WHEN CHRIS MET DEBBIE
Chris has been fortunate to support Blondie on a number of occasions as part of a band called The Boyfriends. They were lucky and cool enough to support Blondie’s second sell out European Tour in 1978, alongside The Kinks and The Buzzcocks who covered earlier parts of that crazy year. Brilliant days when ‘Denis’ and ‘Picture This’ were released. 20 gigs in 20 days for The Boyfriends and Chris on keys playing venues from Hammersmith to Munich to Paris.
Chris Stein, Debbie’s co-writer took this photo when they all played the Cornbury Festival in the UK in 2004. Chris was part of a band called the Overtures, supporting Blondie again for this two day event.
Chatting with them after the show in Cornbury, Chris discovered that Blondie’s original keyboard player Jimmy Destri was due to leave the band. It crossed Chris’s mind to drop a few hints that maybe he could be the new Blondie keyboard player, but professional discretion made him pause and the moment moved on – a decision he now ponders from time to time! Still, he gets to “totally” play all the Blondie songs with this band just the way she’d have liked! So all’s well. Sort of …
WHEN CHLOE DID NEW YORK
It's a while since that first initial lockdown barged its way into all our lives. And February 2020 seems an age away when I was very lucky to be taken away on a surprise trip to New York with my husband.
I had previously visited this breathtaking city a few times but my first experience was when I was 13. Everything this city offered cemented my career choice and gave me huge positivity to succeed. At the time, I was a student at The Arts Educational School in Tring and had aspirations of continuing my training at The Julliard School. As time passed by it soon became apparent that this was a pipe dream, as I would be so far from family, which was and is still so important to me. But I still had the performance bug and training continued in the UK..
So roll on to that last month of freedom as we knew it, in our hotel The James in Nomad, midtown, I was asked if there was anything I’d specifically like to do whilst there. I’ve never been a great shopper - browsing is my least favourite pastime. So that was a definite no go. We had already booked a trip up The Empire State, the most touristy thing on our agenda. No, I wanted to visit the Lower East side, and walk the streets that Harry and Stein once roamed. As we walked across Union Square Park, buskers of a wide range of talents approached us to watch or join in their activities. My husband was challenged to a boxing match, which he and I felt was not for him - in the old days I hear you’d get beaten up and mugged. Now you have to pay for the privilege.
Fourth Avenue lead us to Bowery. And I suddenly started to recognise where I was. In 2009 we had tickets to see Green Day at Madison Square Gardens and had stayed at The Bowery Hotel. No more than a block away from, 315 Bowery, the home of CBGBs. On this whistle stop trip I had got in and out of taxis and hadn’t had enough time to get my bearings, my radar was not Blondie focused so the connection went unnoticed.
If this had happened after 2017 I probably would've noticed because almost opposite our hotel, the infamous graffiti artist Shepard Fairey unveiled an amazing new mural, on the facade of a restaurant on Bleeker Street. The biggest homage to Blondie going. And this was our destination now in 2020.
And how outstandingly striking it is. The impact is remarkable and shows the true meaning for what this band means to this area and likewise the world over. I feel very thankful and privileged to have had the chance to view it in person, and will never forget that day.
I understand the streets we walked are very different to those of the 70s/80’s but the artistic buzz is still in its bones. The smell may be cleaner but there is certain east side ambience that remains. And although I posed like a tourist standing in front of the Statue of Liberty, I felt my own little bit of rock and roll walking in their footsteps.
And just by chance, within a week or so of returning to the UK, I saw that Totally Blondie were looking for a new front woman. I had been on the circuit for a number of years, and recently a few people had suggested to me that I would make a good Debbie Harry, so I automatically jumped at the chance. After auditioning, meeting and getting to know the band and seeing them play live, I knew I had to get this, there were too many signs.
I now feel honoured and very lucky to be a part of Totally Blondie and would like to believe the universe worked its magic and it is all meant to be.