Debbie Harry: ‘Madonna Stole My Style’

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Deborah Harry

Blondie singer Debbie Harry has accused Madonna of stealing her look when she rose to fame in the 1980s.

Harry was an up-and-coming musician when Madonna became a pop sensation with her self-titled debut album in 1982, and is convinced the Like A Virgin singer got the idea for her platinum blonde hairdo from the now-62-year-old star.

She says, “I came right up against the Madonna thing. Maybe it’s my paranoia but she had a lot of my looks. If you look closely, sometimes there’s pictures of her and me that completely overlap.

“She (Madonna) was getting such a huge push from Warner (Bros.), I was definitely on the B-list. It was a hard period for me. I don’t think anybody knew how to market me or what to do with me. I was like a fish out of water.”


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Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007 at 7:07am
Filed under Madonna | 22 Comments


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October 2nd, 2007 at 8:25 am

I loved Blondie (and Debbie Harry) during the early 80’s But even in 81′ they were pretty much on the out. By the time Madonna was putting out her first big hit, they were old news (Holiday in 83???). Sounds like sour grapes and a case of old-timers kicking in to me.

October 2nd, 2007 at 10:54 am

I was there when the Marketed Madonna-Whore came on the scene. Her crap was marketed towards Tweens. In fact, my little niece at the time, couldn’t get enough of “like a virgin”. That’s why she sold so many records. She was not playing adult music like Blondie was. Talent-wise the Marketed Madonna-Whore couldn’t kiss Debbie Harries ass.

Madonna was the beginning of end for good music. After that, MTV came and killed good music altogether.

October 2nd, 2007 at 11:02 am

This is not true. Blondie has several Top ten hits prior to 1982 before Madonna surfaced. Somebody needs to fact check

October 2nd, 2007 at 11:49 am

Blondie’s last hit (singles wise) was 1981 Rapture….after that nothing made the charts/playlists (check wikipedia).

as I said

Madonna’s first hit was 3 years later w/ Holiday.

It’s different music though. As for Madonna stealing Debbie Harry’s look….
what did she own the patent on platinum blond cropped hair…?

Madonna hands down beat Blondie/Debbie Harry on a career. Talent too.

October 3rd, 2007 at 10:31 am


“Madonna-Whore”?!?! I think not. Facts are facts, you may not like Madonna, but lets face it, madonna’s career has lasted 25 YEARS! Blondie had their run in the 70’s and died out in the early 80’s. True, they definately had some breakthrough music and have left their mark, But I do believe that Madonna has left a huger footprint in the music industry. Here she is, at 47, and still selling out huge arenas WORLDWIDE. Can Blondie/Debbie Harry still do that? No I dont think so…sorry to break it to you.

December 26th, 2007 at 9:42 am

Madonna might have sold more records and may be a bigger star, but Debbie was far more beautiful and can actually sing and write brilliant songs. I’ll take “Dreaming” and “I’m always touched by your presence dear” over “Material Girl” any day.

September 28th, 2008 at 7:45 pm

Psst, love you Debbie, but you stole everything from Nico. So there.

December 29th, 2008 at 2:17 pm

While Madonna is quite the icon and I adore her, Debbie Harry will always be way more cool in my book. Even into older age. I think she is aging more gracefully than Madonna, who just seems to be a bitter old woman in the interviews I see of her lately. Debbie still has an optimism and youthfulness that permeates. Madge just seems so mean. Maybe she needs to bone up on the meditation a bit more…center herself. At any rate…they both stole it from Marilyn.

January 7th, 2009 at 9:40 pm

didn’t they BOTH steal the look from Marilyn Monroe? And really, is STEAL even the right word? Y’know … imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all.
Anywho … whose look HASN’T Madge ‘stolen’? The lady is a performance artist and there is room for both Debbie & Madonna in the ICON HALL OF FAME.

November 24th, 2009 at 1:02 am

chris is right. that look was marilyn monroe’s. it’s undeniable.
but i love debbie harry. she is the most beautiful front person in history.

and no, madonna doesn’t have better/more talent than debbie.

December 18th, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I agree 100% that Madonna stole Deborah Harry’s style — always thought so and I was there in “the day” — always a Blondie fan!!

April 17th, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Debbie is not a stupid woman. I am pretty sure she was not referring to the platinum blond hair, but to the entire look: street, kind of punkish/rockish along with the hair.

Nevertheless, Debbie sounds bitter and envious. That look was everywhere on the streets and nightclubs. And while Debbie desperately tries to get all the attention to herself, Madonna once said she didn’t think she (herself) was “being different at all”, she just put on whatever she got and thought it looked good.

While Debbie complains and says she was on “the B-list” of Warner (trying to make us believe that Warner over-promoted Madonna and not her band), she forgets to mention that Madonna was a master in self-promotion.

Madonna never relied on Sire or Warner to promote her music and image. Remember: it was the early 80s and music and image were in fusion at that time. Madonna, once again, aware of contemporary culture and the changes that were happening at that very moment, explored her image more than anybody else. Why didn’t Debbie Harry self-promote herself, just like Madonna did? Why took her so long to understand the power of her image? Music + Image?

