Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Deborah Harry (born July 1, 1945) is a Miami-born American rock and roll musician who originally gained fame as the frontwoman for New Wave band Blondie, which originated in the mid 1970s and achieved commercial success in the 80s. She was a regular at CBGB's, a famous New York City club that was an early epicenter for punk rock. Although Blondie could rock as hard as any of the punk rock bands of that era, it became the epitome of the New Wave style, and Debbie Harry, with her two-tone bottle-blonde hair, became its best known icon. Launching just on the cusp of MTV, Debbie Harry and Blondie put out some of the first rock music videos, in some cases inventing some of the cliches of the form.
Her strong stage personality of cool sexuality and street wise style became so closely associated with Blondie, the band, that it was hard for some to tell the two apart, to her lasting chagrin. This is unfortunate because Blondie, the band, laid down a rich legacy of experimental tracks, situationist lyrics and DIY weirdness which makes them interesting as a musical group, and to have this overshadowed because of the focus on Debbie Harry's image misses the point of their accomplishments.
Among her notable vocals was the rap on Rapture, the first white rap song, and Heart of Glass, a New-Wave/Disco crossover. The first blending of Rock with Dance music. Debbie Harry fans would probably list her Yoko Onoesque screams on Victor and such classics as Atomic, Call Me, The Tide Is High, and One Way or Another as other outstanding tracks featuring her voice.
In 1981 (see 1981 in music), Harry began a solo career, but then entered a temporary retirement (1983-1985) to nurse Blondie's guitarist, Chris Stein, back to health. She succeeded and returned as a musician and actress.
Some of her notable film roles were Videodrome (1983), and John Waters' Hairspray (1988), where she played the big-haired and villanous Velma von Tussle, paired with Sonny Bono. She also had a voice role in the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City video game as a cab dispatcher.
In the late sixties she appeared with a forgettable folk-rock group, The Wind in the Willows.
Debbie Harry became the prototype for successive strong women in popular music such as Madonna, Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani and any number of contemporary pop princesses. Up to that point, rock had been a heavily male-dominated field, with women trivialized as backup singers or groupies. Many women musicians have acknowledged Debbie Harry's pioneering role.
- Deadly Hero (1976)
- The Blank Generation (1976) (documentary)
- The Foreigner (1978)
- Unmade Beds (1980)
- Union City (1980)
- Roadie (1980)
- New York Beat Movie (1981)
- A New Face of Debbie Harry (1982) (short subject)
- Rock & Rule (1983) (voice)
- Videodrome (1983)
- Forever, Lulu (1987)
- Satisfaction (1988)
- Hairspray (1988)
- New York Stories (1989)
- Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)
- Dead Beat (1994)
- Drop Dead Rock (1995)
- Heavy (1995)
- (1995) (documentary)
- Sandman (1996) (short subject)
- Cop Land (1997)
- Six Ways to Sunday (1997)
- Who Is Harry Smith? (1998) (documentary)
- Joe's Day (1998)
- Zoo (1999)
- Red Lipstick (2000)
- The Fluffer (2001)
- Deuces Wild (2002)
- Spun (2002)
- Try Seventeen (2002)
- (2003) (documentary)
- My Life Without Me (2003)
- A Good Night to Die (2003)
- Ghostlight (2003)
- Mayor of the Sunset Strip (2003) (documentary)
- Ramones Raw (2004) (documentary)
- (2004) (documentary)
- deborahharry.com, official Deborah Harry web site
- blondie.net, Deborah Harry's page on the official Blondie web site
- tikilab.com, official Deborah Harry & Blondie forum
- IMDB entry on Deborah Harry
- Blondie, From Punk to the Present: A Pictorial History. Companion website to the definitive book on Debbie Harry, Blondie, and the punk/new wave era which produced them.
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