Monday, February 22, 2010

Gary Valentine - The First One

A. The First One

B. Tomorrow Belongs To You

The First One b/w Tomorrow Belongs To You
Beat (001), 1978

Gary Valentine joined Blondie in their early stages at the recommendation of his friend Clem Burke. He even penned their first hit, "X-Offender," but left the group in 1977 following the release of their debut album. Blondie's second LP, Plastic Letters, included another of Gary's songs, "Presence, Dear," though he did not perform on the recording.

After moving to LA, Gary commissioned members of the Mumps to help him record two songs that he had written shortly before leaving Blondie. Paying them in sandwiches, the group recorded two astonishingly perfect power pop songs, "The First One" and "Tomorrow Belongs To You." The single was released on the Beat label in two pressings, both of which came with a lyric insert that I've seen in atleast two different colors of paper.

It should be noted that "The First One" was performed live by the Blondie in the final days before he left the group, though they never did record it in a studio. In the years that followed, Gary's version of the song would be comped numerous times and hailed as a power pop masterpiece.

Shortly after the release of the single, Gary regrouped with Richard D'andrea from The Motels and Joel Turrisi to form The Know. Their song "I Like Girls" was recorded for a Planet Records compilation LP called Sharp Cuts and later released as a single backed with "Out Of Reach" on the same label.

The band divided their time equally between California and New York. But without being able to score a major label deal, The Know finally disbanded after a couple years of constant gigging. Gary went on to play guitar with Iggy Pop's touring band for a couple years and eventually moved to England, while Joel went on to play with 20/20 before trying his hand at acting.

Gary was asked to participate on Blondie's 1997 reunion tour and comeback album, but was ultimately given the boot. In 2006, he was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame as a member of Blondie, but fierce words were exchanged on stage and Debbie Harry refused to allow him to play the induction event, stating former members (including Nigel Harrison and Frank Infante) were not allowed to play in her band (more on that story here).

Valentine is now a full time writer, having recently published a book called New York Rocker, which documented the emerging NYC new wave scene in the mid 70s. He also has numerous books and papers published about the occult and other mystic topics.

1 comment: