shared new-wave and punk roots with Patti Smith (briefly sharing guitarist Ivan Kral), Ramones, New York Dolls, and the Talking Heads.
At the beginning of Blondie's success in 1977, producer Mike Chapman took the band under his wing. Chapman was quite experienced with punk-type female leads - he had previously worked with Suzi Quatro. With the smash-hit single "Heart Of Glass
," the group had established themselves as a consumer-friendly pop-new-wave alternative band, with just enough of a punk tinge to be edgy. Under Chapman's care, the album Parallel Lines
became their breakout success, selling 20 million copies worldwide.
Debbie Harry has said that Marilyn Monroe was an influence on her style; however, her main intention was to invoke being blonde by itself, since it is associated with glamour, success, and desire.
Blondie's four #1 hits on the US Hot 100 were "Heart of Glass" ('79), "Call Me
" and "The Tide Is High
" ('80), and "Rapture
" ('81). Curious for a New York band, they did even better on the UK charts, scoring additional #1s on the UK Singles charts with "Sunday Girl" ('79), and "Atomic" ('81). Three #1 US hits were also #1 in the UK, leaving only "Rapture" to score a #5 in the UK.
A number of pressures led to the breakup of Blondie by 1982. The media focused on Harry to the point where the rest of the group felt like they didn't exist (think No Doubt). Their popularity was starting to wane and they weren't seeing the money they were used to. Morale was low and bickering broke out. But the coup de grace was when guitarist Chris Stein was diagnosed with pemphigus, a rare autoimmune disease that causes huge blisters on the skin and mucus membranes. He managed to get cured after a long struggle.
Blondie briefly reformed in the late 1990s to early 2000s, and again in the late 2000s, with the original members Harry, Stein, and Burke. In 2008, they toured with Pat Benatar.
The band has nothing to do with the newspaper comic strip of the same name, which began life in 1930 and until the late '70s was what most people thought of when you said "Blondie."
Debbie Harry was a Playboy bunny at the New York City Playboy Club from 1968-1973.
Chris Stein briefly played guitar in the 1960s in the short-lived garage band The Morticians, which later became the Baroque Pop quartet The Left Banke.
Frank Infante was the guitarist in the band from 1978 to 1982. He played on all the recordings from Plastic Letters
to The Hunter
. Infante performed the lead guitar on all the US hits, including "Heart Of Glass
," "One Way Or Another
," "Picture This," "Atomic
" and "Rapture
." (thanks, Jeff - San Diego, CA)