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In the Flesh: Blondie’s perfect pop performance on German TV, 1978

Most teenage males “of a certain vintage” were hipped to Blondie by the video for the single “Denis” with a slinky Debbie Harry in a red-striped swimsuit and cascades of backlit blonde hair. Understandable. My introduction was via the radio—which meant my focus has always been on the music. I bought the 45rpm record of “Denis.” Wore it out and had to buy another copy.

Of all the bands that came out of punk or new wave, for me there has never been one as brilliant as Blondie. New wave in the UK was generally angry and political. American new wave—as epitomized by Blondie—was musical, ingenious, subversive and unforgettable.

What makes a song last more than a generation is its infectious tunefulness. Songs that connect on an emotional level, at a liminal moment of approaching joy. Blondie have a major back catalog of these kind of songs—all of which will last decades longer than their three minutes of play. Perhaps centuries, who knows?

I missed out on their eponymous debut album, but got up to speed with the second album Plastic Letters and then Parallel Lines. With Parallel Lines one would have to go back to The Beatles to find a band that produced an album filled with only quality songs of utter pop perfection. All killer no filler, it played like a greatest hits from the very first spin.

That’s not to say Blondie were sweet—their songs were often double-edged and charged with complex meanings. A cursory listen to “One Way Or Another” might make you think it’s just some old romantic song rather one about a stalker. Or, how cold is the dreamy “Sunday Girl”? And who else could write such a bittersweet disco song such as “Heart of Glass”?

More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
New Wave: Debbie Harry wanted to remake Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Alphaville’ with Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp as Lemmy Caution and Debbie Harry as Natacha von Braun

I recently came across the following entry from an issue of Radio Times dating from April 1979, describing an upcoming edition of a BBC 1 radio show called “Roundtable”:

Debbie Harry joins Kid Jensen to review the week’s new records.

Ultra blonde, ultra bombshell Debbie Harry is turning her thoughts to the big screen. She is thinking of starring with Robert Fripp (who used to be in King Crimson) in a remake of Alphaville, a 1966 film by Jean-Luc Godard. Blondie are recording their fourth album, tentatively called Eat the Beat.

Wait, what? Debbie Harry and Robert Fripp, to appear in a remake of Godard’s Alphaville??

It’s all true.

If you want the TL;DR version of this post, it goes like this: Around 1979 Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were interested in remaking Jean-Luc Godard’s futuristic 1966 movie Alphaville. Amos Poe was going to direct it, and there are images from a screen test that featured Harry and Fripp in character, images that were leaked to the press at the time.

The rest of this post is basically just regurgitating the little scraps of evidence I was able to cull together from scouring Google for information, all of which is still pretty interesting and corroborates that last paragraph.

Anna Karina and Eddie Constantine in Godard’s Alphaville
Amos Poe was going to direct the movie. He was part of the NYC underground filmmaking scene in the 1970s, having directed, with Ivan Kral, The Blank Generation as well as a 1978 feature starring Debbie Harry called The Foreigner. Poe was also involved with Chris Stein’s legendary public-access show TV Party.

On the obsessive King Crimson fan site DGM Live there appears a puzzling entry in “Robert Fripp’s Diary” for the date January 8, 2000. It’s puzzling in that it’s ostensibly something that Fripp wrote but he lapses into a kind of Variety promotional-speak that includes a sarcastic, unflattering reference about Fripp himself. Wait, here, just read it:

Several Blockbuster videos are waiting for return. One of them is “Dead Weekend”, chosen as an accompaniment to brain-death & psyche-dribbling earlier this week. Several surprises accompanied its opening credits. Co-producer Amos Poe. Story by Amos Poe. Directed by Amos Poe. Co-starring (with Stephen Baldwin) David Rasche.

