o r
. . .he's gonna
rock ya! Blondie
bassist Nigel
Harrison talks
to Freddy Villano
about the small
matter of holding
down the low end
on songs that
soundtracked a
igel Harrison might not be a
household name in the bass
community, but his bass-lines adorn
some of the most popular songs of
the late 1970s and early 80s. His
four-and-a-half-year stint in the
New York City-bred new wave
sensations Blondie yielded hits such as 'Call Me, 'Heart Of
Glass' and 'One Way Or Another, the last of which he
co-wrote with lead vocalist Debbie Harry.
Less widely known, but equally impressive, is
Harrison's work with several seminal bands of the 70s,
including session work with the Runaways and Nite City,
a band that was formed by former Doors keyboardist
Ray Manzarek. Prior to all that, he was a founding
member of Silverhead, an incendiary glam-rock band that
heavily influenced the 80s hair-metal wave and featured
frontman Michael Des Barres.
Harrison recently re-united with Des Barres for the
singer's latest solo album,
The Key To The Universe,
album that channels the same kind of youthful bombast
so evocatively captured by Silverhead on both their 1972
eponymous debut and
16 And Savaged,
the 1973 follow-up.
Their spontaneity on
is palpable, particularly
on songs such as 'I Want Love To Punch Me In The Face'
and 'Black Sheep'. Harrison's bass is front and centre on
the lead-off track 'Can't Get You Off My Mind', where his
melodic descending lines add the perfect counterpoint to
Des Barres' melodies. But being a bass player isn't about
being in the spotlight for Harrison: he's a bassist who truly
embraces the supportive role of the instrument.
Harrison was born in Stockport but moved south to
Buckinghamshire when he was 12 years old. “I was always
into music,” he recalls, “but I had no musical background
whatsoever.” Inspired by seeing a classmate perform the
Beatles' 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' at a school party,
Harrison eventually decided to acquire a guitar. “Vox
Guitars kept running an ad in the local paper. A few
of my friends had already sent away for, and received,
some cool guitars. After a few months, I saved up enough
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