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Debbie Harry Accuses Madonna of Identity Theft


As the theater version of Desperately Seeking Susan prepares to open in London's West End (featuring the music of Blondie), Debbie Harry says Madonna stole her look back in the 80's:

"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 Warners, 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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  1. Sounds like sour grapes to me... doesn't Debbie know that pop is cyclical and that by the time Madonna rolled around she was way past her "best before date"... and wasn't Debbie's look a direct rip-off from Marilyn Monroe? That said, I love them both.

    Posted by: james | Oct 2, 2007 9:43:57 AM

  2. I agree with the sour grapes comment. Besides, half of that look was put together by the costuming dept. of the film Desperately Seeking Susan. Don't blame Madonna. She's changed her look over the last 25 years. While I like Debbie too, Madonna's music had a lot more mass appeal at the time (even if you want to credit Warner's marketing) ... thus is the nature of pop music. Apparently people are still willing to listen to the current Britney's been the #1 download on itunes for most of this week. Go figure.

    Posted by: anthony | Oct 2, 2007 9:50:06 AM

  3. Hey Debbie, the Sugarhill Gang called. You stole their sound.

    Posted by: crispy | Oct 2, 2007 9:51:54 AM

  4. I anxiously await the day Madonna decides to just... go away.

    Posted by: David | Oct 2, 2007 9:57:58 AM

  5. I agree with David. Madonna is one the most highly overrated artists ever. I'm equally as annoyed by the obsession a lot of gay men have over her. Her music is garbage. NEXT --->

    Posted by: Tear | Oct 2, 2007 10:12:09 AM

  6. It's next to impossible to credit a single individual with a street look that proliferates within certain cultural strata. The look that Madonna was credited with was already fairly widespread in the East Village and downtown areas of Manhattan in the early '80s, although Madge was responsible for fueling its adoption by every young girl (and plenty of gay boys) in every small town in America.

    Posted by: rascal | Oct 2, 2007 10:17:16 AM

  7. Debbie Harry is a singer who also writes the majority of her material. Madonna is a dancer and a marketer. Its like comparing apples and oranges. Both are talented entertainers but Debbie gets my vote for pure artistic integrity.

    Posted by: JOHN IN MANHATTAN | Oct 2, 2007 10:18:23 AM

  8. debbie is an underground megastar... madonna is a commercial popstar... different arenas. debbie is waymore cooler and hip.

    that said, i'd love for the two girls to take this to the wrestling ring... that's the arena they can compete !!

    Posted by: A.J | Oct 2, 2007 10:21:31 AM

  9. Technically speaking, Madonna has written a great deal, if not most of her own material as well. Not to mention she's had an active hand in all of the production and remixing of her singles.

    I'll give her that.

    Posted by: bamjamz | Oct 2, 2007 10:25:33 AM

  10. This is slightly off topic, but why is it that we always pit women against each other? We seem delighted by the tabloid catfights that young starlets have... feel we must be either Team Debbie or Team Madonna... we never pit men against each other (unless it's some dumb pissing contest between Kanye and 50 Cent)...

    Posted by: james | Oct 2, 2007 10:27:44 AM

  11. I love them both but Debbie is right. Madonna has always borrowed from the best. Debbie's done alright for herself, she would have been better not saying anything.

    Posted by: Pugzz | Oct 2, 2007 10:31:53 AM

  12. To all those who want to trash on Madonna, here is an article from UK music bible Q magazine:

    The November 2007 issue of UK music magazine Q celebrates The 21 People Who Changed Music - Madonna is included and notably is the only female on the list of 21 which includes The Beatles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix.

    Madonna is the most successful female pop star that's ever existed. If she was to retire now - which looks unlikely - no other woman could come close to covering all her bases. Gwen Stefani makes similarly hooky pop-dance tracks. Fergie's got the moves. Lily Allen has the mouth; Kylie, the gay following; Dolly Parton, the business mind; Barbra Streisand, the ticket prices. But no female star - no star, full stop - does it as better as Madonna.

    Posted by: JAY | Oct 2, 2007 10:43:53 AM

  13. Let's be clear.
    When Madonna writes a song, it means she provided the lyrics. I could be wrong, but I haven't yet seen a song she has written the melody for.

    That said, I like both Debbie Harry and Madonna for very different reasons. But they both do entertain me.

    Posted by: Rey | Oct 2, 2007 10:44:47 AM

  14. Debbie is about to release a new album, too. She just threw out a pitch. Media, catch. Buy my record. I'm broke. I can't live in London Terrace forever. If it means aligning my image with Madonna's, then fine. Whatever it takes.

