What Debbie Harry Learned from David Bowie and Iggy Pop
Debbie Harry is hailing the educational experience of a first tour that saw Blondie opening for David Bowie and Iggy Pop. She discussed how Marilyn Monroe became her first heroine in a new interview with Rolling Stone, while also reflecting on the best advice she’d ever been given.
“There was a certain amount of improvisation in their performances,” Harry said of watching Bowie and Pop during the tour. “It wasn’t robotic, and the passion was there. Mr. Pop is passionate. It’s pretty obvious he’s kind of a wild guy, but he has standards; he has a controlled madness, and this is what it’s really all about.” Asked if the road trip changed her, Harry replied: “Probably. Experience is everything and I was sort of in an odd position as being a woman in a man’s band, and I tried not to be too coy or too cute — other than the fact that I was cute — but I tried to bring other elements into it. Whether I always achieved that is another story.”
She said the best advice had come from an early manager. “His favorite answer to a lot of things was, ‘Well, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.’ I was very disappointed about that, because we were being taken out to lunch a lot, but I understand the underpinnings for that. And then the serious best advice that I got was to get good legal advice.”
Harry continued: “I’m not a trained businesswoman, and there are some real complexities with authorship, and publishing and recording, and the different ways that your recordings can be used or sold. So, it’s not as simple as I imagined it would be at one time.” Asked if she learned that lesson early in her career, Harry said: “Not early enough!”
She went on to discuss the advantages of having found fame in her late 20s rather than earlier in her life, saying it enabled her to “have a little bit more flexibility with my ego.” It meant Harry was able to “realize that sometimes you hold strong on what your idea is and sometimes you step back and accept another person’s idea, and you know that nothing is so precious. A little bit of age gave me that.”