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The Pre-Madonna Era


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·         The Pre- Madonna Era http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/11688-the-pre-madonna-era/?p=542015

·         The First Album Era http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/11796-the-madonna-first-album-era/?p=547412

·         The Like a Virgin Era http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/12035-the-like-a-virgin-era/?p=557045

·         The True Blue Era http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/12055-the-true-blue-era/?p=557777

·         The Who’s That Girl/You Can Dance Era http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/12085-the-whos-that-girlyou-can-dance-era/?p=558619

·         The Like a Prayer Era http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/12134-the-like-a-prayer-era/?p=560321

·         The Immaculate Breathless Blond Ambition Era http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/12230-the-immaculate-breathless-blond-ambition-era/?p=562946

·         The Erotic Body of Girlie Sex Show Era http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/12452-the-erotic-body-of-girlie-sex-show-era/?p=570519



In 1997, after discovering how extensive Madonna's unreleased back catalogue was, Bruce Baron began researching and writing an article that he would later submit to US 'Goldmine' magazine. Baron got special permission to listen to many of Madonna's rare demo recordings on file at the Library of Congress in Washington. The library contains copies of material registered for copyright, including many Madonna songs that have never been commercially released. However, the library grants few members of the public access to the rare recordings. Security is understandably tight, in fact Baron commented on how was closely watched to ensure that the material wasn't leaked. Baron was also lucky enough to clinch an exclusive interview with early Madonna collaborator, Stephen Bray. Baron's article, "Madonna Unreleased", published in 'Goldmine' magazine was perhaps the first thorough investigation into Madonna's amazing musical heritage.

After the publication of "Madonna Unreleased" in 'Goldmine', Baron emailed Bob Merlis, a Vice-president of publicity at Warner Bros. Merlis was not even aware that Madonna had so many unreleased recordings. Baron's email inspired Merlis to send Madonna a memo requesting the release of a rarities collection, to which she replied "No", via spokesperson Liz Rosenberg. It is understandable that Madonna may not want to release such a collection at this stage of her career. Madonna obviously has a lot more to say musically and I, as a longtime fan, look forward to new Madonna material for many years to come. I still believe that it should be of grave concern to Madonna's record company to try to attempt to preserve her material.

Stephen Bray and Madonna had met at the University of Michigan where he was working as a waiter in a club at Ann Arbor. Bray used to take Madonna on the tours of his band.


After graduating from high school in 1976, Madonna won a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Note: She began studying dance at 14.

During her undergraduate studies at Michigan, Madonna was awarded a six-week scholarship to study with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City.

She moved to New York in 1978. She worked with modern dance troupes, taking classes at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She eventually performed with Pear Lang Dance Theater.

Madonna began dating Dan Gilroy, one of the founding members of a ska influenced pop-punk band called Breakfast Club. She continually auditioned for parts in Broadway shows and movies.

However, it would take a trip to France to give Madonna the confidence to believe that she could be a vocal performer. One of her auditions in early 1979 was for producer Jan Vanloo, who was looking for backing vocalists to tour with "Born To Be Alive" one-hit-wonder, Patrick Hernandez. It was decided to take Madonna back to France, all expenses paid, to make her into a disco star.

After six months, about all that was accomplished was filling Madonna's head with ideas of pop stardom. Collectors have been surprised that no Madonna recordings of any kind have ever surfaced from this period, and there is no evidence to suggest that anything was ever recorded. Madonna eventually became ill, and claimed that she would return-if she could go back home to NY for a few weeks. She left everything in Paris, returned to Gilroy, and never went back to the Hernandez posse.

Back to New York in October 1979, Madonna was cast as the lead character of "Bruna" in the 8mm-cult film, "A Certain Sacrifice".

An outtake of this film recorded Madonna singing the Fifth
Dimension hit "Let The Sunshine In" with other cast members and a short audio clip of this has been circulating on CD in the collector's bootleg market. The film itself contains the ensemble chant, 'Raymond Hall Must Die" and both of these are considered to be some of her earliest recorded performance vocals.

The second portion of "A Certain Sacrifice" was filmed later in November 1981, and in between filming Madonna recorded some bizarre backing vocals for Otto von Wernherr.

Her first crack at pop music came when Dan Gilroy let her play drums in his band, the Breakfast Club. She later became its lead singer. While in the band, she landed a brief job as backup singer and dancer with disco star Patrick ("Born to Be Alive") Hernandez.

Madonna formed several different bands of her own over the next few years, including Madonna & The Sky, The Millionaires and Emmy.

Madonna decided to go solo and hired manager Camille Barbone of Gotham Records to help her get her singing career on track. Camille showed Madonna how to navigate the male-dominated world of the music business, and helped put together a studio band that accentuated the budding star's hip style.

