b. Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, 16 August 1958, Rochester Michigan, USA. Madonna 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 Steve Bray. Together, Madonna and Bray created dance 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 dance scene into mainstream pop with 'Holiday', written and produced by John 'Jellybean' Benitez. It reached the US Top 20 and was a Top 10 hit across Europe in 1984. By 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. It was the first of ten US number 1 hits for Madonna. Among these was 'Material Girl', the video for which introduced one of her most characteristic visual styles, the mimicking of Marilyn Monroe's 'blonde bombshell' image. By the time of the Live Aid concert, at which she appeared, and her high-profile wedding to actor Sean Penn, 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.
From 1985-87, she turned out a stream of irresistibly catchy hit singles. 'Crazy For You' was co-written by ex- Carpenters collaborator John Bettis, while she and Steve Bray wrote 'Into The Groove'. These were followed by 'Dress You Up' and 'Papa Don't Preach', with its message of generational rebellion. 'True Blue', 'Open Your Heart' and 'La Isla Bonita' were later successes. Like an increasing number of her songs, 'Who's That Girl' (1987) was tied-in to a film - in this instance, a poorly received comedy in which she starred with Sir John Mills.
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