Madonna Louise Ciccone, 16 August 1958,
Bay City, Michigan, USA. An icon for female pop stars thanks to her proven ability
to reinvent herself while retaining complete control of her career, Madonna is
also one of the most commercially successful artists in the history of popular
music. Without doubt an artist with "star quality", no other female
singer in the pop arena has been as prominent or as successful over such a long
The young Madonna Louise
Ciccone excelled at dance and drama at high school and during brief periods at
colleges in Michigan and North Carolina. In 1977, she went to New York, studying
with noted choreographer Alvin Ailey and taking modelling jobs. Two years later,
Madonna moved to France to join a show featuring disco singer Patrick Hernandez.
There she met Dan Gilroy and, back in New York, the pair formed club band the
Breakfast Club. Madonna played drums and sang with the band before setting up
Emmy in 1980 with Detroit-born drummer and former boyfriend, Steve Bray. Together,
Madonna and Bray created club tracks which led to a recording deal with Sire Records.
With leading New York disc jockey Mark Kamins producing, she recorded "Everybody",
a US club hit in 1982. Madonna broke out from the disco scene into mainstream
pop with "Holiday", written and produced by Jellybean. It reached the
US Top 20 in late 1983 and was a Top 10 hit across Europe the following year.
now, her tough, raunchy persona was coming across to international audiences and
the attitude was underlined by the choice of Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg's catchy
"Like A Virgin" as a 1984 single. The track provided the singer with
the first of her subsequent 11 US number 1s. The follow-up, "Material Girl",
included a promotional video which introduced one of Madonna's most characteristic
visual styles, the mimicking of Marilyn Monroe's "blonde bombshell' image.
By the time of her appearance at 1985"s Live Aid concert and her high-profile
wedding to actor Sean Penn on 16 August the same year, Madonna had become an internationally
recognized superstar, known to millions of tabloid newspaper readers without any
interest in her music. Among the fans of her work were a growing number of "wannabees",
teenage girls who aped her independent and don't-care stance.