In 1978 Amos Poe was to direct the remake of Godard’s “Alphaville” starring Debbie Harry as Natasha von Braun, Anna Karina (?) in the original film. The detective Lemmy Caution was originally played by Eddie Constantine. For the remake, Debbie’s co-star was to be—yo! wait for this one—an English guitarist almost universally disliked by his former band-buddies. The film was never made, but the stills from his screen-test were fabbo to the max. One of them even appeared on the front page of Melody Maker in December 1978.

If that isn’t enough of Fripp’s NY history to bore you senseless, wait about.

David Rasche is a superb actor whose break came in a Broadway play “Shadowbox” around 1977/8. He played “Sledgehammer” in the cod tv-policier series, and showed up in various films such as “Cobra” (he dies quickly & unpleasantly) & “An Innocent Man” (with Tom Selleck) as the bent cop who frames Tom & sent down F. Murray Abram (?). David & I were both in a Transactional Analysis group in NYC during 1977. A very good man, and one who holds my respect.

With this card, six degrees can now carry me anywhere in the world at all.

If it really was written in 2000 by Fripp, then at a minimum we can say that he’s got a wicked sense of humor, no? Apparently he takes his reputation as being “almost universally disliked by his former band-buddies” at least somewhat in stride…..

[Update: A commenter on Facebook points out that DGM is the label Fripp and others founded in 1992, which certainly suggests that the diary entry is kosher.]

Fripp points out that a still from a screen test involving the two co-stars appeared on the cover of Melody Maker in 1978, and that’s perfectly true. The date was December 23, 1978, and the cover looked like this:

Victor Bockris’ book With William Burroughs: A Report from the Bunker contains the following story:

Debbie recalled that when she and Chris met Goddard [sic] to discuss remaking Alphaville he had pretended that he could not speak English and said through an interpreter, “Why do you want to do this movie? You’re crazy!”

So apparently Godard tried to persuade them not to make the movie. I’m guessing it wasn’t his influence that caused the movie not to be made.

In Lester Bangs’ 1980 book Blondie (yes, Bangs wrote a book all about Blondie) we fnd this tidbit: “When Debbie and Chris were on WPIX’s ‘Radio, Radio’ show in Manhattan (in Feb. 1980), a fan phoned in to ask, ‘Is Alphaville complete?’” Thus proving that more or less regular people were following the Alphaville story and wanted updates.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Baby-faced Robert Smith and the Cure’s first time in America, 1980

In Spring of 1980, just as Robert Smith was about to turn 21 years old, the Cure, supporting their sophomore release Seventeen Seconds (and new single “A Forest”) made their first trip to America. They played six dates, including three in NYC at the Hurrah’s nightclub, where Chris Stein and Debbie Harry turned up to meet them.

From the now quite pricey and rare 1988 Cure bio Ten Imaginary Years:

On 10 April, The Cure went to America for the first time.

Robert: “We’d obtained cult status out there but we only played New York, Philly, Washington and Boston. We played three nights - 15, 16 and 17th - at Hurrah in New York and it was packed.”

Simon: “It was done on a shoestring budget but it was lots of fun. Instead of having cans of beer backstage, we’d have shots of Southern Comfort!”

Robert: “It was like a holiday. Even at this point, everything we did, we didn’t think we’d be doing again so we used to go to bed at about five in the morning and get up again at eight just to go out and see New York.”

On his return, Robert told Record Mirror how America meant “being bombarded by people who all ask the same questions and all want to shake your hand . . . you just find yourself getting sucked into the whole rock ‘n’ roll trip which we’re trying so hard to get away from” while Sounds’ Phil Sutcliffe, who’d accompanied the band to New York. told, in an article “Somebody Get Me A Doctor,” how Robert had done his utmost to avoid having his picture taken with Debbie Harry.

Although these two videos from one of the nights at Hurrah’s were posted by the creators, Charles Libin & Paul Cameron, ASC, a few years back, they’ve had precious few plays. If only all shot from the audience videos of the punk/post-punk and new wave era were done this well.

