Allan Metz
Interview Exclusive

ABOUT THE BOOK

FIRST NEW BOOK ON DEBORAH HARRY AND BLONDIE IN OVER TWO DECADES

"Will I like this book?" asked Deborah Harry, the still sultry lead singer of Blondie, when recently presented with an advance copy. She definitely will, and so will you!

Blondie, From Punk to the Present: A Pictorial History is the first new book on Deborah Harry and Blondie in over two decades and, as such, constitutes an entertaining and informative resource of lasting value by encompassing the more general subject of popular culture. More than three years in the making, this unique and distinctive 8 1/2" x 11" softbound book contains 512 pages of articles, essays, and photographs. The book is available for purchase on Amazon.com and through Blondie.net, the official Blondie website.

Blondie took the music world by storm in the late '70s and early '80s, and the influence of this band and its lead singer Deborah Harry is still being felt today and increasingly recognized with the passage of time. Blondie reunited in the late 1990s and subsequently released the albums No Exit (1999) and The Curse of Blondie (2003 and 2004). And we all await with anticipation as to what Blondie holds in store for us in the future.

New York City-based Blondie was formed in 1974, honing its musical skills at the famous punk rock club, CBGBs, and eventually emerging on top of the new wave scene and then crossing over to the pop music mainstream. Their self-titled first album, Blondie, reflected a punk ethos and 1960s girl group sensibilities or, the Ramones meets the Ronettes, as one music critic opined. Blondie made six albums from 1976 to 1982, the most successful being Parallel Lines, considered by many music critics to be one of the best rock albums of all time. Within this time span, from the late seventies to the early eighties, Blondie constituted a major force on the rock/pop scene, producing a string of hit singles internationally. The most well-known of these singles are the reggae-inspired "The Tide Is High," the rap song "Rapture," and the disco-flavored "Heart of Glass" and "Call Me." More recently, in 1999, the single, "Maria," debuted at number one in the United Kingdom, making this song the sixth number one single for the group there. With this hit single, Blondie reached yet another milestone-the first band to have had a number one single in each of the last three decades in the United Kingdom. So Blondie continues to make music history and the band's legacy grows. The members of Blondie are true pioneers in every sense of the word.

This comprehensive compendium is more than the usual anthology since it contains essays from such well-known insiders as Chris Stein, Blondie's co-creator, and Victor Bockris, respected music journalist and critic.

The text is divided into chronological sections covering the early days of Blondie, punk rock and new wave music a quarter of a century ago, through Deborah Harry's solo career, the band's reunion, and into the new millennium.

In addition to the comprehensive text, the book is about one-fifth photographic content, and is divided into three sections covering the band's early years, Debbie's solo period, and the band's reunion.

The large photo sections present the fine work of such internationally acclaimed rock photographers and photo documentarians as Roberta Bayley, Bob Gruen, Stephanie Chernikowski, Marcia Resnick, Tina Paul, Mick Rock, Ebet Roberts, Joe Ryan, Pete Still, Mike Morton, Sylvie Ball, Teresa Hale, and many more.

The volume is rounded out by a series of selections in an Appendices section, an extensive Bibliography, and seven indexes.

Blondie, From Punk to the Present: A Pictorial History
Allan Metz, Compiler
Musical Legacy Publications
Number of pages: 512
Format: paperback only
List price: $35
ISBN: 1892477238

For more info check out the book's official site at http://www.blondiebook.com/

Q: Hi Allan. First of all thank you for producing such an extensive Blondie bible. There's so much in there too.

A: Thank you, and thanks to everyone who emailed in questions about the book and for expressing an interest in it.

Q: How long did it take to put together from start to finish?

A: About three-and-a-half years.

Q: When you started working on the book, were Blondie already reunited or was this something you'd planned before No Exit?

A: It's my understanding that Blondie had first considered reuniting around the mid-1990s and preparing for that up to No Exit. As a matter of fact, the reunion provided the incentive to embark on the book project along with an opportunity to document both Blondie's and Deborah Harry's lasting influence and contribution to the music world. Another major impetus for the book is that Blondie should be nominated and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame so that it can finally take its rightful place there.

Q: There's lots of contributions in Blondie, From Punk To The Present. How did you go about getting all the fans, photographers and Blondie people to help?

A: It definitely was a cooperative and collaborative effort. The Deborah Harry and Blondie Information Service (DHBIS) - http://members.cox.net/dhbis/index.shtml - proved to be an invaluable source both for contacts and identification of articles. Louis A Bustamante is the list owner along with the assistance of a number of volunteers who help maintain it. These leads were contacted and the response was very good. The photography contained in the book consists of pics taken by fans at various venues which otherwise would never have been documented along with photos from photo agencies and individual professional photographers, including the famous names listed on the book's front cover. For example, I spoke and/or maintained email correspondence with Mick Rock, Ebet Roberts, Stephanie Chernikowski, and Marcia Resnick, and many of these and other photographers contributed written selections and captions to accompany their responsive photographic work. Similarly, each and every written contributor had to be contacted individually. Victor Bockris also made a significant contribution through several written pieces and visual material. And, of course, Chris Stein graciously granted permission to adapt and reprint some written material for the Prologue and his thoughts on the passing of Joey Ramone. Barry L. Kramer (who, along with Louis, is a webmaster for the official Blondie site), Amy Oravec, who proofread the manuscript, and Robert Betts, who did the design and editing, all were instrumental in making the book a reality. (Fans also might be interested in knowing that Bob and Amy also produce the excellent fanzine, The Blondie Review - http://www.geocities.com/blondiereview/index.html

So easily over 100 people in varying capacities contributed to the project, and I'd like now to thank them all again!