In 1981 she quit the Breakfast Club and, with her former boyfriend Stephen Bra as drummer, formed the band Emmy. The two began writing songs together, and Madonna later decided to market herself as a solo act. The two gained attention in the trendy New York club Danceteria, where the DJ, Mark Kamins, played her tapes.

It was Kamins who took Madonna's demo to Sire Records and produced her first club hit, 1982's "Everybody."


86 early recordings

Download Links:

· http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/1478-threads-index/
· http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/7047-dl-pre-madonna-era/?p=335889
· http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/8502-dl-madonna-gotham-tape-4-wavs/?p=401179
· http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/1608-rq-emmy-and-the-emmysfirst-time-out-off-manhattan/?p=385891
· http://www.madonna-infinity.net/forums/index.php?/topic/1134-dl-madonna-anthology/?p=34664
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The Gilroys' Lost Madonna Tapes [Dan and Ed Gilroy's Private Tapes] (1979)




Audio excerpts were made available by Andrew Morton on The Daily Beast news http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2008/10/20/the-lost-madonna-tapes


The lost tape begins with Madonna and Dan in bed, encouraging him to go running. It then cuts to her speech where Madonna says how she was fortunate to have people like Dan Gilroy who believed in her. Then flashback back 27 years…“I’m going to strangle him,†she joked before breaking out into one of the songs, “Born to be a Dancer.â€

Madonna’s prowess on the drums is on display before moving on to another song, “Over and Over.†While the vocals were crude, there is a raw energy about her early work, culminating in her first song “Tell the Truth†—a “magical moment†for her.

Ed remembers it differently. He believes that the first song she wrote was “Trouble,†which she played during their early gigs as Max’s Kansas City and the now sadly defunct CBGBs on the Lower East Side.


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The Shamrock reel-to-reel Tape (1979) [early recordings]




Madonna's work with The Breakfast Club, Emmy and Stephen Bray are commonly thought to be her earliest recordings. This was until the recent discovery of a 1/4inch reel-to-reel demo tape that came to light at a Sotheby's auction in May 2000. The tape, which eventually sold for approximately $7,700 (US) was given to Karen Bihari by Madonna in the late 1970s early 1980s. Madonna-expert Michael Musto from Village Voice magazine interviewed Karen Bihari for 'After Dark' magazine back in 1978, revealing that Karen was a performer in the New York area around the time Madonna was performing with Emmy. 

The tape comes housed in a box bearing a shamrock logo and the inscription "Shamrock Records". The reel in the battered box is historically significant as it could very well be Madonna's first recorded music. 

The track listing includes the tracks, 'I Got Trouble (Roll Over It)', 'I'm A Hothouse Flower', 'Oh, Oh, The Sky Is Blue', 'Once I Thought It Was Good (Nobody Wants To Be Alone)', 'Simon Says', 'Tell The Truth To Me' and 'Well Well'. The tracks 'Simon Says' and 'I'm A Hothouse Flower' share their titles with tracks recorded by Emmy, though this tape seems to pre-date the Emmy-era. The song's titles also have the abundant use of (brackets) which was a trademark of Madonna's early song writing. The reel is a master tape, which has yet to be duplicated and features Madonna talking over rehearsals and some false starts to some of the songs. Until the lucky owner of the demo decides to share the recordings with the world I guess we will never know the content of this tape.


These early recordings were recorded onto a Shamrock reel-to-reel tape with the help of Dan Gilroy of the band The Breakfast Club. The reel to reel tape is in its original Shamrock recording tape box with 47 mins running time and is accompanied by a digital copy cd of the tape. 'Tell the Truth' was the very first song Madonna ever recorded (with the help of Dan Gilroy of the band The Breakfast Club).


In 2005 Madonna sang the chorus of 'Tell the Truth', during an interview with Parkinson on UK TV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ili-1RAcFOs  [1:44]



·         Tell the Truth

·         Hothouse Flower

·         Simon Says

·         I Got Trouble (Roll Over It)

·         Oh Oh (The Sky Is Blue)

·         Nobody Wants to Be Alone (Once I Thought I Was Good)

·         Well Well


She also discussed writing the song in Rolling Stone magazine (October 2009).