“A Forest” was the set closer, while “Secrets” was the first encore, played next.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Post-punk funk: Debbie Harry and James White & The Blacks cover Chic and James Brown, 1980

Okay, so it’s Monday… That’s bad enough already, but it’s also a Monday in January and much of the eastern part of the US of A is totally blanketed in snow and freezing cold, so maybe you had to brave the elements to get to work, or maybe it’s a winter wonderland “snow day” for you and you’re sitting at home. Either way, I can’t help but to think, no matter your circumstances right now, this very moment as you are reading this, that your life will be improved by these recently posted video clips of Blondie’s Debbie Harry guesting onstage with James White and the Blacks at the Hurrah’s nightclub in New York City in 1980.

First up, Debbie and James duet on a cover version of Chic’s “Good Times.” For the first few minutes of this, I wasn’t really feeling it, although admittedly I got so lost just looking at Debbie Harry’s face that I could have been listening to a jackhammer. Eventually the groove kicks in and then… I felt good. James White squeezes off an outrageously skronky sax solo here.

The James Brown cover after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
There’s awesome, and then there’s MUPPET BLONDIE awesome
09:17 am


Debbie Harry

Now that most of the cryassing about how “IT’S NOT WHAT I’M UUUUUUSED TOOOOOO FROM WHEN I WAS A KIIIIIIIIIIIID” has abated, it’s nice to see that the rebooted Muppets is being generally well received. Updating The Muppet Show from the variety show format to a hodgepodge of tropes from Larry Sanders, The Office and 30 Rock was a smart contemporizing move that gave the show ample satirical fodder, and shifting the setting from Vaudeville theatre—charming as all hell though that was!—to late-nite talk allowed the preservation of the rotating guest star format that mirrors the original show and keeps it lively. It’s not as holy-shit great as its ‘70s predecessor, it’s true, but it’s sharp, it’s funny, it’s exploring different themes, and it’s got time and room to grow.

And I hope to hell that sooner than later it has moments as holy-shit great as its predecessor’s Episode 509, from February of 1981, guest starring Blondie singer Debbie Harry. It was an amazing episode for numerous reasons—Debbie Harry’s intrinsic awesomeness being one of them, naturally. But I find it interesting that The Muppet Show’s representation of punk took the form’s aesthetic merit as a given, keeping clichéd rainbow hair and safety-pin jokes to a minimum. It might be hard to explain how completely radical that was at the time. Punk representation in media was typically dumb and cartoonish, depicting musicians as simplistically violent oafs before 1980 (think WKRP’s insane 4th episode “Hoodlum Rock” in 1978), and after 1980, well, the preachy and unintentionally hilarious Quincy, M.E. punk episode’s depiction of hardcore kids so impossibly nihilistic they’re utterly indifferent to the death (by slam pit ice pick!) of one of their own friends pretty well sums it up. That kind of crap was FAR more typical than forthrightly showing punks as artists pursuing a music.


Of course, by 1981, Blondie had become one of punk’s most mainstream expressions—it’s not like the family-hour Muppet Show was going to have Killing Joke on or anything—but that does nothing to diminish the wonderful segment showing Harry helping the young members of a scout troop get their punk merit badges by teaching them to pogo. The entire episode is on the Best Of The Muppet Show Vol. 9 (there’s no season 5 complete collection yet, for some reason), or you can watch it at this link.

And surprise surprise, where the episode really shines in is the musical numbers. Harry’s duet with Kermit the Frog on “Rainbow Connection” has been enduringly popular, but the episode’s two Blondie songs are pretty wonderful, too. “One Way or Another,” by then almost a three-year-old tune, had Harry backed up by a Muppet band that, rather than exemplifying the kind of goofy tropes that normals would recognize as “punk,” look credibly like an actual downtown NYC band of the era. I’m guessing they were modeled after Tuff Darts, but I could be wrong.

