One of the most successful groups on the UK chart in the late-70s/early-80s were Blondie. They had many chart-topping singles, and most of them define their era. I decided that because their story is still so well-known it wasn’t really worth doing a piece looking back at their highlights. But the solo career of frontwoman Debbie Harry maybe hasn’t been reflected on so much by comparison.
Debbie’s first solo single was released in August 1981, when Blondie were actually still together, and “Backfired” reached no. 32. This is another great song that featured the involvement of Nile Rodgers, although just about all of them have been great really. There was also a cover of this on one of those “Top Of The Pops” albums, a true sign that you’d made it in those days.
It would be five years until Debbie’s next solo hit, and by this point Blondie really had come to an end (for a while anyway). In November 1986 “French Kissin’ In The USA” was released, and reached no. 8, to become her first and only Top Ten hit single on her own in the UK. The majority of the follow-up singles didn’t manage anywhere near the success of this one though.
Next in February 1987 was “Free To Fall”, followed in May 1987 by “In Love With Love”, and both of these failed to make the Top 50. In October 1989 “I Want That Man” reached no. 13. About a decade on from this, there was suddenly a new wave of interest and airplay, because of the lyric “here comes the 21st century“, as people anticipated “the millennium” and all that.
I am not sure if there were any plans to re-release the original version or a remix, but this definitely seemed to be around a lot at that so exciting time. Then in December 1989, “Brite Side” reached no. 59. Going into the 90s, In March 1990 “Sweet And Low” reached no. 57. Next in January 1991 was “Well Did You Evah!”, which was a duet with Iggy Pop and reached no. 42.
In July 1993 “I Can See Clearly” reached no. 23 to become Debbie’s final Top 40 solo hit single in the UK. And finally in September 1993 “Strike Me Pink” reached no. 46. Debbie’s career had rather disappointingly reached “the dumper” levels. But by the late-90s, there were plenty of rumours that maybe it was finally time to put the old group back together, were Blondie really going to reform, after 15 years apart?
Well it turned out that this would be a gamble that paid off spectacularly, when in 1999, “Maria”, which was their first new single since the early-80s, became their sixth chart-topper in the UK, and their first since 1980. Debbie also joined a very elite group of women who have featured on a UK chart-topping single after their 50th birthday. They are still going, and have long since been celebrated as one of the most successful American groups.