Debbie Harry first met Chris Stein in New York in 1973. After a stint in folk group The Wind in the Willows, and most famously working at the Playboy Club, Harry joined all-female band The Stilettos. At the band’s first show Stein, who was haunting the New York arts scene hoping to find a band to join, was in the audience. The attraction was immediate. “He was really prominent in the audience to me for some reason, yet I couldn’t really see his face,” Harry recalled. Stein’s memories are slightly less romantic and tinged with what can only be described as glee. “I probably saw in her what a lot of people saw later on … but I got there first.” Before long Stein had joined The Stilettos, and the pair were an item, living together in New York’s SoHo district long before it was hip. Blondie really wasn’t just about its blonde singer. At its heart was the rather touching love story of Harry and Stein.
By 1975, Harry and Stein had struck out on their own. With an ever-changing roster of back-up musicians, they performed under various names – Angel and The Snake, Blondie and the Banzai Babies – until settling on the simpler Blondie, allegedly inspired by the catcalls that Harry received on the street. Drummer Clem Burke came on board in 1975 but the band nearly fell over before it had started when both Stein and Burke, without Harry’s knowledge, auditioned for The Heartbreakers and Patti Smith respectively. Their failure to make the cut was probably the best career move they could have made. In June 1975, now with Gary Valentine on bass, the band recorded their first demo tape. Its five tracks included ‘The Disco Song’ which would later morph into the band’s biggest hit of all, ‘Heart of Glass’.