Deborah Harry invited the Funky 4 + 1 on to SNL for the first televised rap performance


As Blondie went on hiatus, lead singer Deborah Harry appeared on Saturday Night Live as both the host and musical guest. It was Valentine’s Day 1981.

For her first performance, she sang a cover of Teddy Pendergrass’s “Love TKO,” backed by the SNL house band. She then performed a cover of Devo’s “Come Back Jonee,” joined onstage by Blondie guitarist and boyfriend Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke.

“We were on Saturday Night Live,” Stein told Wax Poetics contributing editor Andrew Mason in Issue 60, “and they let us pick a musical guest to be on with us.” He and Harry chose the Funky Four Plus One. “The people on the show were so nervous about them doing it,” he recalled. “I remember trying to explain to them how scratching worked. Trying to verbalize what that is for someone who has no idea, it’s really difficult.” Ultimately, “they wound up going on with a tape.” It was the first time a rap group appeared on national television.

See the Funky Four Plus One (featuring Sha-Rock) at the eleven-minute mark.

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