PEOPLE ALWAYS CALLED ME BLONDIE | AT SOME POINT I BECAME DIRTY HARRY

“Hi, it’s Deb.  You know, when I woke up this morning I had a realization about myself.  I was always Blondie.  People always called me Blondie, ever since I was a little kid. What I realized is that at some point I became Dirty Harry.  I couldn’t be Blondie anymore, so I became Dirty Harry.”

–Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry of Blondie, Coney Island, NY, 1977 — Image © Bob Gruen

“It was in the early ’70s and I was trying to get across town at two or three o’clock in the morning.  This little car kept coming around and offering me a ride.  I kept saying ‘No’ but finally I took the ride because I couldn’t get a cab.”  

“I got in the car and the windows were are rolled up, except for a tiny crack.  This driver had an incredibly bad smell to him. I looked down and there were no door handles.  The inside of the car was stripped. The hairs on the back of my neck just stood up.”  

“I wiggled my arm out of the window and pulled the door handle from the outside.  I don’t know how I did it, but I got out. He tried to stop me by spinning the car but it sort of helped me fling myself out.”

” Afterwards I saw him on the news–  Ted Bundy.”

–Debbie Harry

Debbie Harry, NYC, 1976 —  Image © Bob Gruen

1978 — Debbie Harry of Blondie — Image by © Martyn Goddard/Corbis

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HOW TO CLASH ART, MUSIC & STYLE | TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME ROCKER PAUL SIMONON

“Clothes were where my aesthetic instincts came out then. They helped make the group accessible.”

–Paul Simonon

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Back in 1976, it was the wily manager, Bernie Rhodes, who instructed Mick Jones to recruit Paul Simonon into the group that would soon become The Clash, simply because he looked the part. “I was a bit Bowie, a bit suedehead back then,” says Simonon. “And, more importantly, I was at art college. Mick liked that. He was always big on pop history. He knew all about Stuart Sutcliffe, who was Lennon’s best mate in the early days of the Beatles, and a proper artist. I remember Mick introducing me to all his mates– ‘This is my new bass guitarist, Paul. He can’t play but he’s a painter.'”

The rest, as they say, is rock’n’roll history. Together, at Rhodes’s urging, they recruited Joe Strummer to the cause, and the Clash became the coolest punk group on the planet.  When the London punk scene began, Simonon was a fledgling painter, fresh from Byam Shaw art college which, back then, was just up the road in Notting Hill. In the spirit of the times, he  drip-painted his bass guitar in the style of Jackson Pollock and learned how to play by writing out the chords and sticking them on to the instrument’s neck. His reggae-influenced bass playing soon became integral to the group’s sound.

Simonon’s traditionalist approach to painting is surprising given that, within the often volatile creative dynamic of the Clash, he was the conceptualist, the one who paid most attention to the visuals, the image. He painted the backdrop to the Clash’s rehearsal studio, and designed some of the later stage sets, including the dive-bombing Stukas that echoed their often explosive performances. You could tell the Clash were art-school punks from the start, what with those shirts stencilled with slogans and that paint-splashed bass guitar.

“That was the art student in me trying to find a look that would make us stand apart from the Sex Pistols,” he says, laughing. “The Buzzcocks were very Mondrian, and we were Pollock. As a painter, though, I’m essentially old-fashioned. Conceptualism just doesn’t do it for me. I love Walter Sickert, Samuel Palmer, Rubens and Constable. That’s just the way I am. I love putting paint on canvas, getting lost in the process of painting.”

–Sean O’Hagan

The Clash, 1982– Joe Strummer, Terry Chimes, Mick Jones & Paul Simonon.  –photo by Bob Gruen

The Clash, 1982– Joe Strummer, Terry Chimes, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon.  –photo by Bob Gruen

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THE ILLUSTRATED MAN OF ROCK & ROLL | NICK CAVE – THE FRUIT OF A BAD SEED

Nick Cave is The Illustrated Man of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  If you focus too hard, his works become tattoos that leap to life and pull you into the story of his tried and troubled soul – on a self-imposed path that’s been traveled long and hard.  You see the young anarchist punk who dyed his hair jet black (and still does), thumbing his snub nose at the clowns of conformity.  You see the angst-filled artist holed-up in his Berlin bedsit – walls covered with tattered images of religious icons and pornography, whilst penning And The Ass Saw The Angel. You see the addict stabbing the needle into his hungry vein in an attempt to satisfy the starving artist’s soul.  You see an aging artist, now reformed, reaching climax.  You see and feel the man to the point of it being inwardly personal, downright uncomfortable – and even painful at times… Don’t dare stare at the illustrated man.


