Under a Rock: A Memoir

St. Martin’s. Jun. 2024. 304p. ISBN 9781250286727. $30. MEMOIR
Blondie guitarist Stein, now 74 years old, begins his engaging memoir with his childhood in New York City. He details his middle-class upbringing in a left-wing family, his school days, his fascination with photography, and the phase that led to his hospitalization due to hallucinogens. He recounts his meeting singer Deborah Harry, the early days of Blondie at the NYC performance space CBGB, and the late-1970s New York punk scene. In the last half of the book, he chronicles the mainstream success of Blondie with the 1978 disco-influenced album Parallel Lines (which contained the song “Heart of Glass”), their increasingly funky pop on the 1980 single “Call Me,” and the group’s 1980 Autoamerican album (featuring “The Tide Is High”). The book ends with a description of Stein’s substance-use disorder, the end of his romantic relationship with Harry, his sobriety and family life, and the band’s ongoing tours and recordings. It also relates engaging stories about such notables as William S. Burroughs, David Bowie, H.R. Giger, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
VERDICT Written in an off-the-cuff style, this memoir offers a descriptive, highly impressionistic account of the author’s role in Blondie and his life in New York City. Will engage general readers.
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