As the most commercially successful band to come out of the New York City punk scene of the late 1970s, Blondie learned that it definitely paid to have a charismatic, photogenic and brilliant lead singer—Debbie Harry. Pioneers of the music video, Blondie showcased their dynamic songs in a way that few bands of the time were prepared to do, and they placed Debbie front and center. With her signature bleach-blond hair, off-kilter style (she performed in a ripped-up wedding dress years before anyone had heard of Madonna) and killer vocals, she stole the show.
In the clip for their first single, “X Offender”, Debbie sports a Pink Ladies jacket and ponytail:
For 1976’s “In The Flesh”, it’s a slinky black dress and beret:
In a performance of “(I’m Always Touched By Your) Presence, Dear” from Great Britain’s Top of the Pops, she is monochromatic in blue:
“Hangin’ on the Telephone”, from the band’s masterwork “Parallel Lines”, is a great example of Debbie’s playful showmanship:
1979’s “Shayla” has the band moving in a new, more dramatic direction, with Debbie exhibiting an industrial-chic look:
In “Rapture”, Blondie helped bring rap music to the mainstream, as Debbie stalks the streets in a lace shawl and high heels:
The effect these videos, and others by Blondie, would have on up and coming talent— Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, and, more recently, Gwen Stefani, to name a few— is immediately perceptible. But no other band, and no other singer, would quite match the effortless cool of Blondie and Debbie Harry.