“By 1979, you were living in Queens with Dan and Ed Gilroy, who had a band called the Breakfast Club, which you ended up joining. Around that time, you wrote your first song.
It was called "Tell the Truth." It was maybe four chords, but there were verses and a bridge and a chorus, and it was a religious experience. I had decided that if I was going to be a singer, I had to earn it. I had to learn how to play an instrument…â€

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Acoustic Demo Tapes (1979)


[00-1m30] 01 Shit On The Ground-Safe Neighborhood
[1m31-3m10] 02 Shine A Light
|3m11-4m46] 03 Little Boy

[4m47-8m38] 04 Love Express


This tape originates from the post-Breakfast Club / pre-Emmy period when Madonna was recruiting musicians for her own ensemble. The full story of the tape â€“ remarkable as it is performed almost entirely solo with Madonna playing guitar and singing â€“ appears in the March 2009 issue of UK magazine Record Collector 


and was featured on MSNBC.


·         No Running in the City

·         All My Love 

·         Simon Says https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzDM1LZbfL0 / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTGF1FSF-QQ

·         Shine A Light (introduced as "Hear Me") https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYYyYjelcvI / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwDkfwGv8pQ

·         Little Boy Lost https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SzaWT0X_qM

·         Safe Neighbourhood 


·         Love Express https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=de-ZdmC4nT0  / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcQqjUet6hs

·         three instrumentals

·         two takes of an unknown

·         un-named song. 

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Emmy and the Emmys (1980)

In 1980 Madonna decided to perform lead vocals with her own band called Emmy. Gary Burke played bass (while also playing for Madonna's former group Breakfast Club), Brian Syms played lead guitar, and Madonna's college pal Stephen Bray joined them from Michigan to play drums. I spoke with Bray last March, exclusively for Goldmine. He explained how it all started; "Breakfast Club was always Dan and Ed Gilroy as front men with various back up. Madonna played the drums. Her time (with them in 1979) helped develop her early songwriting skills as well as instruction on guitar, which was later helpful when she formed Emmy. She already had 12-14 songs written when I showed up, and I just had to learn them." The songs from this period have surfaced on the bootleg release "Emmy & The Emmy's Live, First Time Out Of Manhattan". Included are the live tracks "Love For Tender", "No Time For Love", "Bells Ringing", "Drowning", "Are You Ready For It", "Best Girl", "Hot House Flower", "Simon Says", "Nobody's Fool", "Love Express", and one studio version of "Drowning". These songs resemble the punk rock of that period more than the Madonna we have come to know today.


Alternate versions of the Emmy songs and other live cuts have surfaced on various bootleg vinyl and CD releases ("The Early Years") that were not included on the original "Out Of Manhattan" release such as "Remembering Your Touch". "Little Boy", and "Safe Neighborhood" (according to Bray incorrectly called "Shit On The Ground" on bootleg releases). Bray was especially fond of "Shine A Light which he instantly began to sing on the phone when Bruce mentioned the title.


These last three tracks appeared on bootleg vinyl in Europe and are credited as being written by Dan Giorlando. Bray didn't have any idea who that was, or why they would be listed that way. Some have thought that was a misprint for Dan Gilroy, but nobody seems to know for sure. Madonna recorded the lead vocal, and Bray had always thought that Madonna wrote them. The band played many gigs around town, and soon they got serious about producing their first studio quality demo.


On November 30th, 1980 Emmy recorded a four cut studio demo which was later distributed on TDK cassettes around New York. Today they are surfacing on various bootleg CD's. Stephen Bray was asked to describe what he remembered from these songs, and he commented on each this way;


"I Like) Love For Tender" - "Sort of our Byrds thing. Nice song, arrangement was too long though".

"No Time" - "This was a giddy up tempo romp, with drums and rhythm section stuff inspired by the fast playing Police and XTC attitude, but with a pop top. "

"Bells Ringing" - "Our most Psychedelic number I recall, too long again. It had a definite Stone's -ish attitude".

"Drowning" - "The best tune of the moment, I always thought. "




The Emmy demo was recorded on November 30, 1980 at the Music Building on 8th Ave. in New York City, and Bray revealed; "...I believe in room 1002 which belonged to Regina Richards. "Better known as just "Regina", she cracked the American top ten with what was considered to be the first Madonna sound a like hit called "Baby Love" in 1987. It was released as Madonna reached her apex with the "True Blue" album. Apparently Madonna was not amused according to Bray; "Regina Richards is a pro at imitation, she can do it all, and any singers style of voice. Madonna was not too happy with it." Contrary to popular belief, Madonna did not help write this song under another name, and there is no Madonna demo of this song. Bray commented; "She wouldn't do anything unless it had her name on it". His association with Regina also runs deeper. Her husband operates Black Lion Music and holds the publishing for Stephen Bray's compositions. This includes his portion of the publishing he splits with Madonna on their collaborations.


Emmy and the Emmy's studio demo tape in 1980

Madonna's pre-fame post-punk rock band, Emmy, performed the first song of their nine song set, "Best Girl", at the Chase Park Club, New York in July 1980. Audio CD released by an Indie Label in 1994, under the title "Emmy and the Emmys: First Time Out Off Manhattan".


