The Forgotten Collaboration of Debbie Harry and Artist H.R. Giger

In 1981 Debbie Harry released her first solo album, Koo Koo. Artist H.R. Giger was commissioned to do the artwork and also ended up directing her music videos for the album. Read his description of how this amazing collaboration took place and watch one of the classic videos below.

"My second trip to America,which I made in the company of Mia, my wife at the time, gallery owner Bijan Aalam, and my manager, had in its purpose the Academy Award nomination of Ridley Scott's film, Alien. On the return trip from California we made a stop in New York City and stayed at the Chelsea Hotel. Due to the lack of a safe, the freshly conquered Oscar had to spend the night in a refrigerator.

The next morning we visited the Hansen Gallery on 57th Street, Which was showing an exhibit of my Alien paintings. There I was introduced to a very beautiful woman, Debbie Harry, the singer of the group Blondie, and her boyfriend, Chris Stein. They were apparently excited about my work and asked me whether I would be prepared to design the cover of the new Debbie Harry album. I found both of them immediately likeable; so I readily agreed and was greatly pleased to be allowed to create something for such an attractive woman, although I had never heard anything from the group. This was due to the fact that I was more interested in jazz.

They invited me to their apartment, which made upon me the impression of a furniture warehouse, that was only passable through narrow, dark walkways, but held much promise. They both felt very at home in their nest but were planning to move to a single, four story house. During this visit Debbie explained that she had had enough of Blondie, had colored her hair brown, and wanted to pursue a solo career, using the name Debbie Harry, singing with the black group "The Sheeks". I asked exclusively for a few black and white front portrait photos. When I was back in Switzerland, I picked up some excellent shots (from Brian Aris) in which Debbie wore her hair combed sharply back. Since I had just had acupuncture treatment from my friend and doctor, Paul Tobler, the idea of the four needles came to me, in which I saw symbols of the four elements, to be combined with her face.

I submitted the suggestions by phone to Debbie and Chris. They liked the idea and, in addition, they commissioned me to make two videoclips (music videos) of the best songs. For the title of the album I had thought of something like "Akku Akku," calling to mind (Thor) Heyerdahl. From that Debbie made Koo Koo. Conny de Fries, who had already finished the models of the needles, took over the work on the set décor and special effects of the clips. Then, on the day of the filming, the director did not show up, so with the help of the cameraman/editor, Urs Thoenen, I took over the directing and production. Thus the cover and clips came into being while Debbie and Chris took a vacation in Switzerland."

H.R. Giger, 1991

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