Along with someone who can open beer bottles with their eye socket, having a quality in-band photographer is a huge boon for bands. Blondie’s Chris Stein was one such rock snapper, as this selection of shots from their 70s heyday, available on his new website, proves.
Visit chrisstein.nyc for more, and to buy prints.
Here's Debbie Harry getting excited about playing the Whiskey a Go Go on Sunset Boulevard in 1977. Or perhaps she's loving the idea of getting her ears 'done'.
When he wasn't taking still pictures, Chris was filming the band's antics too, caught here video-taping a meeting with Tony James of Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik in London around 1978. "I dragged that old-school video rig around for a few years," Chris says of this very early prototype of Google Glass.
On a 1977 trip to London, the band mingled with the punks on Kings Road, with drummer Clem Burke throwing his best Elvis Costello poses in front of a poster for their show supporting Television. "Clem in particular [as a real Anglophile] was well prepared for the British rock scene," Chris explains.
Life in Blondie was often a real scream, as we see here as Clem kicks off a wild and bacchanalian car park party in LA using two - count 'em - boom boxes.
Clem was a grandmaster in insouciant posing, here doing his best Brucie on the road in Europe in 1977.
Hanging on the telephone? Stein's photography captures plenty of candid behind-the-scenes images, such as this fly-on-the-wall shot in Debbie's hotel room "somewhere in Europe".
Even in the 70s Blondie had their taste of the Led Zep life, staggering from limo to jet with a tug of the tramp hat.
Maybe not be the sort of scene you'd expect to see backstage at the First Annual World Sleaze Convention of 1976 - orange juice! Crisps! No sleaze whatsoever! - but here Debbie is waiting to face the armpit-licking throng. "I'm not sure if there was ever a second World Sleaze Convention," says Stein. "The convention itself was a gathering of people attracted to subculture, B-movies, etc."
You know how it is, walking around Paris in 1978, constantly bombarded with glamorous billboard posters of yourself...
Vegas baby! Keyboardist Jimmy Destri and Clem Burke enjoy high times in the sunny climes at the Tropicana hotel in 1979.
Before the limos and the, um, Liverpool tourist trips though, there was the hard graft of New York rehearsals in a studio on 37th Street during 1975. "This shot was taken early on, right after Clem had joined us. That’s him on the left in the black t-shirt, playing guitar left-handed. Gary is on the right. Debbie seems to be dubious about the noises being produced around her."
Almost as glamorous, here's the band arriving at Liverpool Lime Street station to check out the hanging gardens of Bootle. "This may have been our first trip to Liverpool and the shot was probably taken during 1977. When I investigated, I saw we did not play a Liverpool show on the first UK tour with Television, so this must have been sightseeing."
The rehearsal sessions were a musical free-for-all. "Debbie has some drum skills and I once recorded a track that she played on. We shared this rehearsal space with various other bands in a Midtown Manhattan building."
Look, don't ask. "Debbie stands for female equality," Stein explains.