Q: Have you got a favourite Blondie/Debbie Harry album and song that you could share with us?

A: Yes, the album which various sources have described as a classic rock album, Parallel Lines. And "Dreaming" is my favorite song. I like everything about it-Deb's vocals, Clem Burke's drumming, its opening, everything.

Q: I heard a rumour on the grapevine that quite a few music celebs have read your book on Blondie.... I'm always interested in gossip like this so care to name a few names?

A: Sure, I'll name some. All the members of Blondie and all the members of the Bangles. Nina Persson of the Cardigans, who also is a big Blondie and Debbie fan, has a copy of the book and hope to get confirmation that she's read it. Magnus Sveningsson, Cardigans' bassist, gave the book to Nina and looked it over himself. (Thanks Magnus!). Dusty Street, who worked with Rodney Bingenheimer in the early days of alternative radio station KROQ in Los Angeles and who also is depicted in a permanent radio exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is very enthusiastic about this book as is an associate producer for the A&E Biography special which aired last autumn in the UK. Also Nina Blackwood, one of the original MTV VJs, mentioned the book on her nationally syndicated radio program. The Go-Go's also might be aware of it. These are the names that come to mind at the moment.

Q: Have you got any new books in the pipeline and if so can you give us any details?

A: The timing of this question is excellent since it was just confirmed the other day that my "stirring" account/story of meeting Blondie and presenting each member with an advance copy of "Punk To the Present" will be published by Billboard Books in a forthcoming book entitled Tales from the Rock N Roll Highway edited by Marley Brant. The projected publication date is May 2004. A description of this book appears on Amazon.com.

And for current and future news and developments, please visit the Punk to the Present Yahoo Group:
http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/punktothepresent/

Q: Do you keep in touch with anyone from the band and if so what do they think of the book?

A: I understand that they all like the book and are very pleased with it. And so is Gary Valentine, Blondie's original bassist now residing in Great Britain.

Q: You have obviously spent some time studying a whole range of pics, from the beginning to the present, when compiling this book. Considering the artistic contribution Debbie and the band have made worldwide, do you have a favourite image/pic or episode in the Band's long history that you feel really sums up the essence of Blondie, and why?

A: Actually, all the photos collectively contained in the book serve this purpose. Ironically, two of my other favorite photos aren't even in the book. This was not be design, however, but rather because I either had not been aware of them at the time or didn't have enough information to trace their origin. This first pic linked below captures the essence, spirit, and frenzy of rock:
http://www2.drury.edu/ametz/samp.htm

The source, I recently learned, is Rex Features and the pic was reprinted in the book entitled New Wave Explosion: How Punk Became New Wave Became the 80's by Miles Palmer (London and New York: Proteus Books, 1981).

And the other photo is:
http://www.rockarchive.com/pages/preview.asp?colcode=BL001JF&colprint=fib9#

If it had been possible, I certainly would have at least attempted to also include them in the book.

Q: What do you feel is Blondie's greatest contribution to the music/music-art world?

A: Blondie and Deborah Harry helped pave the way for future acts which featured a female lead singer, and also for solo acts such as Madonna. Blondie's experimentation with various kinds of musical styles (whether it be rap, reggae, disco, etc.) also is a lasting contribution plus the fact that they were the most successful band to emerge from the New York City punk/new wave scene, taking the world by storm or, as MOJO magazine described Blondie in 1999, "The pop-art project that ate the world...twice".

Q: Why are there no colour pics in the book? Do you agree that colour pics would have given the book greater appeal?

A: The answer to the first question is due to the cost involved. To give a specific example, the cost of just 16 sheets of color photos (the equivalent of eight pages) alone would have added, at the time, an additional two dollars for each book produced, which would have been prohibitive. That said, I initially really had hoped to have some color pics so I agree with the second question.

Q: How would you view your book in general? Is it a point of reference book or an indepth read?

A: Either way, the book is of lasting value, which can be read and referred to many times over. Although this book could be read sequentially from cover to cover, the greatest reading enjoyment comes from referring to different parts of it as the reader so desires.

The best answer, however, can be summed up by an unsolicited commentary from a UK reader:

"By the way, I have a copy of your book and I would like to say what an excellent publication it is. Very interesting too. I have been a Debbie/Blondie fan for 25 years and there are so many pictures, interviews and facts that I wasn't aware of before until reading your book. I frequently pick it up off the bookshelf and dip into it and I'm always impressed by what I read. So congratulations on such a superb project. I know it can't have been easy to compile and get it to the printer, but your time and effort has certainly been appreciated by myself, and I'm sure lots of other Blondie devotees all over the planet!"

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