    Posted by: ROB | Oct 2, 2007 10:45:04 AM

  15. I respect her talent but don't all blond bimbos look alike anyway?

    Posted by: the queen | Oct 2, 2007 10:46:54 AM

  16. Girls, girls -- please don't fight!

    I love them both. I'm not the huge Madonna fan some gay men are, but I enjoy her stuff, and respect her abilities and skills.

    Request to both of you: please, please, please -- for the love of all that is holy, stay sane and don't go all "Whitney Houston" or "Courtney Love" on us.

    Posted by: tjc | Oct 2, 2007 11:01:53 AM

  17. How worthless is complaining about identity theft from THE EIGHTIES??

    I mean, c'mon Debbie, you're both has-beens now. The playing field has finally been leveled lol.

    Posted by: Wes | Oct 2, 2007 11:11:58 AM

  18. Didn't Madonna accuse Gwen Stefani of the same thing during the beginning of Stefani's pop ascent? I love Blondie/Debbie but the fact is EVERY hip east village girl looked that way in the early 80's. I am sure she was an inspiration but the theft charge is a bit simplistic.

    Posted by: Giovanni | Oct 2, 2007 11:21:13 AM

  19. Debbie Rules. Madonna borrows from EVERYBODY! It's just what she does. In the 90's she heavily borrowed fom Bjork circa Bedtime it was titled as such because Bjork gave her the title track as a gift. But I love Madonna as an entertainer and buisness woman. But Debbie Harry is just way cooler in my book. I doubt Debbie means any harm by the comments, but who knows for sure.

    Posted by: PS | Oct 2, 2007 11:21:24 AM

  20. Regardless, isn't this argument like a few decades too late?

    And anyway, Madonna left her in the dust years ago.

    What's so great about Madonna is she elicits such strong emotions in people, and love her or hate her, her fame totally eclipses any other female artist on the planet.

    Posted by: Jordan | Oct 2, 2007 11:32:20 AM

  21. Madonna stole my look? Jesus Christ which look? She's had about 150 looks every year since 1984. Besides, I'm not sure that wearing the same pair of sunglasses constitutes identity theft.

    And yes, Debbie Harry is way cooler musically. But funny, I've never seen Debbie Harry perform at an fundraiser for HIV/AIDS (as Madonna has done). I've never heard of Debbie Harry encouraging a crowd to practice safer sex (as Madonna used to do back in the late eighties/early nineties). And it wasn't Debbie Harry who was handpicked by Elizabeth Taylor to deliver an award to Miss Taylor for all her work to fight HIV/AIDS (that was Madonna). Sure, Madonna's music is the lowest common denominator. But I love her.

    Posted by: peterparker | Oct 2, 2007 11:59:26 AM

  22. Oh, I think that statement is taken out of context . Debbie had mentioned that years ago when she and Madonna were both on Warner Brothers. They are bringing it out of the closet again because of the Desperately Seeking Susan opening in London. This has to be stir shitting British journalism.

    Posted by: Drew | Oct 2, 2007 12:04:16 PM

  23. I'm not so sure Debbie's comments are sour grapes about Madonna, but the record industry in general. She says she was up against the Madonna-thing, not Madonna. Debbie has always been supportive of other artists and even recently when pressed to comment on Brit Brit & Christina, said "Christina is an amazing talent with an amazing voice(sic)" [From a sunday morning program on A&E.]

    And to PeterParker, just cause an artist doesn't attend AIDS charities doesn't mean shit. But remember Debbie was on the Red Hot & Blue CD and video. She's also performed at Wigstock and various gay clubs.

    Posted by: Lito S. | Oct 2, 2007 12:10:35 PM

  24. Didn't Debbie Harry just headline the HRC summer tour? And didn't she join forces with Marc Jacobs to support the Provincetown Arts Association? Just because she hasn't specifically peformed for an HIV/AIDS charity (or maybe she has) doesn't mean she is any less philanthropic or generous with donating her name, talent or money for other charities.

    Posted by: PS | Oct 2, 2007 12:19:43 PM

  25. Debbie has always done her own thing.. I dont think Debbie would dissrespect Madonna.. its just british TAbaloids stiring up shit.. between them.. Debbie is the best musicley.. she does almost every type of music out their.. while madonna does great pop songs.. the only thing Madonna is better at.. is danceing.. Debbie could never dance. Debbie is the best singer ever..

    Posted by: sue | Oct 2, 2007 12:49:18 PM

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