Tracks from the bootleg release "Emmy & The Emmys: First Time Out Of Manhattan".


· Best Girl

· Hothouse Flower

· Bells Ringing

· Simon Says

· No Time for Love

· Nobody’s Fool

· Drowning

· (I Like) Love for Tender

· Love Express

· Don’t You Know

· Drowning

/ [Drowning Studio demo]


Rehearsals recorded by the band.

Burning Up

Love For Tender

Do You? N/A

Hot House Flower N/A


A 4-demo tape recorded by the band in October 30th, 1980.

· Bells Ringing


· Drowning


· Love For Tender


· No Time For Love



· Prisoner

· Head Over Heels

· Get Away

· Call on Me;



Possible early recordings from the Emmys era. Those titles are listed on a hand-written set-list spotted in some pictures of a 1980/1981 live gig, taken by photographer George DuBose. http://www.madonnatribe.com/idol/gdubose.htm


Those pictures are famous among collectors as being related to the Underground Club performance. There is actually no evidence that Madonna recorded those songs on tape, they could be compositions written and intended just for live concerts; some audio-tape from rehearsals (featuring those songs) may or may not exist. The existence of these tracks has been confirmed as being on the actual set-list. Those Underground Club pictures can be seen in a large number of fan sites' photo-galleries http://www.madonnashots.com/0-81-dubose.html & on George DuBose's official site http://www.george-dubose.com/madonna.html



Other Emmy tracks such as "Simon Says" are not included here because they were either live recordings or already legally released on a small indie label. They belong listed on the Madonna discography page. NOTE: A studio version of "Simon Says" is included on the Shamrock Tape.

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The Gotham Demo Tape (1981)

Eventually Emmy disbanded and Madonna moved forward with her first manager Camille Barbone of Gotham Management. She tried to cultivate Madonna into a solo artist in the style of Pat Benetar


Madonna's Gotham management booked session musicians like Jeff Gottlieb, John Kaye, Jack Soni and David Frank to jam with Madonna. The musicians impressed Madonna, especially David Frank, who had played with Rufus and Chaka Khan. Frank penned a song called 'Its Passion', on which Madonna was supposed to supply vocals. Unfortunately Madonna passed on Frank's composition, but would become his groupis (The System) debut release. Frank's partner from The System, Mic (Mike) Murphy, would later contribute to an early 1990s Madonna track entitled 'Dear Father'.

Despite the calibre of the musicians, Madonna still wasn't entirely happy with the line up. She wanted Stephen Bray in the group. Barbone had a strict rule that the band weren't to get romantically involved with Madonna or they were out. Rumour has it that Madonna began dating drummer Bob Riley who was consequently sacked and conveniently replaced by Stephen Bray. Whether she did this purposely to get Bray, the only member of Emmy who she really valued, into the group isn't known for sure. 


Stephen Bray joined the studio band that provided the music to this August 1981 recording session. Madonna 's first solo demo included "Take Me (I Want You)", "Love On The Run", "Get Up", and "High Society (Society's Boy)". Bray made a special point to clear up an inaccuracy in reported Madonna history; " The Gotham tape was recorded at Media Sound, which was NOT Camille's (Gotham Sound) studio. Media Sound was a converted church where Camille got "spec" time with engineer Alec Head and Jon Gordon (he went on to produce Suzanne Vega). Gordon produced and played guitar. (Camille's) Gotham studio was a writing studio only. Bruce doesn't believe anything but "room sound" tapes were made there". This revelation by Bray explains why there are very different studio and rehearsal versions of these songs, which have started to surface in the collectors market.


According to her July 22, 1981 Gotham contract, Madonna was supposed to get $250 for every unreleased master, and $500 for every released master plus a 3% royalty on the retail price of
every record sold. This demo would eventually be circulated and turned down by the likes of Geffen and Atlantic Records. The ownership of the songs recorded during these sessions remained in a legal battle for years when Madonna later signed to Warner Brothers Records.


A Pat Benatar style pop-rock Madonna demo produced under the direction of Madonna's first manager Camille Barbone of August Artists Ltd and Gotham Sound Studios in New York City with guitarist Jon Gordon in 1981. All four of these tracks have leaked on the internet in high quality.


