Madonna Louis Ciccone was born in Bay City, Michigan, in 1958. One of six children, Madonna learned, at an early age, about responsibility and being strong, when her mother died of breast cancer at the age of 30 in 1963.
Madonna attended the University of Michigan on a dance scholarship. In 1977, Madonna dropped out of college and, with only thirty-five dollars in her pocket, she headed for New York City. She worked as a waitress at a Dunkin’ Donuts and with some dance troupes.
In 1979, she founded her first rock band, The Breakfast Club, where she sang, played drums and guitar. In 1980, Madonna founded the band, Emmy, with drummer Stephen Bray. The music of Emmy came to attention of Sire Records founder, Seymour Stein, who signed Madonna to a contract and released her first single, “Everybody” in 1982 which didn’t crack Billboard’s Top 100 chart. Neither did her second single, “Burning Up.” But her third single, “Holiday” went Top 20 and there was no looking back.
On the charts, as of this date, Madonna has made it to Billboard’s Weekly Top 40 Charts 48 times and she’s topped the charts 13 times, placing her third behind The Beatles (20) and Elvis Presley (18) with the most number one singles.
Here’s a look at Madonna’s twenty biggest hits, according to Billboard’s Weekly Top 40 Charts:
1. Take A Bow – 1995
Madonna’s biggest single topped the charts for seven weeks, was co-written by Babyface and came from her album “Bedtime Stories.”
2. Like A Virgin – 1984
Her first number one single caused much controversy, but Madonna maintains that the title is ambiguous and that she was singing about how something made her feel a certain way, fresh and brand new.
3. Vogue – 1990
From the “Dick Tracy Soundtrack”, as was the follow up single, “Hanky Panky” which went Top 10.
4. Like A Prayer – 1989
Pepsi Cola paid Madonna five million dollars to appear in a commercial debuting the single, but after Pepsi viewed the controversial spot, they pulled the commercial after only two showings.
5. Music – 2000
From her eighth studio album, Madonna received two Grammy nominations for this single.
6. Papa Don’t Preach – 1986
Another controversial song, this one, from her “True Blue” album, deals with teen pregnancy and abortion.
7. Justify My Love – 1991
Controversy surrounded the music video of this song, from “The Immaculate Collection” album, which was sexually explicit and banned by MTV.
8. Crazy For You – 1985
From the film “Vision Quest” starring Matthew Modine.
9. Open Your Heart – 1987
Originally titled “Follow Your Heart” and written for Cyndi Lauper, this song also came from the “True Blue” album, which garnered three number one singles.
10. Live To Tell – 1986
From the film “At Close Range” starring her husband at the time, Sean Penn.
11. Who’s That Girl – 1987
From the film of the same title starring Madonna.
12. This Used To Be My Playground – 1992
More Madonna movie music, this time from “A League Of Their Own”, she has never performed this song in any of her concerts.
13. I’ll Remember – 1994
The theme from the film “With Honors” this song received a Grammy Award nomination and a nomination for a Golden Globe.
14. Causing A Commotion – 1987
Also from the “Who’s That Girl” album and movie, Madonna wrote this song which was inspired by the abusive and violent nature of her husband, Sean Penn.
15. Material Girl – 1985
The only other single from the “Like A Virgin” album, this song has also been covered by Brittany Spears and Hilary Duff.
16. Cherish – 1989
The third of four singles to go top 20 from the “Like A Prayer” album.
17. Express Yourself – 1989
Also from the “Like A Prayer” album, the music video of this song cost five million to dollars to produce, making it the most expensive music video at the time.
18. Frozen – 1998
From the “Ray Of Light” album, the music video was shot in the Mojave Desert. The song was also pulled from Belgian radio and TV stations after a judge ruled that the first four bars of the song were plagiarized.
19. True Blue – 1986
The title cut from her third studio album, this was another song, written by Madonna, reflecting her feelings for husband Sean Penn.
20. Erotica – 1992
More controversy, this time, because of it’s sexually suggestive lyrics, Madonna was banned from The Vatican and the album, “Erotica”, was banned in Lebanon.
Madonna furthered her career as an actress by appearing in the films, “Desperately Seeking Susan”, “Shanghai Surprise”, “Bloodhounds Of Broadway”, “Dick Tracy”, “A League Of Their Own”, “The Next Best Thing” among others. She also gained critical acclaim with her portrayal of Evita Peron in the film version, “Evita.” Madonna also appeared on Broadway in “Speed The Plow.”
Always controversial, always reinventing herself, Madonna has been named the world’s top-selling female recording artist and most successful female recording artist of all time, according to the Guinness World Records. Billboard has ranked her as the most successful solo artist and on the Billboard’s Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists list released in 2008, she came in second, behind The Beatles.
In 2008, in her first year of eligibility, Madonna was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
Still recording and touring, Madonna continues to never disappoint her fans worldwide.