When Debbie Harry hit the New York punk scene in the 1970s, she changed rock and roll forever. With her band, Blondie, Harry created a new sound combining the best elements of punk, new wave, and disco.
Despite their success, a shocking health issue led Blondie to break up in the early 1980s. So what is Debbie Harry doing now?
We have all the latest updates on the frontwoman, so you don’t have to wonder.
The Story of Debbie Harry
Debbie Harry was born on July 1, 1945. Born Angela Tremble, she was renamed Deborah Ann Harry by her adoptive parents, Richard and Catherine Harry. As a young girl, she sang in a church choir in her hometown of Hawthorne, New Jersey. After completing an associate’s degree at Centenary College, the future star moved to New York City.
Harry worked as a waitress, secretary, and even a Playboy Bunny in New York. In 1973 she joined an all-girl band called The Stilettos, where she met guitarist Chris Stein, and the two started their own band one year later. Inspired by the catcalls and whistles she received after dyeing her hair blonde, Harry eventually christened the band “Blondie.”
Blondie played regularly at the legendary New York City punk club CBGB. They released a self-titled album in 1976. Despite mediocre sales numbers, Blondie caught the attention of another record label. Their second album, Plastic Letters, came out in 1978, topping the European music charts and making them a household name in the U.S.
The band’s third and fourth albums were hugely successful. Songs like Dreaming, The Tide is High, and Call Me propelled them to the top of the charts. However, the band broke up in 1982, and Harry launched her solo career shortly after.
Blondie reunited in the late 1990s. Since then, they’ve released five more albums, including 2017’s Pollinator. Harry has starred in movies and TV shows and even released a memoir in 2019. She’s among the most influential female voices in punk and new wave.
Debbie Harry’s Best-Known Songs
Debbie Harry was the genius behind dozens of hit songs in the 1970s and 1980s. Her bold voice and sharp lyrics captivated audiences around the world. We’ve put together some of our favorite hits.
Heart of Glass
Heart of Glass was the third single from Blondie’s album Plastic Letters. The track reached number one on both the U.S. and U.K. charts.
Harry and Stein composed the song’s melody and lyrics, while their keyboardist Jimmy Destri developed the catchy synthesizer rhythm. One early version of the song was arranged in a reggae style.
Despite its success, some listeners disliked the track’s disco influences. In some social circles, this ’70s dance music was controversial, but Heart of Glass brought a rock sensibility to the genre.
Blondie released Call Me in 1980. The song was written for the American Gigolo soundtrack, which came out in early 1980. Since then, several movies, including Zoolander, Bride of Chucky, and Pitch Perfect 3, have also used the track.
The band’s biggest hit ever in the U.S. was Call Me. In fact, it was the highest-grossing single in 1980.
Debbie Harry co-wrote the song with Giorgio Moroder, who composed and produced the American Gigolo soundtrack. But she wasn’t his first pick. Moroder previously tried and failed to recruit Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks for the tune.
One Way or Another
One Way or Another appears on Blondie’s 1978 album Parallel Lines. It was another chart-topping hit, reaching number four in the U.S.
Debbie Harry wrote the song about an experience with a stalker. The singer explained in an interview that the song was her attempt to “inject a little levity” into the situation.
Despite its dark roots, the track took on a life of its own. Many contemporary listeners associate One Way or Another with determination and perseverance. Harry herself helped shift this perspective by performing the song on The Muppet Show in 1981.
Why Did Blondie Stop Performing?
Tragedy struck the band in 1982. Guitarist Chris Stein came down with a mysterious illness while Blondie toured with Duran Duran. Shortly after the tour, Stein went to the emergency room with difficulty moving and swallowing. He was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called pemphigus vulgaris.
Blondie canceled their next tour while Harry cared for Stein, leading to the band’s dissolution. After a few months, Blondie officially announced their breakup in November 1982. Stein and Harry, romantically involved since the 1970s, broke up a few years later.
Does Debbie Harry Wear a Wig?
Although the singer still sports her signature color, she also experiments with wigs. In a 2017 conversation with InStyle, she explained that they allow her to try other colors.
Debbie Harry’s iconic blonde hair was the inspiration for the name of her band. But her hair wasn’t always platinum! As a young girl, the artist’s hair was strawberry blonde. She began her journey to true blonde by lifting her natural color with peroxide and ammonia.
When Blondie became famous, many fans thought the name of the band was Harry’s name. Their manager made pins saying, “Blondie is a group!” to avoid confusion.
What Is Debbie Harry Doing Now?
Today, Debbie Harry is in her late 70s, but that hasn’t stopped her from making music. Blondie is on tour through September 2023, with shows booked in the U.S., U.K., Mexico, and Colombia.
The musician still enjoys playing live shows. Despite getting older, she has no current plans to retire.
Blondie still writes new music, and Harry still does solo work. She’s also continued her TV and film career. Some of her recent TV appearances include High Fidelity and Difficult People. She also starred in a music video for Nightmare, a song by the pop artist Halsey.
However, when she’s not on stage, she can often be found tending her garden.
Debbie Harry is Here to Stay
Debbie Harry’s cool-girl aesthetic lives on today. The Blondie frontwoman paved the way for future generations of female musicians and shaped rock music. She shows no signs of slowing down with her continued efforts to tour, make music, and create art. Hopefully, the blonde bombshell will keep inspiring audiences for years to come.
What’s your favorite Debbie Harry song? Tell us in the comments!