The episode ended with a Muppetization of Blondie’s year-old single “Call Me,” the theme song from a movie about a male prostitute framed for murdering a client whose husband hired him to “entertain” her. That may seem odd for family-hour until you consider that Blondie’s current single at the time was “Rapture,” a six-plus minute, half-cooed, half-rapped song that might contain a barely concealed reference to finger fucking (available printed lyrics read “finger popping” but we weren’t idiots) and definitely contains the line “he shoots you dead and he eats your head.” Which would have TOTALLY RULED performed by Muppets, but he upbeat “Call Me” was clearly the safer choice.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Christmas is saved by this Blondie ‘X-mas Offender’ sweatshirt

Debbie Harry/Blondie
Blondie “X-mas Offender” Christmas sweatshirt
How this amazing piece of Christmas adornment slipped past my radar until now is beyond me but, here it is—an officially licensed Blondie “X-mas Offender” sweatshirt. Squeee! Christmas is saved!

The sweatshirt takes its name from the first single that Blondie ever released in 1976, “X-Offender.” Originally the song was dubbed “Sex Offender” by Blondie bassist, Gary Valentine who co-wrote the song with Debbie Harry. The band’s label at the time, Private Stock put Blondie on blast and made them change the name to “X-Offender.” Usually when suit-types tell the cool kids what to do, it really gets under my skin. But in this case I’m completely okay with it as we now has this super cool sweatshirt to wear that won’t cause people to call the cops on you while you’re out picking up extra Eggnog at midnight at 7-11.

The sweatshirt retails for $25.99 and while it appears that even expedited shipping methods won’t get it to you (if you’re in the U.S.) in time for Christmas, I’m sure quite a few of you will still be picking one up anyway. I know I will.  Get it here.

The ageless Debbie Harry performing John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ““Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” with the Middlechurch East Village Gospel Choir, 2008.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Cover versions: Debbie Harry stars in pulp romance novels based on Blondie songs

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
I’m with the Band(s): Intimate photographs of punk legends at CBGBs

Whether it’s the Left Bank, or Bloomsbury, or Sun Records in Memphis, the Cavern Club in Liverpool, or London’s King’s Road, there is always one location that becomes the focus for a new generation of artists, writers and musicians. In New York during the 1970s, this creative hub could be found in a venue called CBGBs where different bands came to play every night spearheading the punk and new wave movement and bringing about a small revolution which changed everything in its wake.

Amongst the musicians, writers and artists who played and hung out at Hilly Kristal’s club at 315 Bowery were conceptual artists Bettie Ringma and Marc H. Miller. Bettie had come from from Holland to the US, where she met Miller—a writer and photographer whose passion was for telling “stories with pictures, with ephemera and with a few carefully chosen words.” Together they started collaborating on various multi-media and conceptual artworks.

In late 1976, Marc and Bettie were drawn to the irresistible pull of creative energy buzzing out of CBGB’s. Most nights they went down to the venue and started documenting the bands and artists who appeared there:

Our first photograph of Bettie with the movers and shakers at CBGB was taken during our very first visit to the club in late 1976. Standing alone by the bar was one of Bettie’s favorite performers, the poet-rocker Patti Smith. At home at CBGB and a wee bit tipsy, Patti was more than happy to oblige our request for a picture with Bettie. Soon we were CBGB regulars, checking out the different bands and slowly adding to our collection of pictures.

Marc and Bettie’s original idea of creating “Paparazzi Self-Portraits” at this Bowery bar developed into the portfolio Bettie Visits CBGB—a documentary record of all the bands, musicians, artists and writers who hung out at the venue, with photographs becoming:

...a reflection of the new aesthetic emerging at CBGB, a contradictory mix of high and low culture energized by fun and humor, the lure of fame and fortune, and a cynical appreciation of the power of a good hype.

More of Marc and Bettie’s work from this punk era can be seen here.

Patti Smith was hanging around at the bar, but no one was taking pictures of her because she was super-shy. She posed with me and then just went away: some musicians are like that, they’re not into socialising. They’re just artists.