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DOES ELVIS PRESLEY + WANDA JACKSON x HASIL ADKINS = THE CRAMPS? MAYBE.

Not to beat this whole Cramps thang to death…During an interesting conversation (mostly one-sided, and highly enjoyable via the internets with a new found friend), the following rock equation was confirmed.  You take the schmaltz, swagger, sex, and glitter of Elvis + the thundering gal on guitar and belting vocals of Wanda Jackson + the frantic, hollerin’ and hillbilly hunchin’ of Hasil Adkins + stir it up, add some hardcore NY snips and whips, pour it generously into a raging ’70s garage band, bake at 1,000 degrees = you might just have yourself The Cramps.

Wanda Jackson briefly dated Elvis, who encouraged her to go Rockabilly with her sound and show.

Check that pickguard made of old 45’s on Hasil Adkin’s guitar on the right…. Holy hot tracks, Batman!


The Cramps famously covered Hasil Adkins’ “She Said” which led to a new found interest in his music.

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POISON IVY OF THE CRAMPS | PSYCHOBILLY GUITAR GODDESS

Now, you don’t seriously expect that I can post on Elvis and not followup with The Cramps, right? There’s something about a gal playing a sexy Gretsch guitar that makes a many a little weak in the knees. ‘Least that’s what I’ve been told…

Poison Ivy “Rorschach” and Lux Interior, R.I.P. (her husband and co-founding member of The Cramps) gave us a genre of music gleefully known and loved known as– Psychobilly.  Starting out as the ultimate garage band back in ’76, with their raw performance intensity and simple, throbbing tunes– they influenced an entire generation of rock/punk/goth bands who followed behind in their giant footsteps, and are still thrilling kids who “discover” their musical legacy to this day.  Lux is the man, and Poison Ivy is no doubt the woman. Just get a load of these epic pics, and try not to bite through your lip…

1992– Poison Ivy of the Cramps, Tamaris Rock Festival  via

1995– Pois0n Ivy of The Cramps at the University of Utah Olpin Union Ballroom. via

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THE FILTH & THE FASHION | VIVIENNE WESTWOOD’S ’70s SEX RAG REVOLUTION

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Jordan- the sassy sado SEX clerk that would accomodate your purchase at the King’s Road Boutique.

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Malcolm McLaren gets a lot of credit for carefully crafting The Sex Pistols’ schtick, sound, and look.  His real-life partner and cohort in concocting, not only the look of The Sex Pistols, but the Punk movement at large was, as we all know– Dame Vivienne Westwood.

Her tartan bondage suits, leather studs, and shocking tees (I won’t get into the naughty bits) were the, eh-hem, uniform for the 1970’s punk movement that lashed-out against hygiene, authority, rules, corporate rock, and mainstream society as a whole.  It was a cultural correction– a necessary reset that would inspire and create great music, art, and fashion to this day.  It was quite a scene back then, with no shortage of characters in the Malcolm/Westwood mix– The Sex Pistols of course, as well as Siouxsie Sioux, and Chrissie Hynde, among others… oh, and of course Jordan.  Oh my.

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(Lt.) Jordan stands seductively in front of the King’s Road SEX boutique.  (Rt.) McLaren & Westwood.

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McLaren & Westwood’s SEX boutique on King’s Road in Chelsea started out in ’71 as a small record shop where McLaren and a friend peddled vinyl, magazines and rock memorabilia.   It soon grew into Let It Rock– a hip “Teddy Boy” shop that sold used, as well as new fashions (designed by Malcolm’s school teacher gal-pal Westwood), that soon became all the rage for their creepers & pegged pants.  It changed fashion direction in ’72 and was renamed Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die until 1974, when it once again got a facelift.

Christened with 4 ft. tall hot pink foam letters mounted directly to the graffiti-covered storefront spelling-out the new shop’s namesake– SEX carried innovative and provocative fashions designed by Vivienne Westwood, as well as authentic bondage & fetish gear– creating a look called Punk. The list of names that frequented and/or worked at SEX reads like a “who’s who” of early Punk Rock history.  Punk now had a name, a sound, and finally– an official shop, which would soon spawn imitators (BOY) ready to cash-in.

