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Blondie headed to Penn's Peak

  • Blondie will perform at Penn's Peak on Wednesday, Sept. 1.
    Blondie will perform at Penn's Peak on Wednesday, Sept. 1.
Published August 26. 2010 05:00PM

Blondie, a mainstay of the new wave music scene of the late 1970's that made it big on the pop charts, has survived beyond most of the bands from that movement.

The band fronted by singer Debbie Harry has been active in its latest phase since reforming in 1997 and is set to release a new album later this year, with the title "Panic of Girls."

Blondie, which was formed in the mid-70's by Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, cut its teeth in the New York City scene that saw it perform at clubs like CBGB's and Max's Kansas City that spawned punk and new wave bands such as The Ramones, Talking Heads and The B-52s.

The B-52s made a visit to Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe this summer, and now it's Blondie's turn, as its current tour hits The Peak on Wednesday, Sept. 1. Opening the show that evening will be Gorevette.

Harry had been a waitress, a former Playboy Bunny, and a member of a folk band and girl group before joining with Stein, drummer Clem Burke, keyboard player Jimmy Destri and bassist Gary Valentine in Blondie.

The members reportedly decided to name the band after the shouts and whistles Harry received from passers-by, who would yell things like "Hey, blondie."

Blondie's mix of girl group pop with aggressive, new wave rock and roll was evident on its first, self-titled album, released on Private Stock Records in 1976.

While not attracting Billboard chart attention in the U.S., "Blondie" received notice overseas in places like England and Australia, thanks to songs such as "X-Offender," "In the Flesh," and "Rip Her to Shreds" at a time when the U.K. was in the midst of a punk rock movement.

Valentine left the band, which eventually signed with Chrysalis Records. Blondie's second album, "Plastic Letters", emerged in 1997 and hit #78 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Charts. While no singles from the sophomore effort charted in the U.S., Blondie's cover of Randy and The Rainbows' "Denis" (minus the 'e') was a U.K. smash.

The band added Nigel Harrison on bass and Frank Infante on guitar and made its major U.S. breakthrough with "Parallel Lines" in 1978. The album hit number six on the Billboard Top 200 and included Blondie's first U.S. chart-topper, the disco-flavored "Heart of Glass."

"Parallel Lines" also included "One Way or Another" (which reached #24 on the Billboard Hot 100) and pair of U.K. hits, "Hanging on the Telephone" and "Sunday Girl."

"Eat to the Beat", which came out in 1979, reached #17 and included a pair of top 40 hits with the power-pop of "Dreaming" (#27) and more disco with "Atomic" (#39).

Blondie's biggest hit came in 1980 when the Giorgio Moroder-produced "Call Me" from the Richard Gere film "American Gigolo" topped the chart and was selected as Billboard's single of the year.

Blondie continued to delve into different musical styles, and the result was two more number one singles, from the 1980 album "Autoamerican" (#7 Top 200).

A reggae-styled cover of The Paragons' "The Tide is High" hit the top of the Hot 100, as did "Rapture", which included Harry's rapping her way through the midsection.

Two years later, "The Hunter" didn't follow the massive success of "Autoamerican", although it did peak at #33 and included the Top 40 hit "Island of Lost Souls."

That year, Stein took ill with a life-threatening genetic disease, and Blondie went on hiatus. Harry, who was romantically involved with Stein at the time, worked to bring him back to health as well as pursuing a solo career, both in music and as an actress.

As time went by, the band members went their own ways and got involved with other projects: Burke was the drummer for Eurythmics for a time. Harry was involved with the Jazz Passengers in the 1990's before Blondie reunited her with Stein, Burke and Destri.

In 1999, the reformed Blondie recorded "No Exit", which peaked at #18 on the Billboard Top 200 and included "Maria", which was a world-wide hit. The follow-up album, "The Curse of Blondie", came out in 2003.

Blondie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, and is now geared to release its ninth studio album.

The current touring version of Blondie includes Harry, Stein and Burke. Destri has retired from the road but reportedly still works with the band in the studio. Also in the band are keyboardist Matt Katz-Bohen, bassist Leigh Foxx and guitarist Tommy Kessler, who has replaced Paul Carbonara, who had been with the band since it reformed in 1997.

Blondie with Gorevette will perform at Penn's Peak on Wednesday, Sept. 1. Doors open at 6 p.m. with showtime at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 for the Pit (standing room only) and $40 for reserved seating. Tickets are available online at, at Ticketmaster outlets, including Boscov's and Gallery of Sound, at the Penn's Peak Box Office and Roadies Restaurant. Call 1-866-605-PEAK for information.

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