Forty years ago, Madonna’s first single came out, after her debut with Patrick Hernandez – Evening edition Ouest-France – 10/10/2022

Correspondence, Brice MICLET

Forty years ago, in October 1982, Madonna’s solo career was launched with Everybody, her very first single, while the young American was still working three years earlier as a dancer for Patrick Hernandez. This single will serve as the launch pad for a career and an imagery that have marked the history of modern music until today.

If Madonna has long embodied the American dream, it is because her story is made up of pitfalls, failures, attempts. Louise Ciccone, her real name, is the archetype of the artist who experienced an extraordinary destiny by extricating herself from the galley. In September 1978, the young woman of barely 20 left her native Michigan to try her luck in New York. She arrives with 35 dollars in her pocket, eager to start an artistic career, doing odd jobs in the Times Square district, and takes dance lessons from the famous teacher Pearl Lang.

In 2013, she recounted this period of her life for the magazine Harper’s Bazaar : “New York didn’t look quite like what I had imagined. I was not welcomed there with open arms. The first year, I was held up with a gun. I was raped on the roof of a building, where I was pushed with a knife in my back, and my apartment was broken into three times. »

Meeting with Patrick Hernandez

Tired of the pangs, Madonna decided to try her luck under other skies, and this, from 1979. Her meeting with the director in the making Dan Gilroy, with whom she will have a relationship of several months, pushes her to abandon dance for s to try music. While performing in a club, she attracts the attention of a group of producers who offer to audition her. They work with a French singer still unknown a year earlier, but who has just exploded in Europe thanks to his disco hit Born To Be Alive : Patrick Hernández.

They are looking for dancers to accompany the frontman on stage, to tour, perhaps, all over the world. The singer is also present, the audition begins. “She gives us her little demonstration which is dazzling, remembered Patrick Hernandez in 2018, for the magazine Melody of my life. We ask her to sing, she says: “I don’t know how to sing, it’s not my thing. So we force her a bit and she makes us a version of Jingle Bells very humorous with some dance steps. We find her so spontaneous, brilliant…” If Madonna is interested, she must move to France. She takes the step.

Five little months and then goes away

It’s a funny period that begins then, very little documented, very little told. Madonna arrived in 1979 in Paris in the troupe of Patrick Hernandez. The latter was then in full glory, but the scullery was a little less brilliant: the success of Born To Be Alive is almost an accident, a coup de force carried out by three guys (the singer and two producers) without the support of the major record companies. It’s a box, but all this little world works on a traditional basis.

The dancers are not very well paid, the tour is less grandiloquent than announced, Madonna cannot be satisfied with this work. For five months, she lived between the capital, Lille and Marseille, doing odd jobs as a waitress, dancer, singer… At the same time, her talent was obvious. But even under the insistence of the producers of Patrick Hernandez, she refuses to record an album with them. “This young girl who had a lot of talent, a lot of personality at the time, wanted to do theatre, cinema, or dance, Hernandez continues. But not sing. »

Homesickness, the feeling of being at an impasse… In the summer of 1979, Madonna finally returned to New York to resume her career where she had left off. That is to say at a stage close to breakeven. She finds Dan Gilroy with whom she moves into a disused synagogue and forms with him her first group, Breakfast Club, in which she sings, plays the guitar and sometimes tries the drums. Six months later, she left the training, taking with her Stephen Bray with whom she started a relationship.

Together, they will write the first songs of Madonna’s solo career, including Everybody, which, in October 1982, would become his very first single. And will serve as a launching pad for a discography and an imagery which, even today, remains one of the most impactful in the history of modern music.

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Forty years ago, Madonna’s first single came out, after her debut with Patrick Hernandez – Evening edition Ouest-France – 10/10/2022

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