Debbie Harry is a really great singer. She had a very different style from what was emerging there at that time. She was not shy, but she was very aloof: you can see that in the picture, hiding half her face behind her hair. It wasn’t something she needed, because she was very pretty, she was the frontwoman. But it gave her safety.


I just love the Ramones. When their music starts I can’t sit still, I just have to start hopping and dancing, and I’m 71 now. We saw them live about 10 times: we would go out of our way to see them perform.

More of Marc and Bettie’s work after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Cover versions: Debbie Harry stars in pulp romance novels based on Blondie songs
10:08 am


Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry faux pulp novel
“Rip Her to Shreds” faux pulp romance novel cover. Title taken from a song found on Blondie’s eponymous 1976 debut album

These clever faux pulp romance novels featuring Debbie Harry by Atlanta-based pop artist, Zteven are pretty much the best things I’ve seen this week. And I see a lot of cool stuff on a daily basis.

Not only did Zteven manage to portray Harry as one of the coolest salacious sirens to ever grace the cover of a smutty, old school pulp romance novel, he also incorporated the lyrics of songs from Blondie’s catalog in the titles and descriptions. There are even a few sly nods to Blondie co-founder and guitarist Chris Stein, as well as songwriter and producer Mike Chapman who worked with the group on their breakthrough 1978 record, Parallel Lines as well as Eat to the Beat (1979), Autoamerican (1980) and The Hunter (1982). The set of four prints, framed, will run you $40.
One Way or Another faux pulp novel with Debbie Harry
“One Way or Another” faux pulp romance novel cover. Title taken from a song that appears on 1978’s Parallel Lines
More Blondie cover versions after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Hear Debbie Harry perform a voodoo rite: ‘Invocation to Papa Legba’
08:35 am


Chris Stein
Deborah Harry

It looks like Vodun had more devotees in the CBGB set than I would have guessed, because I would have guessed zero. Yet Talking Heads paid tribute to “Papa Legba” in their True Stories, and Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie recorded this “Invocation to Papa Legba” for a 1989 compilation on Giorno Poetry Systems. It’s just Harry’s voice with Stein’s approximation of Haitian drumming, and it sounds fantastic—maybe a distant, merrier cousin of Peter Hammill’s “A Motorbike in Afrika.”

I eagerly await learning about Genesis Breyer P-Orridge’s researches into Vodun when Bight of the Twin comes out, because I am ham ignorant about this religion. Papa Legba is, I take it, the gatekeeper of the spirit world, and all attempts to communicate with the loa begin with prayers and offerings to him. Maybe, if you play this loud and often enough, he’ll pay you a visit tonight.

via Zero Equals Two

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Blondie burning down the house live on German TV, 1978
10:18 am


Debbie Harry
Chris Stein

The first time I saw Blondie was on an episode of chart music show Top of the Pops sometime in February 1977, when they performed “Denis”—a cover of the old Randy & the Rainbows’ number “Denise.” The promo footage caught fire from its opening shot of a beautifully backlit Debbie Harry flicking her golden candy floss hair, dancing in oversized jacket and red striped swimsuit. Chris Stein wore a black shirt and what looked like a leather tie, and the rest of the band seemed confidently cool playing in the background. It was one of those epiphanic moments that hold fast in the memory, like seeing Alice Cooper sword fence a camera during a performance of “School’s Out,” or David Bowie put his arm around Mick Ronson during “Starman,” or the Sex Pistols blankly performing “Pretty Vacant” (“no shocks shock” ran a headline in the NME.)

