Music Feature: ‘Me, Blondie, and The Advent of Punk’

November 5th marked the opening of a photography exhibition celebrating one of the world’s most groundbreaking and influential bands – Blondie.

The exhibition is taking place at London’s Somerset House from the 5th November-25th January and in Somerset House’s press release it is described as:

“Featuring over 50 images, the exhibition will serve as a snapshot to the punk scene that Blondie pioneered and show how their influence on music and fashion is just as relevant today as it was four decades ago.”

Chris Stein, Blondie’s co-founder, songwriter, guitarist and acclaimed photographer is behind the exhibition that celebrates the band’s 40 year anniversary. The exhibition is entitled ‘Christ Stein/Negative: Me, Blondie, and The Advent of Punk.’ For anyone unable to see the exhibition before it closes, a book containing all the photographs and memoirs is also available to buy.

Blondie is a band whose presence in music has never really faded, since they first started in the 1970s. They continue to play gigs and festivals and some were lucky enough to see them in 2011 at Kendal Calling. Their British fan base remains alive and well, as the popularity of this new exhibition will undoubtedly show.

There are few punk bands to rival Blondie today. The only other lead singer and band, that perhaps come close are Chrissy Hynde and The Pretenders. Blondie are unique because their music mixes a wide variety of styles including pop, disco, reggae and who can forget their experimental rap song ‘Rapture!’ Through this mix of music genres it is no surprise they had mass appeal. However, importantly they have never lost their cult, edgy, new wave band appearance that distinguishes them from everyone else.

At the centre of Blondie is Debbie Harry. At 69, she continues to be an icon in the world of music and one of the most important women in music today. Her symbolic status as the female front woman of an otherwise all-male punk band is culturally significant. Debbie Harry is often cited as the male crush of the ‘70s and ‘80s but you could argue that she has always, and continues to be a female crush figure. To write, produce and perform music in a genre that is overwhelmingly male-dominated has long been her achievement and she still denies all ageist, sexist and negative media to carry on doing what she clearly loves to do. So wear your Blondie T-shirt with pride and hope that Debbie Harry and Blondie can continue to inspire more women like her in music.

[Rosannah Jones]

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