the history of debbie harry’s iconic band, and local “rage and rapture tour” dates to look forward to
by Jon Domenick
A Google search for iconic rocker Blondie’s Rage and Rapture Tour hits first at a homepage with its own stylized “Pollinator” logo heralding Debbie Harry’s BEE Connected Campaign. Its mission is to raise awareness and promote conservation of the world’s declining bee, bird, and butterfly populations. Net proceeds from tee-shirt sales are donated to help protect these pollinators, and the band partners with Greenpeace, the Honeybee Conservancy, Friends of the Earth, and others on the project.
“Basically, my motive for supporting pollinators is survival,” the 72-year-old frontwoman explained, with Blondie co-founder and songwriter Chris Stein adding, “You can thank a honeybee for one-third of your diet.” The band’s latest single, “Tonight,” was released in limited edition seven-inch vinyl in August, its sleeve embellished with bee and flower artwork.
Pollinator is the thought-provoking group’s 11th studio album, and features eleven tracks. It debuted in May to positive reviews, and was praised particularly for its collaborations with musical artists Joan Jett, Sia, and Charli XCX. It was also one of the last albums made at Manhattan’s Magic Shop studio before it closed last year, and Harry said that she felt a particular connection there to David Bowie, who recorded his last album, Blackstar, at the SoHo institution.
The Rage and Rapture Tour spans the rest of this year and into the next, with shows coast to coast in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, then across to Europe. The rockers will appear at Englewood’s Bergen Performing Arts Center on October 14. Longtime drummer Clem Burke will be on hand, along with opening band Garbage.
Blondie has influenced music, fashion, and art simultaneously. Harry, born in Miami but raised in Hawthorne, New Jersey, evolved from Playboy Bunny to secretary to folk rocker. She met guitarist Stein upon joining the pre-punk Manhattan band The Stillettoes, and the pair launched Blondie in 1974, electrifying legendary Big Apple clubs like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, alongside era peers the Ramones and The Talking Heads. Among their biggest hits are “Heart of Glass,” “Dreaming,” “One Way or Another,” and the ground-breaking “Rapture,” one of the earliest commercially successful rap songs, which reached number one on the charts in 1981. The song pays homage to hip-hop pioneers Grandmaster Flash (“Flash is fast, Flash is cool”) and Fred Braithwaite, referenced in the song as “Fab 5 Freddy.”
Blondie has sold over 40 million albums, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, and Harry has developed a successful film and television acting career in tandem with her music, while Brooklyn-born Stein’s sidelines include stints as a record producer, record label chief, and visual artist.