As the co-founder and guitarist of the popular band Blondie, Chris Stein gained popularity in the US and UK after releasing the singles “Heart of Glass” (1978), “Sunday Girl” (1978), “Atomic” (1980), “Call Me” (1980) and “The Tide is High” (1980). He and Blondie reached the pinnacle of success with such albums as Parallel Lines (1978), Eat to the Beat (1979) and Autoamerican (1980). Recently, the group became an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Amid his glory days with Blondie, Stein was diagnosed with a rare and usually fatal genetic disease called “Pemphigus,” which produced blisters all over his body. He is now fully recovered from the illness after going through a lengthy treatment. Stein, who was previously known for his romantic relationship with Blondie singer/co-founder Debbie Harry, is married to Barbara Sicuranza and is the father of a daughter.
Giving up Egyptology
Childhood and Family:
Chris Stein was born on January 5, 1950, in Brooklyn, New York. Although originally wishing to be an Egyptologist, Chris immediately became addicted to music after his parents bought him a guitar.
Chris suffered a nervous breakdown after his father died of a heart attack. After being expelled from school, Chris focused on playing music and joined a local group called the Stilettos, where he met future professional and romantic partner Debbie Harry (Deborah Harry).
Subsequent to his longtime relationship with Debbie, Chris is now married to actress Barbara Sicuranza, whom he wed in 1999. The happy couple has a daughter named Akira, whose godmother is Debbie.
The Tide is High
Heavily influenced by the glam rock scene of the 1970s in New York, Chris Stein joined a band called the Stilettos as its guitarist. After the band members parted ways, Stein and one of the Stilettos’ singers, Debbie (Deborah) Harry, decided to set up another band named Blondie and recruited Clem Burke (drummer) and Jimmy Destri (keyboard player) as Blondie’s main members.
Taking their first step, Stein and the group released a self-titled album in 1977 and became an opening act for Iggy Pop and David Bowie. After bursting into the music scene with the No.2 UK hit “Denis” from their sophomore album Plastic Letters (1977), Blondie received greater response with the album Parallel Lines (1978), which sold over 20 million copies worldwide. It featured the chart-burning singles “Picture This,” “Hanging on the Telephone,” “Heart of Glass” (No.1 in the US) and “Sunday Girl” (No.1 in the UK).
Accompanying the platinum album Eat to the Beat (1979), Stein, with Blondie released an album-length video featuring tracks like “Shayla,” “Die Young Stay Pretty,” “Sound-A-Sleep” and “Dreaming.” A year later, the band topped the UK charts with “Atomic” and ruled the US music scene with “Call Me” (also from Eat to the Beat). Another platinum certification came after they launched the album Autoamerican (1980), bringing out the popular single “The Tide is High.”
The single “Island of Lost Souls” from The Hunter (1982) marked a Blondie break because of Stein’s disease Pemphigus. While taking the break, the guitarist set up the short-lived Animal Records (releasing Iggy Pop’s album Zombie Birdhouse and Gun Club’s Miami) and contributed to several Debbie Harry’s solo albums. He was also featured in Dee Dee Ramone’s album Standing in the Spotlight (1988) and pursued his interest in photography.
Reuniting with Blondie members, Stein was eventually convinced to record No Exit (1999), which sold two million copies worldwide. Stein and the band also launched the concert recording Live in New York (1999) and Live by Request (2004), as well as the studio album The Curse of Blondie (2004).
The musician, who previously composed music for the movies Union City (1980) and Wild Style (1983), provided the main title music for Bettie Page: Dark Angel (2004). With Blondie, Stein released their Greatest Hits: Sight and Sound (2006), with a new song titled “Rapture Riders.” Blondie was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.