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c. 1978

Madonna before ‘Madonna’

Before she became the 'Queen of Pop'

American singer Madonna, New York City, Autumn 1978. She has recently moved to New York City to study dance. (Photo by Michael McDonnell/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Believe it or not, Madonna celebrated (we assume) her 60th birthday last year. In just about six years time, she will have reached her Social Security retirement age and can, should she wish to, claim her full benefit.

Maybe she won’t get round to it. After more than 40 years of work, she has sold over than 300 million records. Which means, just for the avoidance of doubt, she is the best-selling female recording artist in history.

But let’s go back to the very beginning of her career – these pictures were taken in 1978. 

Earlier that year, a 20-year-old Madonna Ciccone (yes, her real name) had excused herself from a dance scholarship at the University of Michigan, moved to Manhattan, and got herself a job at Dunkin’ Donuts.

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When she wasn’t selling sugary rings of batter, she was out meeting musicians and getting herself onstage whenever possible as a backing singer and dancer…

It’s a cliché, but she had – has – star quality.  It’s very obviously there in these pictures, where she often looks far older and knowing than a typical 20 year old.

And that quality is certainly still active today, more than four decades later, as she prepares to release her 14th album.

1978
Jeff Hochberg / Getty Images
1978
Jeff Hochberg / Getty Images
1978
Michael McDonnell / Hulton Archive Photos / Getty Images
1978
Michael McDonnell / Hulton Archive Photos / Getty Images
1978
Michael McDonnell / Hulton Archive Photos / Getty Images
1978
Michael McDonnell / Hulton Archive Photos / Getty Images
1978
Michael McDonnell / Hulton Archive Photos / Getty Images
1978
Michael McDonnell / Hulton Archive Photos / Getty Images
1978
Michael McDonnell / Hulton Archive Photos / Getty Images
1978
Michael McDonnell / Hulton Archive Photos / Getty Images
1978
Michael McDonnell / Hulton Archive Photos / Getty Images
1978
Michael McDonnell / Hulton Archive Photos / Getty Images

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