Revisit one of Blondie’s earliest live performances at New York’s CBGB, 1975
We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to bring you a special performance from one of our favourite acts, Blondie. Take a trip back to 1975 and visit one of their first live shows with Debbie Harry and the group wreaking havoc at the front of the stage.
There a few bands with a heavier degree of New York kudos than new wave royalty Blondie. The Debbie Harry fronted band are jewels in the grimy crown of rock and roll from The Big Apple and have been gleaming examples since 1974. Here, we’re taking a look back at some of the earliest footage of the band’s incendiary live show.
Not only are we looking back at one icon of NYC in Blondie but we’re also looking back at their Royal court, the iconic punk venue CBGBs. The venue is a legendary landmark in musical history. As famous for its filthy interior as it was the soon-to-be-infamous punk acts it housed, Hilly Kristal’s punk palace was the proving ground for so many of rock and roll’s best and brightest.
One of the brightest bands on the scene was Blondie. The group took to the stage in August of 1975 to give a thunderous performance for the crowd — all the while adding a double dollop of ‘the future’ with every single tune.
Below we’ve got the rare footage of Harry, Chris Stein, Clem Burke, and Gary Valentine performing an unreleased track titled ‘A Girl Should Know Better’. The band was entirely different from everything else on the stage at that time.
First of all, they were fronted by the uncompromising and unrelenting Harry, the former Max’s Kansas City waitress who dished out angelic vocals that were chock-full of knuckles. Secondly, Harry, unlike the other break-out artist on the New York underground scene the Ramones, had some serious songwriters and musicians working with her. It would take Blondie out of the bubbling bowels of the city and effortlessly into the mainstream.
Harry, ever the performer, comes out in stage-attire that would encourage a young Britney Spears in 1998 to don a full schoolgirl outfit, and prowls the stage with sweet and filthy venom. Backed amply by the band consisting of stalwart members Stein and Burke, Blondie gives a lucky CBGB crowd a taste of what’s to come.
Not that the performers were necessarily lucky to be there. “It was hard to concentrate at CBGB’s because it smelled so bad,” Harry wrote in the band’s official biography. “Hilly Kristal, the owner, kept dogs in the back, and they used to throw up and shit indiscriminately. The kitchen was covered with grease, rats, flies, maggots, and shit too.” Yet they kept coming back.
Blondie became near-residents at the punk club. Alongside CBGB alumni Ramones, Talking Heads, Dead Boys, and so many more, Blondie was the soundtrack to the subversive seventies in New York. It was a score so sweet that it couldn’t stay in The Big Apple, instead, Blondie along with others, would break free across the globe and find a spot in the minds of a generation and generations to come.
Watch below one of the earliest known clips of Blondie performing at CBGB’s in 1975.