Few shows run for as long a time as Mike Douglas’ daytime television chat show, The Mike Douglas Show did. Running for over two decades it is a cultural reference point when looking back at American society. In 1978, a band took to the studio with, “a new sound, a new look and a lot of energy.” Blondie had arrived.
Debbie Harry and co. had been making wave in Europe for a few years by the time they were welcomed on to national TV for the first time. The group’s self-titled debut and sophomore record Plastic Letters had seen Blondie flourish abroad but they were yet to crack America.
It’s perhaps an amusing thing to think about Blondie, a band so deeply entrenched in the American psyche, being far more famous overseas than they were at home. Having been born from the sticky depths of the New York underground scene, in Europe and Britain, Harry, Chris Stein, Clem Burke, Jimmy Destri and Nigel Harrison were a welcomed slice of the Big Apple.
On April 21st, 1978, the band would get their chance to lay the groundwork for their upcoming album Parallel Lines with a performance on the national TV show, The Mike Douglas Show, It was a lucrative opportunity the band would not miss.
As Mike Douglas introduces the band as a “group with a new sound, a new look and a lot of energy. This is their first appearance on television in the United States. Here is Blondie!” And with it, America was introduced to Blondie, one of the most influential rock and roll outfits in modern history.
Adding to their credentials as the leaders of the new wave with every note, the group lull the audience into a false sense of charming doo-wop security before whipping the rug from under them with their killer rendition of ‘Denis’. It was not only a good reflection of Plastic Letters, the album the band were there to promote, but also saw Blondie’s fusion of pop and punk be given a national audience for the first time.
The back alley bite that Blondie possessed was still there, however, and was unleashed a little later as the group tore through ‘Youth Nabbed as Sniper’ when Harry whips off her shades you know that things are about to quicken up. And Blondie doesn’t disappoint as they rattle through the track with the kind of feverish energy that became all too contagious.
Blondie would only go upwards from this point. The group would barely dent the album chart with Plastic Letters but the foundations of their cresting new wave had been laid. Their next album Parallel Lines would see Debbie Harry and Blondie skyrocket to the top of the pile and their legend status secured.
Watch Blondie making their US TV debut on The Mike Douglas Show back in 1978 as they perform ‘Denis’ and ‘Youth Nabbed as Sniper’.