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Wednesday, 24 February, 1999, 09:58 GMT
Blondie go full circle
Blondie in their heyday - now the band are back on top
Blondie are back on top of the UK singles chart after an absence of nearly 17 years.

The band, fronted by Debbie Harry, have re-emerged from pop obscurity to clock up their sixth number one with the single Maria.

The original blonde siren

Debbie Harry and her cohorts had five number ones between early 1979 and late 1980 - Heart of Glass, Sunday Girl, Atomic, Call Me and The Tide is High.

A string of other top 20 hits such as Denis Denis, Picture This and Hanging on the Telephone made the New York-based band one of the biggest names in the world.

Debbie Harry inspired other female pop stars such as Madonna and Annie Lennox
Blonde bombshell Harry and her band popularised the tuneful side of punk emerging out of the top New York venue CBGB's into commercial success.

But before making it in the music world Harry worked as a beautician, Playboy bunny and bartender at famous New York venue Max's Kansas City.

Due to internal tensions plus a serious illness to band member Chris Stein Blondie split up in 1982. Debbie Harry went on to work with Stein on solo albums Rockbird (1985), Def, Dumb and Blonde (1989) and Debravation (1993).

But last year saw a much-publicised reunion with the band playing a sell-out European tour.

New fans for Blondie

This time around it is not just ageing fans from Blondie's heyday that have put the 53-year-old Harry and her band at the top of the charts.

Cher is another female singer who has proved chart success does not rely oj youth
Smash hits editor John McKie said: "Young people are buying, old people are buying it, middle-aged people are buying it. Good pop records are good pop records. Cher was at number one for umpteen weeks with Believe, Blondie could stay at number one for a while with this record."

Like Cher, Blondie is a rock chick who proves that you don't have to be young to top the charts. In the past she has also been cited as a major influence by pop stars Madonna and Annie Lennox.

Blondie's new album No Exit is due out later this month. A limited edition version contains remixes of some of the band's most famous anthems.

Harry said: "We have rearranged some of the songs and freshened them up, given them a good slapping, you know... it's a lot more fun."

Rosie Millard reports on the return of Blondie
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