Blondie Singer Debbie Harry’s Biggest Mistake
Financial management often plays a crucial, yet underappreciated, role in an artist’s career. This is vital for a musician’s sustained success and stability. It involves not just managing current earnings but also budgeting, investing, handling taxes, and securing future income through rights management. Without effective direction, even top artists like Debbie Harry of the Blondie can face serious financial challenges.
In her 2019 memoir ‘Face It,’ Harry wrote that in the early 80s, she and her partner Chris Stein, who were together for 13 years, lost all their assets. Despite their successful debut album ‘Blondie’ in 1976, numerous global tours, six UK Number 1 hits, and selling 40 million records, they faced financial ruin.
Harry Opens Up About Her Biggest Mistake
This was due to a large unpaid tax bill from the US Internal Revenue Service, which led to the loss of their New York townhouse and even some of Harry’s clothes being seized. The singer described that period as her ‘biggest mistake,’ speaking to the Guardian in October 2019, and then said the following:
“That I didn’t pay more attention to business and that I was really only interested in making music and performing.”
The Perils Of Poor Financial Management
Harry explained her limited involvement in managing her finances by saying that musicians often struggle with handling business matters, making them vulnerable to exploitation. She attributed her financial troubles to poor advice from financial advisors and bad contracts signed by the band early in their careers. In a 2014 interview with Daily Mail, she noted, referring to their then-manager:
“I despise that person. He treated me and the band despicably. In Blondie, we were very bad at the business side, and we lost a lot of money because of that. It was a hard lesson to learn.”
Blondie’s Business Missteps And Exploitation
Again speaking to Daily Mail, this time in 2019, the rocker shared how they were frauded by their agency, explaining:
“[Blondie] weren’t the first band to be ripped off, and we won’t be the last. I would have definitely made a lot more money if I’d been a hooker, not a singer. Musicians make easy pickings because no one wants to know the financials or the numbers; they just want to go out there and perform.”
Additionally, Stein was dealing with significant health problems, which added to their financial difficulties. He was hospitalized due to an autoimmune disease, and Debbie spent the next few years caring for him, uncertain about how to cover his medical expenses. This situation also led to the dissolution of the band.
During that period, both were using heroin. In her book, Harry mentioned that she used to bring the drug to Stein in the hospital and believes that the medical staff, aware of his drug use, overlooked it as it helped him manage pain and mental distress.