Friday, May 04, 2012

'Hunter' College

One of the best things about blogging is the random fun people you "meet" along the way. I've been friendly with a guy called Dishy for a long time -- we have a mutual love of the Motels, Kim Wilde, Cher, Kim Carnes, Dustry Springfield and Blondie, to name a few. Last week he suddenly informed me that he'd been "apartment douching" and came upon a "giant stack" of programs from Blondie's ill-fated tour for "The Hunter," which has long been a sore spot in my concert CV. He wanted to know if I'd like some for my collection. (Uh, are Debbie's roots dark?

Dishy's envelope arrived in the mail today and the memories immediately came rushing back to me -- no, not of how "Little Caesar" is the worst song of all time -- of the program that was really more of a two-sided poster, with the beige-background photo of just Debbie as the poster, and a small program on the other side.

Most notable about the notes are that they refer to "The Hunter" as having some of the "most powerful music they've ever made"(!) and how fill-in guitarist Freddy Martinez -- who was hired because Frank Infante was in the middle of suing the band for going AWOL in the years leading up to "The Hunter" -- is the first "Blondie" featured in the photos. (If anyone who knew anything about the band had assembled this thing, he'd have either been last, had a slightly smaller photo, or not featured at all.)

Still, I absolutely adore that photo of Debbie, and cannot recall ever seeing it anywhere ever again. What's left a sore spot, and the reason I remember this piece of memorabilia, is because I was slated to see Blondie on this tour when they stopped in Detroit, but wasn't able to save up enough money for my plane ticket that summer. (My babysitting service was embroiled in a prank-phone-call scandal and the $1/hour jobs began to dry up.) My brother Bill went -- and bought me a concert T (a mere 10 bucks!) and program -- but I was still holding out hope that they would stop in Phoenix when the West Coast dates were announced. But as any serious fan knows, the group was completely falling apart by then, painfully captured in the Toronto stop that was aired on HBO, where non-member Freddy Martinez appears to be the only person on stage who isn't completely mailing it in (maybe the editor of that program knew something the rest of us did not?). Chris Stein was withering away, using an oxygen mask backstage in the months leading up to his diagnosis with pemphigus and "The Hunter" had completely tanked on the charts. ("Island of Lost Souls" creeped up to No. 37, then quickly plummeted and no follow-up singles were released in America, where the band had racked up four No. 1 singles in a row going into this.)

The final show was in New Jersey at the Meadowlands (aka Giants stadium) -- which is a HUGE arena, and was sparsely attended -- so the second leg of the tour was canceled. The band officially broke up in 1983, and it wouldn't be until early 1999 that I officially got to see my favorite band live, having to wait to finally see Debbie Harry (along with a fully recovered Chris Stein) at a bar in Tempe, Arizona, in 1989 while promoting "Def, Dumb and Blonde." It wasn't Blondie, but at that point it was more than enough. Debbie was hungry for a comeback by then (she hadn't bothered to tour for "Rockbird"), even performed some vintage Blondie songs -- "(I'm Always Touched By Your) Presence Dear" and "Cautious Lip," if memory serves me right -- and the show was far superior to that skeleton of a band that toured in 1982, captured perfectly in this surprise present from a man called Dishy.


dishy said...


BW said...

Pine Knob, with some weirdos called "Duran Duran" as an opening act!

Anonymous said...

Ha - I was at the Toronto Concert - again with Duran Duran as an opener. It was lousy, there was some video laser images that opened the show but there was so little energy or freneticism that you would have expected from them. I can remember really being disappointed and thinking what a crappy album 'The Hunter' was. One of my present day best friends also happened to be in the audience and we connected that point many years later where, yes, we both agreed that 25 years on - it was one of the worst concerts we could ever imagine.