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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 07:37 GMT 08:37 UK
Madonna: Queen of reinvention
Madonna at the Grammy Awards in 2004
Madonna has laughed off all suggestions of retirement
Pop star Madonna, who begins her world tour on Monday in LA, had her first UK hit 20 years ago. BBC News Online looks back at her career.

Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, was born in Bay City, Michigan, US, on 16 August 1958.

After her mother died of breast cancer, Madonna's car engineer father raised his six children himself - the hard way.

A strict Catholic disciplinarian, he reportedly refused even to let his kids watch TV.

Mr Ciccone famously disapproved of Madonna's later reinventions, particularly when her 1989 Like a Prayer video, with its burning crosses, brought condemnation from the Vatican.

Madonna in the early 1980s
Madonna was always one step ahead in the fashion stakes

Dance was her first love and she went to New York to study with choreographer Alvin Ailey in 1978, taking dubious modelling jobs to pay the bills.

After a spell in France with disco star Patrick Hernandez, she played drums and sang with the two bands called Breakfast Club and Emmy.

She began to bleach her dark hair and modelled herself on sirens like Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich at their most provocative.

The material girl was born - and she had her first mainstream pop success with Holiday in 1984.

Fashion icon

Thanks to Madonna, the 80s became a time when a huge diamante cross could be worn with a bra and bangles.

A stream of catchy hits like Crazy For You, Into The Groove and Dress You Up, all coupled with headline-grabbing videos marked her out as not just a star but one with a brilliant knack for publicity.

Her screen career, however, was less meteoric.

Guy Ritchie and Madonna
Madonna was apparently introduced to her second husband by Sting's wife, Trudie Styler

The forgettable thriller A Certain Sacrifice was released in 1979 and sank without a trace.

Desperately Seeking Susan, co-starring Rosanna Arquette came out in 1985 and was very successful, but Shanghai Surprise, which she made with her now former husband, actor Sean Penn, did not do as well.

The couple divorced in 1989.

But her portrayal of Argentine heroine Eva Peron in 1996 won her a Golden Globe.

By the 90s, Madonna's reputation as a strong businesswoman, in control of her own career, was firmly established.

She deftly managed the release of yet more hits like Vogue and Justify My Love, but also produced books like the graphically erotic photo book Sex and the controversial documentary In Bed With Madonna.

She turned a corner in 1994 with Bedtime Stories, a song co-written with Björk.

By 1997 she had the critics eating out of her hand with the William Orbit-produced Ray of Light.

Madonna during her last world tour in 2001
Madonna last completed a world tour three years ago

Her next album Music confirmed that the days when Madonna was dismissed as pop fluff were well and truly over.

Her personal life was also not standing still. She had her first child, Lourdes, with fitness trainer Carlos Leon in 1996.

Four years later she had met and had a child with British director Guy Ritchie - famous for Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Their son, Rocco, born in August 2000.


Madonna and Ritchie set up home in London and in December 2000 had a country wedding in Scotland, managing to avoid press intrusion on their private ceremony.

Shortly before there had been a private baptism for their son at Dornoch Cathedral.

But anyone who thought that Madonna would now reinvent herself as a stay-at-home wife was soon confounded.

On 9 June 2001 Madonna started her Drowned World tour in Barcelona.

Britney Spears (left) on stage with Madonna (right) at the MTV Music Awards in 2003

Critics called it the most spectacular stage show of her career, featuring giant screens, dancers, high wire stunts, an oversized bed and a mechanical bull.

Her greatest hits album was bought by thousands of fans after its release in 2001.

But the versatile star has had mixed fortunes in both her singing and acting career since then.

Her performance in West End play Up For Grabs in 2002 received a lukewarm reception but that was nothing compared to the onslaught she faced for her lead role in romance movie Swept Away.

Directed by her husband, the film earned five Razzies, the Hollywood "awards" for the worst in film.

Still controversial

Her most recent album, American Life, received mixed reviews compared with Music, and the record's title track failed to make it to number one in the UK.

Her record label Maverick has also lost $66m (£37m) since 1999, according to recent court documents filed by its parent company Warner Music.

But another creative outlet has proved more successful - her first self-penned children's book, English Roses, has sold over 500,000 copies since it was published in September.

And the 45-year-old is still keeping up with the younger generation, performing guest vocals on Britney Spears' number one single Me Against the Music at the end of last year.

The pair also caused controversy with their open-mouthed kiss while performing together at 2003's MTV Music Awards.

Currently locked in a land row over whether ramblers should be allowed on to her £9m Wiltshire estate, the Queen of Pop does not look ready to relinquish her share of the limelight.


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