Official 4-demo tape includes:

·         (Take Me) I Want You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkFJ5v_lQLA http://thebeatswithin.blogspot.com/2011/05/during-telephone-call-with-steve-bray.html

·         Love on the Run https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB74FH3J62U  

·         Get Up 

·         High Society https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3zxznHMCvU  



Two more songs were recorded at Media Sound Studios but not used on the 1981 demo circulating at the time:

·         Remembering Your Touch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA9ET4FJqqc

·         Are You Ready For It https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0wEWceaawE  



Demos recorded by Madonna herself and given to Jon Gordon to write the charts and do a band arrangement. Some of these recording were leaked using wrong tags, such as "rehearsals" from Emmy or "outtakes" from Gotham sessions.

  • Are You Ready For It          
  • Take Me (I Want You)           
  • Love On The Run                    
  • Remembering Your Touch       
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The Otto Von Wernherr Collaboration (1981)


The Otto Von Wernherr Tracks (1981)






The second portion of "A Certain Sacrifice" was filmed later in November 1981, and in between filming Madonna recorded some bizarre backing vocals for Otto von Wernherr. These songs were released in 1986 on independent labels after Madonna became a household name, and can be best described as sounding like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show", but not as good.

On "Cosmic Climb", Madonna sings the chorus "Man have you got the time, to make this cosmic climb". "We Are The Gods" features her childlike backing vocals such as: "Oh my god! Mommy, mommy it's the gods!" and "Hail hail the gods are here". "Wild Dancing" sounds a little like the early B-52's with Madonna on the main hook "I'm looking for some wild dancing out on the street, looking for a chance to dance to the beat". Frequent Madonna collaborator Stephen Bray didn't know much about these tunes as he explained; "She never discussed these songs with me, and I have never heard them. They were probably just another job in her mind."
Otto von Wernherr released these recordings in 1986 to cash-in on Madonna's international fame. Madonna had originally supplied backing vocals for von Wernherr's three original songs, 'Cosmic Climb', 'We Are The Gods' and 'Wild Dancing'. The three original Otto and Madonna recordings would have remained an interesting curiosity, had they been left alone. Greed however, encouraged the additional release of several re-sequenced songs that were never meant to exist. 


Madonna's vocals are reminiscent of Betty Boo and her squeaks and yelps are bizarrely juxtaposed with von Wernherr's ghoulish-sounding attempt at rap. As if this wasn't bad enough von Wernherr really scraped the barrel by remixing the tracks and turning them into new compositions, 'Oh My', 'On The Street', 'Time To Dance', 'Give It To Me' and 'Shake'. The resulting effect is dreadful and should be approached with caution. It is hard to really compare these tracks to anything ever recorded by anyone as they really are that bad. This turned many fans off to the original oddities, and to many other early era releases for the fear that they might be more bizarre tunes like "Give It To Me", "Shake", "Time To Dance", "On The Street", and "Oh My".


+Die-hard Madonna fans should check out the three original so-called songs merely for curiosity value and to hear Madonna's original vocals intact. Stephen Bray doesn't recall Madonna mentioning her recording backing vocals with Von Wernherr, "She never discussed these songs with me, and I have never heard them. They were probably just another job in her mind." 

In 1986, when the tracks were released, Otto appeared in a bizarre parody of Madonna's 'Papa Don't Preach' video entitled 'Madonna Don't Preach' with the intent of promoting his bizarre recordings. 

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The Mia Mind Music's Recordings (1981)



Safe Neighborhood", under the erroneous song title of "On The Ground", first surfaced on a 1992 picture disc release in Europe on Receiver Records accompanied by two other songs supposedly from the same sessions: "Shine A Light" and "Little Boy" (actually titled "Little Boy Lost"). These songs were actually licensed from Mia Mind Music, a New York based record label/indie promotions business previously responsible for licensing out the horrible Otto von Wernherr songs that Madonna had sung backup on in her pre-fame days. While it is unclear what the exact arrangement was, it appears likely that Madonna had an agreement with the Mia Mind studio owner that allowed her to record some of her own material in exchange for performing background vocals on other studio clients recordings, thus also explaining the Otto von Wernherr connection. Therefore, most likely these recordings are in fact, the earliest professional solo recordings by Madonna heard to this day and were probably recorded sometime in 1980.  
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Pre-Madonna... [steven Bray] (1981)


Pre-Madonna... Playlist  (1981)



This collection of demos recorded in early 1981 were released by Stephen Bray and distributed by Soultone label in 1997 under the title "Pre-Madonna" ("In The Beginning" for European countries).


Madonna partnered up and started writing songs with her Michigan boyfriend Stephen BrayTogether they started writing songs and recorded them under Gotham Records, in New York's rehearsal studio called the Music Building. The songs recorded included "Ain't No Big Deal", "Laugh to Keep from Crying", "Crimes of Passion" and "Stay". Bray was the producer of these recordings, along with some demos that Madonna had recorded, including "Everybody" and "Burning Up". The latter two songs were accepted for Madonna's self-titled debut album, in a reworked version; however the demos were left with Bray.