As far as for their talents, I guess it’s pretty much impossible to measure talent, although some of the comments here tend to criticize Madonna. Is it just because she became a super mainstream pop icon? As far as I can see, Madonna is a very good, if not great, lyricist, and most of her work incorporates social exegesis. Much more often than many rock band posing as intellectual stars, are you there MGMT?

January 22nd, 2011 at 2:15 am

I like this weblog so much, saved to my bookmarks .

January 28th, 2011 at 10:26 am

There is a simple connection in the thrift store fashion style that came out of punk. That is the commonality. As a brief history lesson, a glitter/glam scene developed in NYC around the Mercer Arts Center in 1972. By 1973/74 you began to see the proto-punk scene emerge at CBGBs and Club 82. CBGBs led to the Mudd Club which opened after a punk magazine event in 1978. The Mudd Club, co-founded by Debbie Harry’s close friend Anya Phillips, led to Dancetera and so on. Thus the punk/thrift store look that Harry and Phillips (among others) help to create is popularize through the NYC club scene. This leads directly to punk influenced thrift store styles such as by Cyndi Lauper and later Madonna. To quote a NY Times article about the Mudd Club:

“The apotheosis of thrift-shop chic, Mudd fashion was embodied by Debbie Harry, Cyndi Lauper and early Maripol-styled Madonna, and eventually entered the fashion vocabulary of the wider world.”

I would not say Madonna stole Harry’s style (neither did Harry, deceptive headlines aside), but there is a clear line of influence. But it’s helpful to look at the general style, not this or that accessory.

July 4th, 2011 at 6:43 am

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November 18th, 2011 at 3:25 am

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December 3rd, 2011 at 3:19 am

madonna herself has admitted that she was highly influenced by debbie harry(in the book “madonna: like an icon”)so i’m not really sure why this is even an issue. anyways, i agree with the others that say they both copied/emulated marilyn monroe. EVERYBODY is inspired by someone that came before them.( marilyn monroe was even inspired by jean harlow) with that being said, i do think debbie harry was super sexy and had her own unique style, but let’s be honest-madonna is by far the most iconic and influential female pop star the world has ever seen. she has influenced virtually every female pop star today, from kylie minogue to britney spears to lady gaga and countless others! madonna broke barriers and pushed the envelope and did things that NOONE before her did, not even cher!

June 10th, 2012 at 4:15 am

Madonna seems to have only one talent, getting other peoples ideas and looks, I was a fan, but this is unfair to all who didn’t make it in show business and some big shot took credit.

August 25th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Debbie Harry may be more talented vocally but honestly, Debbie Harry has not made an album that can top Like a Prayer or any song that is as powerful as Like a Prayer. Like other users have said, Madonna stated that Debbie Harry was a huge influence so I don’t understand why it bothers Debbie so much if Madonna acknowledged it. Most people my age ( I’m 18) don’t even know who Debbie Harry is whereas everyone knows Madonna. I know that fame doesn’t mean its better but still Madonna stood the test of time and Debbie Harry didn’t. I think the main reason why Madonna was more successful than Debbie Harry was because like others have said Madonna knew how to market herself where as Debbie didn’t.

September 2nd, 2012 at 1:04 am

everybody is influenced by somebody. EVERYBODY IS. in the book “madonna: like an icon, madonna admits that she was HUGELY influenced by debbie harry and says that she thought she was the coolest chick in the world and debbie harry even replied back “hmmm, i haven’t thought of myself as a chick in some time”, so i don’t know why she would go on this tangent when madonna ADMITTED that she was inspired her! debbie should be flattered but she just sounds bitter! anyways, the people that are saying that they both stole it from marilyn monroe are also right. debbie harry herself said that she died her hair blonde to be like her idol marilyn and that as a kid she wanted marilyn to be her mom (she’s adopted) like i said, everyone has an idol. marilyn monroe was even inspired by the original blonde bombshell jean harlow. i like debbie hary and honestly think she was WAY sexier than madonna but she sounds totally jealous and bitter that she wasn’t able to sustain a long career like madonna’s.

September 2nd, 2012 at 1:19 am

@ IS55, i said almost the exact same thing and then i read your comment! i totally agree with you. one thing that madonna did have on her side though, is the birth of mtv. that most definently helped her career. debbie harry/ blondie didn’t have that. sure, they were on variety shows in the 70’s but it’s not the same as mtv. with that being said, i also think that madonna is just a better businesswoman than debbie. mtv playing your videos is going to help your career, but madonna still had that special something that just connected with people and still does 30 years later. that’s incredible! how many people from the 80’s are still doing what madonna’s doing?not only that, she’s influenced EVERYBODY! virtually every female pop star since the 80’s has been influenced by madonna. she is by far the most influential, iconic female pop star the world has ever seen. not only did girls all over the world dress like her in the 80’s, but she’s influenced everybody from kylie minogue to britney spears to gwen stefani to rhianna to lady gaga. the world will never see another see madonna-she’s a once in a lifetime pop star, like michael jackson. often imitated, never duplicated!

September 2nd, 2012 at 1:26 am

damn, i just saw that i wrote a comment (almost identical to the one i just wrote) last year in december -whoops!

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