Debbie Harry’s KooKoo – The Story Behind The Sleeve

The Story Behind The Sleeve #15: Debbie Harry - KooKoo

In the spring of 1980, Blondie’s Chris Stein and Debbie Harry met HR Giger at a New York party, where his Academy Award-winning work for Alien was on display. The pair asked Giger to design the sleeve for Harry’s first solo album. The Swiss artist agreed and was “greatly pleased to be allowed to create something for such an attractive woman”. Giger had recently undergone acupuncture from his friend Dr Paul Tobler, and drew inspiration from the process. “The idea of the four needles came to me, in which I saw symbols of the four elements, to be combined with her face,” he said. The band approved and travelled to stay at his house in Zurich. Giger had to make a separate cast of each half of Harry’s face because of her claustrophobia. Writing for Heavy Metal magazine, Stein and Harry later described Giger’s work as “awesome – the work of an ultimate perfectionist, a true obsessive”, but the response to the controversial cover wasn’t universally positive – it was banned from adverts on British transport.

Read more: The Story Behind The Sleeve #14: Neutral Milk Hotel – In The Aeroplane Over The Sea