It’s hard to imagine a musical world without Blondie. The band are so synonymous with alt-pop and mainstream cool that it’s hard to fathom a time without Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and the rest of the group on our stereos.
However, for many across the UK, this was the case until the band’s stock began to rise in the late seventies. The clip below is a timeless piece of that musical joy as Blondie perform on TV for the first time ever, singing their powerful punk beauty, ‘Rip Her To Shreds’.
Over the pond in the States, 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 started to amass quite the cult following with her striking good looks and her ability to reach vocal heights on angels can dream of.
By 1975 the band were already frequenting CBGBs and, by 1976, they were recording their first album but to little commercial success. That all changed in ’77, however, when the band bought back their previous contract with Private Stock Records and signed with Chrysalis Records in bid to reissue their debut LP Blondie.
Re-released on the new label in October 1977, the temperature starts to rise for the art-punks as they deliver equal parts power-pop and punches to the lip. 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 dynamic persona of Debbie Harry.
Unlike any other frontperson of the time, she exuded confidence and sex appeal, Debbie Harry was a punk pin-up, if ever there was one. What’s more, is she had the balls and the guts to back it all up, Harry wasn’t just a pretty face she was also the razor ready to slice your eyeballs.
With such a combination leading the band, the heat of Blondie’s rocket jets began to build ready for launch. It meant the group were keen to make sure that the re-release of Blondie was a success—that meant getting out of America and across to Europe where punk was beginning to broach the charts.
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 dirtiest and dingiest clubs, the band were also keen to find some airtime on radio and television wherever possible. Enter the late, great 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 normally had a grubby finger in 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 Mancunian juggernauts their first shot? Tony’s label. The Hacienda? Tony’s club. Joy Division? Tony’s.
So it remains unsurprising, then, that when Blondie and Harry came to town to make their television debut that Tony was somehow involved. The show would see the band perform on what was known as Granada Reports and it featured the best of the burgeoning rock scene as well as Tony as the 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, while it’s thought to be from ‘So It Goes’ a section of Granada Reports we can’t be exactly sure of its origination.
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.