·         Ain't No Big Deal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaqtM4VOvRQ

·         Laugh To Keep From Crying ('80 Demo) https://youtu.be/qypS1raC0s0 

·         Crimes of Passion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KB8Ql5h3AI / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3xm-z6HqGU

·         Stay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3hby-MV9Xo

·         Burning Up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hdlhpICJxc / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJczUNOHZFM / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e00zIF0U5V0

·         Everybody https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXmcmvI8MqA


Between 1980 and 1982 Madonna and Bray had been recording their own songs independently  at The Music Building since his arrival in New York and their sessions had become increasingly fruitful. Some of these have appeared on Bray's high quality independent label release "Pre-Madonna" in 1996 and was not authorized by Madonna. However, it's not a bootleg since Bray owns the masters. Today, the remaining CD copies are now available through Bray's Soultone Entertainment web site http://www.soultone.com Featured on the disc are the previously unheard "Laugh To Keep From Crying", "Stay'81" and "Crimes Of Passion". An obvious highlight on this release are the original versions of four songs produced by Madonna and Steve Bray which got Madonna her Warner Brother's contract with Sire Records in late 1982. These are "Ain't No Big Deal", "Everybody", "Burning Up", and "Don't You Know". The release was not authorised by Madonna but it is not a bootleg, as Bray owns the masters. The tracks were recorded before Madonna signed her record contract with Sire so Bray was free to release the album. 

By the time of 'Pre-Madonna's' release in 1996 Stephen Bray hadn't worked with Madonna since 'Like A Prayer' in 1989 and so probably felt that he had nothing to lose in releasing her early demos, especially knowing she wouldn't be too happy about it. Thanks to the release of 'Pre-Madonna' we know more about Madonna's earlier recordings than her more recent sessions, which seem to be a closely guarded secret. Bray has been more willing to talk more than most of Madonna's former collaborators, helping to promote his independent release and providing fans with an insight into Madonna's past. With the exception of some sporadically released B-sides, 'Pre-Madonna' was by far the most interesting look we have had into Madonna's creative process as an artist, until the recent spate of demos that have cropped up on the Internet. Compiled and re-mastered by Bray, 'Pre-Madonna' contains early versions of tracks, which appeared on Madonna's first album, as well as songs that appeared on the demo tape that landed Madonna her record deal with Sire. 

Laugh To Keep From Crying' features Madonna playing her Rickenbacker guitar doing her best Chrissie Hynde impression. In the sleeve notes Stephen Bray comments, "I've always thought she passed up a brilliant career as a rhythm guitarist". Interestingly the track also features Paul Pesco on guitar. Madonna fans would probably know Pesco as lead guitarist from 'The Virgin Tour' and 'The Girlie Show' as well as contributing to the albums 'Madonna' and 'Erotica'. 

The version of 'Crimes Of Passion' that appears on 'Pre-Madonna' is actually a re-mastered version as Bray constructed a new musical track, "to protect the innocent". As Bray also states in the sleeve notes of the CD, this is clearly a prototype of the successful 'Into The Groove' style sound that Bray and Madonna enjoyed huge success with in the late eighties. The other radically re-mastered songs on the album are 'Everybody (97)', which has been remixed in a tropical reggae style, and 'Ain't No Big Deal (97)', which has been given a generic 1990s dance update making it sound in keeping with much of Madonna's 1990s musical output. 

One of the tracks that didn't end up on Madonna's demo that she was touting around record companies and begging DJs to play was 'Burning Up'. Madonna had written and performed 'Burning Up' during her time with Emmy and the song would eventually make it onto her debut album. The version on 'Pre-Madonna' features more guitars and sounds down right dirtier than the Reggie Lucas produced cut that made in onto 'Madonna'. 

Stephen Bray notes this as "The blueprint for the version used on the first album. Featuring more fun with tape speed effects, this version reveals vocal arrangement stuff that didn't make the final cut. Looking back, it seems we nailed a kind of Joan Jett sitting in with New Order kind of sound".


   The remaining songs on 'Pre-Madonna' - 'Ain't No Big Deal', 'Everybody', 'Don't You Know', and 'Stay' - appeared on Madonna's four-track demo tape that secured her record deal with Sire Records. The first track on the tape, 'Ain't No Big Deal', featured an excessively long party section tagged on to the end, which features Madonna's Vocoder sounding vocals. Madonna wasn't lucky enough to have Mirwais on stand by in those days twiddling the knobs a la 'Nobody's Perfect' from 2000's 'Music' album, nor did she and Bray have the money to buy the right equipment. The lack of technology didn't get in Madonna's way though and she simply pinched her nose to get the desired vocal effect. Stephen Bray says a 24-track studio demo of 'Ain't No Big Deal', which is different than the version released on 'Pre-Madonna', is lost.

