Perhaps one of the most iconic musical figures of all time, Madonna Louise Ciccone was born in Michigan in 1958, moving to New York City in 1977, hell bent on pursuing her dream of becoming a singer. After a few years performing dancing and back-up singer duties both in the studio and on tour with other artists, she formed a couple of groups, usually with her then-boyfriends, before she was noticed by Sire Records, with whom she signed a deal in 1982. Her debut single, “Everybody”, was a dance hit, but Madonna didn't like the production of the ensuing, self-titled album, and got her boyfriend, Jellybean Benitez, to remix it. From it, came the singles, “Holiday”, “Borderline” and “Lucky Star”, and the style of her music videos began to influence a whole generation of teenage girls.
Her second album, Like A Virgin (1984), carried on the dance-pop sound, and the risque connotations of her imaging began to cause controversy, with conservative Americans concerned that Madonna was exacting an unholy influence on the country's impressionable youngsters. All this only increased interest in her, and she went on to have hit after hit, including “Into The Groove”, “Crazy For You” and “Material Girl”. Madonna made her film debut in Vision Quest in 1985, but really came to the fore with a sizeable role in Desperately Seeking Susan. Around the same time, she married actor, Sean Penn, and also embarked on her first headline tour of North America. Controversy followed her constantly, everything from Playboy publishing old nude photos, to allegations of drug-taking, plus the break-up of her marriage to Penn in 1987 and the consequent stream of well-known boyfriends, including Warren Beatty, Nick Kamen and Lenny Kravitz.
Her 1989 album, Like A Prayer, was condemned as 'blasphemous' by several church groups, particularly outraged by the video for the title track, which featured a black Jesus and a sexually provocative Madonna. The album gave her more hits, another world tour, and sparked more film performances, notably in Dick Tracy (1990), as Breathless Mahoney, opposite then-lover, Beatty. Other film appearances include A League of Their Own (1992), Body Of Evidence (1993) and Evita (1996), as well as albums The Immaculate Collection (1990), Erotica (1992) and Bedtime Stories (1994). In 1996, she gave birth to her first child, Lourdes, by boyfriend, Carlos Leon, and two years later launched a 'comeback' album, Ray of Light, which was radically different from anything she'd done before, and has drawn comparison with U2's own early 1990s rebirth with Achtung Baby. It spawned the hit singles, “Frozen” and the title track. In 2000, she released Music, which hit No.1 in 20 countries, and the same year she also married film director boyfriend, Guy Ritchie, in a lavish ceremony at Skibo Castle in Scotland. Their son, Rocco, had been born a couple of months earlier.
She played the Drowned World tour 2001, sang the theme song to Bond film, Die Another Day, in 2002, and began writing children's books in 2003. Confessions On A Dance Floor (2005) marked a return to her classic pop sound, which she also backed with a tour the year after. Hard Candy (2008) was more R&B, but gave her enough hit singles to push her past Elvis as the most successful chart act of all time. Madonna divorced Guy Ritchie the same year, then in 2010, she directed her second film, W.E., about the affair between Wallis Simpson and the future King Edward VIII.
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