Blondie's Debbie Harry on their Havana trip: “It could have been a disaster”

Virgin Radio

24 Jun 2021, 14:14

After an incredible career spanning 50 years, it's nice to know that Blondie's Debbie Harry can still be surprised.

She told NME about the time she ticked something off the bucket list, playing a special gig in Havana, Cuba, as part of an official cultural exchange between the two cities.

Playing the Teatro Mella was something of “a dream come true,” says Harry.

“It was certainly something we’d always wanted to do, so to do it as part of a cultural exchange made it even better.”

The gig was filmed in a short 18-minute film – 

It will be released later this year

Film director and the band’s longtime artistic collaborator, Rob Roth explains: "It’s the first project I ever pitched to them. I had to document this because I knew it was never going to happen again.”

The trip coincided with period of ill-health for guitarist Chris Stein, which prevented him from flying there.

“We lucked out in that we did get to Havana not only before it became blacklisted by the Trump administration, but also before COVID happened,” says Roth.

“But it was crazy that Chris, who was the prime mover in wanting to go to Cuba for over 50 years, couldn’t go. I only found out he wasn’t going to be there on the way to the airport! On top of shooting in a communist country I’d never been to using real film, there was Chris being ill. I started to think: Is this going to be the greatest disaster of my career?!”

Debbie said it was a scary time: “It would have been a better experience if he had come – he’s the one who was talking about it the most.”

“Right from the start, we included some Latin feel in our songs. That’s continued right through to ‘Sugar On The Side’, our collaboration with Colombian band Systema Solar which I love,” says Harry.

The band are still keeping busy though throughout the pandemic, and fans may get to hear new music soon.

“We’re in the process of setting up a period of time to lay down some tracks and rehearse,” she says. “We’re already looking at 10 – 12 songs, but it feels too early to talk about it.”

Fingers crossed it happens.