The next track on the demo tape was 'Everybody', which would eventually become Madonna's first US release. Bray comments in the 'Pre-Madonna' sleeve notes, "The first Sire single was based on this recording, with a few structural changes. Note the rampant experimentation with tape speed and flangers for the various vocal sounds and effects. 

Is it my imagination or is there just a hint of a British accent on the verse vocal?" This was followed by 'Don't You Know', which interestingly features lyrics that would later be interpolated into 'Stay', which would appear on Madonna's sophomore release 'Like A Virgin'. A different version of 'Stay' however appeared as the final cut on the demo. Bray was "trying to make the track sound like a dream". The track appears on 'Pre-Madonna' virtually untouched as the vocals were premixed with the track, "preventing our surgical staff from going in for reconstructive surgery, but the ethereal choir still rings true" claims Bray. 

Stephen Bray has revealed to Bruce Baron that the 'Pre-Madonna' material was recorded on dissolving Ampex analog tape before he had heat-treated the masters to stabilize them. 

Alarmingly, if Bray had not taken it upon himself to do preserve this material, then a vital piece of Madonna's musical history would have been lost forever. During the 1980s many artists recorded onto defective Ampex tape. A chemical flaw in the formulation of analog tape has rendered some tapes largely unplayable today. The tape eventually dissolves if not heat-treated. Although heat-treating does not fix the tape permanently, it allows the transfer of material from the defective tape on to a different medium, for example DAT. 

Imagine the demo of a song, for example 'Crimes Of Passion' or even 'Stay' recorded onto this defective tape. The tape would have eventually dissolved, destroying the recorded material and we simply would not have ever heard these songs. This would have been a travesty and an incredible loss of a vital piece of the history of popular music. There are many other unreleased songs that Madonna has recorded with Stephen Bray. Bray is unable to release these because they were recorded after Madonna signed her deal with Sire Records. These demos, including alternative versions of hit singles such as 'Angel' and unheard songs like 'Working My Fingers To The Bone', would have also been lost forever if Bray wasn't concerned with their preservation. Because Bray has also preserved these, there is a chance we may hear these songs in the future. This is why I stress the importance for Madonna's record label to sit up and take notice. 

If Warner Bros don't attempt to preserve and catalogue these recordings then we could lose important recordings from the most successful female artist of all time. The fact that Bray owns copies of unreleased demos recorded with Madonna makes Bruce question exactly how much other material of Madonna's may have been destroyed by the defective Ampex tape. 


'Pre-Madonna's' importance lies in the fact that the sound pioneered on the release defined Madonna artistically for the most part of the 1980s. 

Madonna would eventually conquer the world with the dance pop sound heard on 'Pre-Madonna'. This dance-pop sound would carve out a career for Madonna that would have more longevity than initially perceived. Bray had planned to follow up the release of 'Pre-Madonna' with another release featuring his collaborations with Madonna throughout the 1980s but for legal reasons hasn't been able to follow this through. 

The web site Soultone.com who sell the 'Pre-Madonna' CD, updated their site in December 2002 with the following message, "From the outset the intention has been to provide the first pages of a musical diary which details a journey of artistic achievement and cultural impact that continues to captivate and entertain millions of fans worldwide. Please continue to visit this page for updates on this collection and possibly, given a change of heart, more early recordings from the vault." The site hadn't been updated for some considerable time so it makes me question whether this unexpected update and, "change of heart", is a sign of more to come from Madonna's collaborations with Stephen Bray. I hope so. 


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The Spinal Root Gang Collaboration (1982)

'We Live In A House'

Another rare demo tape that has recently surfaced from Madonna's pre-fame days is an old TDK SA90 cassette, featuring a song entitled 'We Live In A House'. The tape was another Bruce Baron find, which he traced during his extensive research for his 'Goldmine' magazine article. It was recorded with the group Spinal Root Gang after Madonna's roommate Janice Galloway introduced her to them. Janice Galloway later became the wife of Michael Rosenblatt from Warner Bros. The track is credited to Madonna, Joshua J Braun and Janice Galloway (Mis-spelt on the cassette as "Janis"). Vocals are credited to both Madonna and Braun, however; only Madonna's vocals appear to be audible. 


"We Live in a House", written by Joshua BraunJanis Galloway and Madonna in 1982. US copyright registration # PAu-1-843-482.



The demo is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington and is dated 1982 although curiously it wasn't filed until 1994. The lyrics apparently make a stab at making a statement, but don't quite work, "We live in a house and people just don't care, we live in a house they don't go anywhere". 

