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Madonna at Live 8
Madonna Ciccone Ritchie (born Madonna Louise Ciccone
in Bay City, Michigan, August 16, 1958), simply known by the stage name
Madonna, is an American singer frequently referred to as the Queen of
Pop music. Also an actress, author, activist, diva, pop cultural and fashion
icon, many consider Madonna to be one of the most iconic and influential
figures of the late 20th century.
She was raised in a large, devout Catholic Italian American and French
Canadian family in the Detroit suburb of Rochester. Madonna's mother died
of cancer when Madonna was five years old. She took classes in piano and
ballet, and was an active participant in a variety of artistic activities
at school. She received a dance scholarship and attended the University
of Michigan for two years but quit and moved to the Corona, Queens district
of New York in 1978 to pursue dance and acting professionally. During
this period she danced with several minor modern dance companies, including
Ailey II and the Walter Nicks dancers. She appeared in a short film called
A Certain Sacrifice and joined several punk-pop bands including Breakfast
Club and Emmy. She eventually penned a number of songs that brought her
local fame in gay dance clubs such as Danceteria.
Madonna scored her first recording deal in 1982 while sitting on the corner
of the bed of an ailing Sire Records music executive. Her demo song, "Ain't
No Big Deal", was written by frequent Madonna collaborator Stephen
Bray, and was shelved for several years since it had just been recorded
and released by the Epic Records group Barracuda. Five years later, Madonna's
version finally surfaced on the B-side of the "True Blue" single,
though it has never appeared on any of her albums.
Her first single "Everybody" produced by Mark Kamins was released
without her photo on the jacket. This led many listeners to believe that
she was, in fact, black. Thanks to the advent of MTV, however, her label
was able to aggressively market Madonna's image. A playful and sexy combination
of punk and pop culture, Madonna became a quick fixture on the network.
Her bleached blonde hair (with black roots), sexy lace gloves, lingerie
on the outside and "Boy Toy" belt buckle were soon all the rage
in malls and schoolyards across America.
In 1983 her self-titled debut album Madonna was released, and the first
hit "Holiday" topped the charts around the world. Other hit
singles included "Borderline" and "Lucky Star". The
album was a smash hit, and catapulted Madonna into instant stardom. Former
boyfriend/producer and remixer DJ John 'Jellybean' Benitez was instrumental
at this time of her career. The hit club track "Burning Up"
was remixed for release in the UK by DJ Rusty Egan (formerly of the new
romantic group Visage).
In 1984 she followed her debut with Like a Virgin. The album's provocative
subject matter (especially the title track) was praised by reviewers and
fans. She aroused further controversy when she appeared at the MTV Video
Music Awards singing "Like A Virgin" in a combination wedding
dress/bustier, writhing on the floor and revealing her underwear. The
track topped the US charts for six weeks. The album also spawned three
Top 5 hits: "Angel" (#5), "Dress You Up" (#5), and
her signature song, "Material Girl" (#2). (The "Material
Girl" moniker would stay with her for good.)
Madonna's rapid ascent into the firmament of pop stardom paved the way
for her transition to Hollywood. In 1985 she made a brief appearance in
the film Vision Quest playing a club singer. The title song of the movie,
"Crazy For You" became her second number one hit and earned
her first Grammy nomination. She also played a supporting role alongside
Rosanna Arquette in the hit film Desperately Seeking Susan, for which
she received good reviews. Her acting generally received negative reviews
for the following seven years.
On her 27th birthday (August 16, 1985) Madonna married actor Sean Penn.
She appeared with him in the 1986 flop Shanghai Surprise, which was unanimously
panned by critics. The couple soon earned a reputation for hostility towards
the media, thanks to Penn's frequently violent outbursts against the paparazzi.
Later in the year Madonna released her third hit album, True Blue. She
co-produced the album with Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard. This included
the hits "Open Your Heart" (accompanied by a video in which
she played a stripper who befriends a young boy), "True Blue"
(which was the song chosen for an MTV amateur video-making contest), "Live
To Tell", "La Isla Bonita" (accompanied by a video in which
she played a Spanish woman, the first introduction to the public of her
apparent fetish for Latino culture) and "Papa Don't Preach",
an anthem about keeping a baby conceived out of wedlock. The song "Each
Time You Break My Heart" which was written during the recording sessions
for this album was donated to actor/model Nick Kamen to record on his
debut record. It does not appear on True Blue. next
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