TOTP was the main outlet for most British teenagers during the 1970s to watch bands they liked or discover someone new—most youth music shows didn’t really kick off until later in the decade. Much of TOTP‘s 30-minute running time was clogged with middle of the road bands, novelty acts and the kind of songs your granny liked to hum—like ones sung by Johnny Mathis or Brian and Michael, the latter duo unbelievably kept Blondie’s “Denis” off the UK top spot.
Unlike a number of bands at the time who were either dreary and lumpen or overly earnest, Blondie made music that was enjoyable, clever, infectiously upbeat and un-fucking-believably exciting. Here’s Blondie setting fire to the studio and burning down the house. Record date: Sometime in 1977. Transmission date January 19th 1978. And that, ahem, is a loooong time ago…. which just goes to show how very, very good Blondie were live and the utter brilliance and durability of their songs.

Track Listing.

01. “X-Offender”
02. “Little Girl Lies”
03. “Look Good in Blue”
04. “Man Overboard”
06. “In the Flesh”
06.  “I’m on E”
07. “Love at the Pier”
08. “I Didn’t have the Nerve”
09. “Bermuda Triangle Blues (Flight 45)’
10. “ Kidnapper”
11. “Youth Nabbed As Sniper”

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Debbie Harry: The Hippie Years
11:48 am


Deborah Harry

In the June 1977 issue of High Times, interviewer Neal Barlowe asked Chris Stein and Deborah Harry about earlier musical experiences, and the following exchange occurred:

Neal: Were you in bands before?
Chris: Debbie recorded an album for Capitol with a baroque folkie rock band in ‘68. It was called the Wind in the Willows.
Neal: Easy listening?
Debbie: Depressing listening.

Seldom has an eyeroll so successfully been conveyed indirectly via typewritten prose.

And Debbie, don’t be so hard on yourself! In 1977 you were probably right to scornful of some hippy-dippy stuff you were involved with just 9 years earlier. But now from the vantage point of 47 years after the fact (!) the album seems perfectly harmless and fun. You’re right, though, it wasn’t great.

The band was named after the classic book by Kenneth Grahame. The fifth track of the album is called “There Is But One Truth Daddy” and is a reading from Grahame’s book set to music. The fourth track is a cover of Roger Miller’s “My Uncle Used to Love Me but She Died.”

According to this website ... it gets the dates all wrong but what it’s probably saying is that Wind in the Willows played Café Au Go Go with the Nazz on Sept. 13-14, 1968. The YouTube page linked below refers to an album release party at Café Au Go Go and has the date as Sept. 11—whatever the details, clearly something of the sort happened at that venue that week.

You can buy the album here.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Blondie bombshell Debbie Harry’s awkwardly awesome late-night disco-diatribe against nuclear power
08:16 am


Debbie Harry
no nukes

Debbie Harry, fronting Blondie, on The Midnight Special—October 5, 1979
Noted for its live, rather than lip-synced, performances, The Midnight Special was a late-night musical variety show, airing on NBC between 1973-1981. The show tended to feature up-and-coming acts, and an appearance on The Midnight Special was generally a sign that a band had finally “made it.” With only three major television networks at the time, even at its late hour, an appearance on The Midnight Special guaranteed a large, hip, young audience. For those born later than the 1970s, it must be understood that The Midnight Special was a very big deal. To fuck with the conventions of The Midnight Special was a very, very big deal.

On October 5, 1979, Blondie made their second appearance on The Midnight Special. They had appeared earlier in January of that same year performing live versions of “One Way or Another,”  “Hanging on the Telephone,”  and “Sunday Girl.” On their October 5th appearance, the band performed “Dreaming,”  “Slow Motion,”  “The Hardest Part,”  “Accidents Never Happen,”  and “Heart of Glass.”

Debbie Harry and drummer Clem Burke on the Midnight Special stage.
For their second Midnight Special appearance, Blondie lead singer, Debbie Harry, draped in a simultaneously stunning and ridiculous (backwards?) blue romper, exudes a mesmerizing, other-worldly, “don’t give a shit” sex appeal. Her demeanor is confidently aloof, yet at times straight-up dorky, but what she does at 2:20 into “Heart of Glass” is one of the most awkwardly cool things that ever happened on network television. It’s as bizarre as it is on point. The band goes into the instrumental break of the song, and Debbie launches into a brief diatribe on nuclear power:

The use of nuclear power is merely a symptom of our troubled times. It is time for all Americans to take control of their own lives and stop being pushed around and poisoned. The race for nuclear superiority can only end with the destruction of civilization.

