Hey y’all! In my career I’ve met a lot of achievers, both famous and not so famous and I loved collecting their stories. One thing they all had in common was an absolute blind refusal to give up when the load became too heavy.
The ability to pick oneself off the ground…(yet again!) and dust off the seat of our pants is in all of us. If you are experiencing tough times this little series of stories is for you. For some folk, who seem to have been handed it all on a plate, their stories will surprise you!
WHO? : Blondie
IS? : A band
SAID? : ‘Music is wonderful’
Blondie’s story drew me to it not because it was one of those knock you off your feet type stories, but maybe because it isn’t. But it demonstrates something I talk about an awful lot. That is to never underestimate the role of luck and how to simply tread water with purpose whilst you are waiting for your break! Blondie became the most successful female headed band ever. In their heady career they clocked up seven no.1 singles and sold 30 million albums.
Blondie’s birthplace was a grimy, acrid, smelly club called CBGB’s in New York City. This club was a haven for the burgeoning punk scene and brought forth some of the biggest names in punk music, such as Talking Heads and The Ramones.
It was a wonderful place for young bands to rehearse their new songs and hone in on their instruments in front of a live audience. The trouble being that the audience although live were snootily unappreciative. The audience was made up of other bands who all thought that they were the coolest and the best and therefore a band could put on the performance of their lives and finish on a thrilling crescendo to the sound of an impatient cough and whistling tumbleweed.
When Debbie Harry and her band Blondie played there she broke the cool rule by being a female and being beautiful. Because of this the band were looked down on and never taken seriously. The guys were mesmerized, the intellectuals feigned disinterest and the women hated her! One such woman was singer Patti Smith.
As an ‘interesting’ geeky type, Patti Smith was also the exception to the female rule, but she was not Debbie Harry. People loved her for a different reason, she was the queen of the nerds and she saw no reason to share her kingdom with the stunning upstart. Debbie Harry reportedly was told in no uncertain terms that there was no room for both of them. She was informed that she could not sing and she had no talent and should leave.
Out In The Cold
As a result Blondie was practically blacklisted and could not get any more performance time at CBGB’s. They moved down the street and rented a cheap loft which was cold, damp and smelly, but was roomy enough to enable them to rehearse and that was the main thing.
It was probably at this time that Providence raised her head and noticed this band that had not given up despite having nowhere to rehearse. Blondie’s rise can be charted from this period.
Chris Stein, guitarist and Debbie Harry’s boyfriend at the time, decided that the dank, smelly loft would be a good place to take pictures of his exquisite, edgy girlfriend. When he sent the pictures to a magazine she was made Punk Playmate of the Month and this garnered enough attention to get them a record deal.
Providence had not finished…
They made a single – and in those days you had an A side and a B side to a 45 inch vinyl record. The A side was called ‘Ex Offender’ however, in Australia a DJ played the wrong side which was called ‘In The Flesh’ and the record shot to no.1 This meant that the band de camped to Australia to promote their surprise hit which gave them a gold record and their first major tour.
The exposure brought them to the attention of Iggy Pop who invited them to tour with him and David Bowie. The band having already experienced their first tour were ready and could play well together and had formed their ‘sound’. The exposure led to Chrysalis records snapping them up in the UK where fans went crazy for Debbie Harry whose beauty did not deter girl fans, rather made them want to be her and she was easily the pin up girl for most young men at that time. They had their first hit ‘Denis Denis’ in the UK and this culminated full circle in their first no.1 back home in the US, ‘Heart of Glass.’ They arrived home to New York victorious, via Australia!
Grrr! Why YOU ain’t beat yet!
You are not beaten because it is important to appreciate the role that luck or God or prayer or that intangible spiritual ‘thing’ plays in any success.
Whatever your endeavour, let providence do it’s work for you. Let it!
The bit you have to do is be prepared, do everything you are capable of doing. Don’t get caught with your pants down! Dot the i’s, cross the t’s and do the spellcheck! Get everything ready, watch out for every opportunity – especially when, as was the case with Blondie, opportunity comes dressed as a knock back and then embrace all chances and let providence do it’s job.