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The infamous SEX boutique of Malcolm McLaren & Vivienne Westwood on King’s Road, Chelsea. via

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DIRTY, DANGEROUS & DESTITUTE | NEW YORK IN THE 70s – ALLAN TANNENBAUM

More than a few years back, I was walking up 40th past Bryant Park with my boss at the time, Jay, and he said– “You wouldn’t even recognize this place back in the 70s… you’d have been tripping over hypodermic needles, and fighting off the hookers back then.  It was nasty, man.” A chort was about all I could muster-up as a response. Maybe he was over-stating it a bit, or maybe I just couldn’t fathom– I’ve never felt unsafe in the city.  I just couldn’t get my arms around what he was talking about– it felt so far-removed and long ago. But man, these pics and words by Allan Tannenbaum make it vividly clear what NYC was truly like back then– probably just what Jaybird was talking about. It’s hard to imagine… Oh, and there was also some hellacious parties happening as well– and the music scene was incredible.

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Long-abandoned Pier 48 being used by gay men as a rendezvous for casual sex. ~ image copyright © Allan Tannenbaum

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New York in the 70s: A Remembrance

February 2004

by Allan Tannenbaum

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Dirty, dangerous, and destitute. This was New York City in the 1970s. The 1960s were not yet over, and war still raged in Viet Nam, fueling resentment against the government. Nixon and the Watergate scandal created even more resentment, cynicism, and skepticism. Economically, stagnation coupled with inflation created a sense of malaise. The Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 delivered another blow to the U.S. economy, and brought the misery of long lines to buy gasoline. Conditions in Harlem and Bed-Stuy were horrendous, with abandoned buildings and widespread poverty. The subways were covered everywhere with ugly graffiti and they were unreliable. It seemed as if the entire infrastructure was in decay. Political corruption, sloppy accounting, and the cost of the war were killing the city. Times Square, the crossroads of the world, was seedy and sleazy. Pimps, hookers, and drug dealers owned the night there. Crime was rampant, and the police were powerless to stop it. Random killings by the “Son of Sam” made New Yorkers even more fearful. The parks were in decay, with litter and bare lawns, and it was home to muggers and rapists. When the proud City of New York had to beg the Federal Government for a financial bail-out, the President said no. The Daily News headline said it all: “Ford to City – Drop Dead.”

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Transit Authority K-9 Police use German Shepherds on the subway to deter crime. ~ image copyright © Allan Tannenbaum

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VICIOUS WHITE KIDS | THE SEX PISTOLS TAKE ON ROCK ‘N ROLL & THE SOUTH

10 Mar 1977, London, England, UK — The punk rock group, The Sex Pistols, are about to be moved by a policeman as they sign a copy of their new recording contract with A & M Records outside Buckingham Palace. The next record to be released is called “God Save the Queen”. The band members (from far left to right) are John Lydon, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Sid Vicious. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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I’m not gonna lie– life has been kicking my ass a little lately. It’s got me wantin’ to spit, sneer, and swear like Sid Vicious.  But instead, I’ll humbly take my licks and lumps, and keep on pluggin’ along the best I know how.  I actually have a feelin’ this could end up being one helluva year– for TSY and beyond.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I spend a ton of time in Dallas for business.  I’ve been going down for years, and know it pretty well.  Calling it my 2nd home is not a stretch by any means– it’s a cool town, and I’m very comfortable there.  Lots of great people and good eats.

So, Friday I was having lunch at El Fenix with my buddy Bruce, who’s a few years older than me, and outta nowhere I ask him, “Hey, man– were you in Texas back in ’78 when the Sex Pistols rolled through on tour?  You remember them?”

Well, his face lit-up like a Christmas tree as he said, “You mean that Sid Vicious kid?  Yeah man, of course I remember it.  It was a mess!  He was runnin’ his mouth, spittin’, and swingin’ that bass around like a baseball bat on stage– mowin’ people down.  They wanted to kill him!”

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The Sex Pistols’ infamous Dallas, Texas show marquee at the Longhorn Ballroom (once owned by Jack Ruby) back in January of 1978– “Sid was really f*cked up. Really drunk. He played for a while without his guitar plugged in. He played for a while with a fish. I think somebody threw it up there, a bass or something. People seemed pissed at him. He’d spit on the audience; they’d spit on him. That’s what you did. There was this element of, ‘You paid to see us play?'”— The Austin Chronicle

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