...And then she goes straight back into the ditty. She gives a split second look right after, that seems to indicate “I just did something really cool on this dumb TV stage.” The audience eats it up, and you can audibly hear their reaction over the music. This was the same year as the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, so her rant is especially timely.

Geez, Debbie, as if we needed one more reason to love you.

Here’s the entire song; the “nuclear power” riff is at 2:20:


Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Forget that shitty ‘CBGB’ film, ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ from 1978 takes you inside the real CBGB

Three aspiring musicians: Richard Hell, Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd were looking for a place “where nothing was happening” for their band Television to play. If nothing was happening then the bar owner had nothing to lose. One day, down in the Bowery, Verlaine and Lloyd spotted a place initialed CBGB-OMFUG. They sidled across, went inside and talked to the owner a former singer and musician Hilly Krystal. As Lloyd recalled in Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s essential oral history of punk Please Kill Me, Hilly wanted to know what kinda music they played. They answered with a question:

‘Well, what does ‘CBGB-OMFUG’ stand for?’

He said, ‘Country, Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gourmandizers.’

So we said, ‘Oh yeah, we play a little of that, a little rock, a little country, a little blues, a little bluegrass…’

And Hilly said, ‘Oh, okay, maybe…’

In fact, the only real stipulation for appearing at CBGB’s was to play new music, and although Suicide and Wayne County had already appeared at CBGB’s (after the demise of the Mercer Arts Center), it was not until Television, Patti Smith, The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads and The Dead Boys started taking up residency that CBGB’s changed from something where nothing happened to somewhere it all happened.

If you were disappointed by the shitty CBGB’s movie made a couple of years back starring Alan Rickman, then you will get a better sense of the energy, talent and musical revolution that took place at CBGB’s in the mid-1970s with this hour-long TV documentary Blitzkrieg Bop . Focussing on The Ramones, Blondie and the The Dead Boys, Blitzkrieg Bop mixes live performance with short interview clips and a racy newscast voiceover. It’s recommended viewing.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Sugar skulls of the dead: Dia de los Muertos portraits of Blondie, the Ramones, Lemmy and more
11:51 am


Joey Ramone

Blondie Parallel Lines Sugar Skull art by Ganbatte
Blondie Parallel Lines sugar skull album cover
Leisha Ganbatte is an illustrator and graphic designer based in Barcelona, Spain who enjoys creating sugar skull versions of punks like Blondie and the Ramones. Ganbatte’s designs appear on everything from posters to pillows and she’s even got a line of cat inspired stickers that feature images of Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie as Aladdin Sane. Ganbatte’s latest subject is the one and only Morrissey whose image she has emblazoned on a line of stickers along with lyrics from the Moz’s solo catalog. Swoon! Prices vary from item to item. Examples of the ridiculously cool stuff that is available in Ganbatte’s Etsy store follow.
Ramones by Ganbatte
Joey Ramone sugar skull by Ganbatte
Joey Ramone
Dee Dee Ramone sugar skull by Ganbatte
Dee Dee Ramone
Buddy Holly sugar skull by Ganbatte
Buddy Holly
Lemmy cat sticker by Ganbatte
Lemmy cat sticker
Aladdin Sane cat sticker by Ganbatte
Aladdin Sane cat sticker
Morrissey stickers by Ganbatte
Morrissey stickers
Joey Ramone pillow
Joey Ramone pillow
Dee Dee Ramone pillow by Ganbatte
Dee Dee Ramone pillow

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground’: The best book yet on the dawn of punk rock

Early band shot of Blondie

In the now long line of endless punk rock history cash-in books being pumped out from every corner of the world it’s shocking to find the one book that’s not like the others. Paul Zone’s Playground: Growing Up in the New York Underground published by Glitterati Inc. is a coffee table book brimming with amazing, unseen photos and the life story of Paul and his brothers Miki Zone and Mandy Zone and their bands The Fast and later, Man 2 Man. What makes this book different is its author and the time frame it takes place in.

