Embracing a broad range of pop music that encompassed British Invasion rock, garage rock, disco, reggae, Latin rhythms, and hip-hop, Blondie was the most commercially successful band to emerge from the New York punk/new wave community of the late ’70s. The group was formed in New York City in August 1974 by singer Deborah Harry (b. July 1, 1945, Miami, Florida), formerly of the folk-pop group Wind in the Willows, and guitarist Chris Stein (b. January 5, 1950, Brooklyn, New York) out of the remnants of Harry’s previous group, the Stilettos. The lineup fluctuated over the next year; drummer Clement Burke (b. November 24, 1955, New York) joined in May 1975, and bassist Gary Valentine signed on in August, while keyboard player James Destri (b. April 13, 1954) came on board in October, completing the initial permanent lineup. One of the first bands on the CBGB scene to score a record deal, Blondie released their first album, Blondie, on Private Stock Records in December 1976. In July 1977, Valentine was replaced by Frank Infante.
In August 1977, Chrysalis Records bought Blondie’s contract from Private Stock and in October released their second album, Plastic Letters. (Chrysalis also reissued the debut LP.) Blondie expanded to a sextet in November with the addition of bassist Nigel Harrison (born in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, England), as Infante switched to guitar. Blondie broke commercially in the U.K. in March 1978, when their cover of Randy & the Rainbows’ 1963 hit “Denise,” renamed “Denis,” became a Top Ten hit, as did Plastic Letters, followed by a second U.K. Top Ten, “(I’m Always Touched by Your) Presence, Dear.” Blondie turned to U.K. producer/songwriter Mike Chapman for their third album, Parallel Lines, which was released in September 1978 and eventually broke them worldwide. “Picture This” became a U.K. Top 40 hit, and “Hanging on the Telephone” made the U.K. Top Ten, but it was the album’s third single, the disco-influenced “Heart of Glass,” that took Blondie to number one in both the U.K. and the U.S. “Sunday Girl” hit number one in the U.K. in May, and “One Way or Another” hit the U.S. Top 40 in August. Blondie followed with their fourth album, Eat to the Beat, in October. Its first single, “Dreaming,” went Top Ten in the U.K., Top 40 in the U.S. The second U.K. single, “Union City Blue,” went Top 40. In March 1980, the third U.K. single from Eat to the Beat, “Atomic,” became the group’s third British number one. (It later made the U.S. Top 40.)