One of the most important female musicians out there has to be Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry.

She epitomises cool, rock n roll, and girl power. Paving the way for musicians including Lady GaGa, Gwen Stefani and Madonna and inspiring both fashion and culture for generations to come, Deborah Ann Harry has achieved so much more than just a rock-chick status.

Brought up in New Jersey before heading to New York as soon as she graduated high school, Harry’s musical rise to superstardom was slow to start. Her first delve into a musical career was as a backing vocalist for folk-rock group The Wind In The Willows when she was in her early twenties.

It wasn’t until she was 29 that she hooked up with Elda Gentile and Amanda Jones to form The Stilettos in 1974. The band also included Harry’s eventual boyfriend and future member of Blondie, Chris Stein.

Stein and Harry went on briefly to form Angel and The Snake before Blondie was born two years later.

It comes as no surprise that the band’s name was inspired by Harry’s hair, the term of acknowledgement she so often received from men and strangers. And in fact, in the early days many confused Harry with being the persona of Blondie, rather than the lead singer or frontwoman of the band.

With her edgy bleached hair, punk-rock confidence and style, and a streetwise nature, it’s easy to see why this was the case. The girl just oozed cool.

However it wasn’t until 1978, when Blondie released second LP “Parallel Lines”, that things really took off for Harry and Co in the UK.

Inspiring the New Wave movement with punk rock influences through
hits like “Heart of Glass” and “One Way Or Another”, Debbie and Blondie finally found their audience.
The band survived a tumultuous yet successful few years, with obstacles such as Stein and Harry’s relationship and Stein’s poor health to overcome. The band were plagued by their differences though,and eventually parted ways in 1981.

Since then, Harry has embarked on a Broadway and film career, with starring roles in “Hairspray” and “Six Ways To Sunday” among the 30+ roles she has played.

In the 15 years after Blondie, Harry also released five full-length solo albums and collaborated with The Heads, Andy Summers and Fall Out
Boy to name but a few. She has been an ambassador for MAC cosmetics’ Viva Glam campaign – in which every penny from certain MAC lipsticks goes straight to MAC AIDS fund – since 2006.

Blondie got back in the studio recently and released album “Panic Of Girls” in July 2011 before embarking on festival appearances including Scotland’s  T In The Park.

Harry’s Blondie era is what really makes her my favourite female musician. A laidback, confident, stylish and on-point rockstar, Debbie Harry proved you could make guitar music with the boys but still be relevant and fashionable enough to be accepted by the girls. She was a more accessible rock chic to emulate than Joan Jett and less in-your-face and try-hard than Madonna. Her late 70s/early 80s look is timeless, and something which I still see girls adopting today.

There’s no doubt Harry has had many other successes before and since Blondie, with a solo career, film career and dabbling in various side projects, but it’s the Deborah Harry from 1978-1981 that will always be one of most important and relevant female musicians of all time

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