There was a short moment when everything was happening at once, no one knew or cared and the only band that had an audience or a record deal was the New York Dolls. As early as 1974 Patti Smith was playing, as was Television, Wayne County, Suicide and Blondie. The Ramones were starting to play at CBGB (opening for a drag show that starred Tomata du Plenty later of Screamers fame), KISS was pretty much in this same scene playing to about five people with many bands like The Planets And Paul’s brothers The Fast were playing alongside of them. At one point, sub-culturally speaking, all the cards were thrown up in the air and no one knew where they were going to land. It was a very small group of friends almost all of whom would, in a few short years, become icons of pop culture,
Johnny Thunders, early 70’s

At the time, Paul Zone was very young. Too young to be in a band, but not too young to see a band or be snuck into the back room at Max’s Kansas City. And not too young to document this exciting time in his life by photographing everything. There are very few photos of this period when punk rock was actually occurring in the midst of the glitter rock scene. When the up and down escalators of rock ‘n’ roll infinity met and EVERYONE was hungry on the way up AND on the way down. There was change in the air, excitement and confusion.

Seeing Alan Vega of Suicide performing in a loft in 1973 with a huge blonde wig and a gold painted face is unbelievable. The years the photos in the book span are 1971 to 1978. Most are snapshots of friends hanging out when everyone was still on the starting line. The Fast were one of the more popular of these bands who let their new friends Blondie and The Ramones open for them in small New York clubs.

Early photos of The Fast show them amazingly in full glitter regalia with KISS-like make up (Miki Zone has a heart painted over one eye, etc.) but this was before KISS! There are a few photos of icons of the time like Alice Cooper (watching cartoons in his hotel room), Marc Bolan, The Stooges, etc. (a good one of KISS with about three people in the audience, as mentioned above). Most are of friends just hanging out, having a ball, not knowing or caring about the future and without that dividing line in music history called “punk rock.” It is truly a treasure to see something this rare, and even better, 99% of these photos have never been seen before.
Wayne County long before becoming Jayne County

By 1976 Paul Zone was old enough to join his brothers and became the lead singer of the version of The Fast that made records. Sadly due to poor management decisions The Fast got left behind that first punk wave and watched as almost all of their buddies become some of the most famous faces in music history. How amazing that all of these people were friends just hanging out, broke and creative going to see each other play, talking shit and influencing each other in ways they didn’t even realize?
Joey Ramone eating dessert at Paul Zone’s parents house at 5 am

Linda Ramone, future design icon Anna Sui, Nick Berlin and me, Howie Pyro (The Blessed) at Coney Island 1978

After a few years of struggling, The Fast trimmed down to just brothers Miki and Paul Zone and some early electronic equipment. They finally let go of the name The Fast and became Man to Man, one of the first Hi-NRG electro dance music groups, recording with the likes of Bobby Orlando and Man Parrish. They had huge hits worldwide and here in dance clubs like “Male Stripper” and “Energy Is Eurobeat,”
Suicide’s Alan Vega, early 70’s

This book is three quarters a photo book and one quarter autobiography, cutting to the point and perfect for this modern, short attention span world. It is packed with so much amazing first hand information in such a short amount of text that no one will be disappointed. Playground was co-written by Jake Austen of Roctober Magazine, with a foreword by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie. The book is available here
If you are in the Los Angeles area this Saturday, June 28th, there will be a book release party and photo exhibit (with many of these photos printed HUGE) at Lethal Amounts Gallery at 8 pm.

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