It’s hard to imagine a musical world without Blondie these days. The band have become so synonymous with alt-pop and mainstream cool that it’s hard to fathom a time without Debbie Harry et al on our stereos. But in 1977 for many across the U.K., this was the case until the band’s stock began to rise in the late seventies. This clip is a timeless piece of that musical inflation as Blondie perform on TV for the first time ever, singing ‘Rip Her To Shreds’.
Over the pond in the good old US of A, Blondie had been quietly making their name in the Big Apple. Debbie Harry, while picking up shifts at the infamous Max’s Kansas City, had begun to amass quite the cult following. By 1976 they were recording their first record but to little commercial success. That all changed in 1977 when the band bought back their previous contract with Private Stock Records and signed with Chrysalis Records, so they could reissue their debut LP Blondie.
The first album was re-released on the new label in October 1977, and saw the temperature start to rise for the art-punks. Rolling Stone’s review of the debut album observed the eclectic nature of the group’s music, comparing it to Phil Spector and the Who, and went on to comment that the album’s two strengths were Richard Gottehrer’s production and the persona of Debbie Harry.
The iconic rock and roll publication said that she performed with “utter aplomb and involvement throughout: even when she’s portraying a character consummately obnoxious and spaced-out, there is a wink of awareness that is comforting and amusing yet never condescending.” It also noted that Harry was the “possessor of a bombshell zombie’s voice that can sound dreamily seductive and woodenly Mansonite within the same song”.
So as the heat of Blondie’s rocket jets began to build to launch, the band were keen to make sure that the re-release of Blondie was a success and that meant getting out of America. They travelled to the UK where punk was at its peak and found a willing audience in the hearts and minds of the British youth. Arriving to perform a series of gigs across some of Britain’s best and dingiest clubs, the band were also keen to find some airtime on radio and television wherever possible. Enter Tony Wilson.
During the late-seventies Tony Wilson was as inseparable from the British music industry as he was from his wallet. He was involved in every good thing that was happening and a lot of the bad. The infamous Sex Pistols gig in Manchester? Tony was there making introductions. The Factory records label which gave so many bands their first shot? Tony’s label. The Hacienda? Tony’s club. Joy Division? Tony’s. You see where we’re going with this.
So it’s unsurprising then that when Blondie came to town to make their television debut that Tony was somehow involved. The show Debbie and co would perform on was known as Granada Reports and it featured the best of the burgeoning rock scene as well as Tony as anchor. Beyond that, we’re a bit stumped. There’s very little online about the performance and as you’ll see from the clip the footage is ropey at best.
So, instead of spending our time trying to find out the name of the studio manager at the time, or the kind of film they used, or the struggles which fell on Tony Wilson’s shoulders during and after, we thought we’d just sit back and watch one of our favourite band’s first-ever performance on TV.
Watch below as Blondie perform ‘Rip Her To Shreds’ on Granada Reports from back in 1977