Debbie Harry

The first record Blondie’s Debbie Harry ever bought

Debbie Harry’s life has revolved around music for as long as she can remember, and the first record that she ever purchased is from an artist she still admires today.

Usually, the first single in our record collection is a source of deep embarrassment, but not for Harry; she’s always been on the right side of cool. Her mother first indoctrinated the Blondie singer into the world of music when she was just an infant. Although they had considerably different tastes, Harry Sr. taught her how powerfully music could affect your feelings.

Long before Harry became the poster-girl of the new wave scene by bringing the spirit of CBGBs to the mainstream, when she was growing up in New Jersey, it was opera that was her first gateway into music. However, it was rather imposed upon her rather than by choice.

During a radio interview, Harry reflected upon her earliest memory of music and recalled: “I don’t know when I first heard it precisely. It must have been when I was a tiny infant because my mother used to love opera, and have it on the radio all the time. So, probably as a tiny little girl I heard music.”

However, when she became old enough to buy her own records, opera was the last thing on her mind, and like many of her contemporaries, all she wanted was a sweet taste of the blues.

“I guess it was an R&B song, it might have been Fats Domino or something like that,” she recollected. Although Harry couldn’t recall the precise song by Domino in this particular instance, thankfully, on another occasion, she elaborated about his impact on her as a youngster.

“I do remember one of the first things that had an effect on me as a child: hearing Fats Domino do Blueberry Hill. It was music my parents weren’t into, so this was stuff just for me,” she explained.

Harry continued: “I love it when musicians and their instruments sort of become an entity in themselves – you see it with Nina Simone and Ray Charles as well as Fats Domino. All their music is so emotional for me. If I’d grown up differently, maybe I’d have had the diligence to learn an instrument. Oh well – I don’t think I’m going to get there at this point!”

Although it seems unlikely that growing up idolising the holy trinity of Nina Simone, Ray Charles, and Fats Domino shaped the sound of Blondie, remarkably, that’s what happened. Even her mother’s love of opera potentially seeped into her subconscious and made Harry believe the most vital instrument was the vocal cords.

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