A highlight is Madonna screaming, "You can't come into my house", is it really that bad? Stephen Bray revealed to Bruce Baron that has no recollection of Madonna's co-writers. Bray's unfamiliarity with Galloway is odd considering the fact that while Madonna was recording demos with Bray in 1982, she was sharing an apartment with Galloway, her college friend from Ann Arbor. Galloway would also eventually marry Sire Records A&R agent Michael Rosenblatt.

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The Was (Not Was) Collaboration (1982)


Shake Your Head (Let's Go To Bed)





In 1983 Madonna teamed up with producers Don and David Was for what would later become one of her least known recording sessions. Stephen Bray explained to Goldmine how it all happened after he joined Dan Gilroy to reform Breakfast Club; "After Emmy devolved, Breakfast Club hired me to play drums (in 1982). That (lineup) featured Dan and Ed on guitar and Gary on bass. This was the line up that was signed to ZE records (without Madonna) in 1983, and then MCA Records in 1986. (When) we got signed to ZE Records the label's A&R guy paired Madonna up with Was (not Was). They recorded "Shake Your Head (Let's Go To Bed)" for the Was (not Was) album "Born To Laugh At Tornadoes". They later replaced her lead vocal with Ozzy Osbourne for the release of the album (in 1983)". This portion of the lyrics could be considered very Madonna-esque, but the arrangement resembles new wave;
“You can't sue Buddha for liable, You can't re-write the bible,

Shake your head You can't hit homers like Babe Ruth,

Can't put your finger on the truth Shake your head, shake your head,

Shake your head, Let's go to bed†


A few years after the Madonna & Was (not Was) session Don Was explained to an UK newspaper; "We brought her up and she sang really well, but I've always imagined the vocalists as extensions of ourselves, and I couldn't relate to female vocals being our voice". Madonna was thanked in the album credits along with her club DJ boyfriend of the time, Jellybean Benitez. Don and David Was eventually planned the release of a Was (not Was) Greatest Hits collection with resurrected Madonna’s vocals, but she reportedly requested that her vocal not be released. The song was then re-released with a new mix by Tommy Musto and new vocals by Kim Bassinger in Europe in 1992.

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The Jellybean Collaboration (1983)

Sidewalk Talk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DsQ7TdL_-o

Written by Madonna for former producer and boyfriend John "Jellybean" Benitez. The 1983 commercially released version features vocalist Catherine Buchanan on lead vocals and Madonna singing on the chorus and bridge. The original demo version with Madonna on the lead vocal remains unreleased and was produced with Stephen Bray as confirmed by interviews. Stephen Bray does own a copy of this (co-produced by him and not Jellybean), but for now it remains unheard by the public.


Sidewalk Talk [Demo Version] https://unreleasedsaga.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/madonna/

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Other known titles (year Unknown)

To date, these songs have not been released:


·         Afterglo

·         Rock Your Body

·         Girl with Stars in Her Eyes

·         Swing with Me

·         Cherish [different from the song of the same title from the Like A Prayer album released in 1989] http://www.julienslive.com/images/lot/6542/65428_0.jpg

·         A Taste of Your Love


In early 2011 several other previously unknown songs came to light penned by Madonna via handwritten lyric sheets on an auction site. 



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Other known titles (year Unknown)

To date, these songs have not been released:


·         Afterglo

·         Rock Your Body

·         Girl with Stars in Her Eyes

·         Swing with Me

·         Cherish [different from the song of the same title from the Like A Prayer album released in 1989] http://www.julienslive.com/images/lot/6542/65428_0.jpg

·         A Taste of Your Love


In early 2011 several other previously unknown songs came to light penned by Madonna via handwritten lyric sheets on an auction site. 





WOW! I've never seen these pages before! Thanks @@groovyguy!


I am madly in love with the pre-Madonna era. i have great expectations on the forthcoming Emmy documentary.


There is still so much to learn, so much to listen. I love to discover how the flower grew...

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thanks @@groovyguy for such a awesome thread. these are not full HQ just click on for the full size. i would love to know the story with each photo. Sorry if already posted all credit to original person who posted first. No copyright infringement intended. Please delete if not okay post. 




e69caf548981103.jpg 4c7972548981108.jpg 5d678e548981112.jpg e5ff2d548981115.jpg 21df2e548981116.jpg 28bd9b548981118.jpg 8f5c30548981119.jpg 7711b4548981123.jpg fad3ac548981125.jpg 6c72b4548981126.jpg 4b01ec548981128.jpg 6d1571548981129.jpg ca7494548981133.jpg fed2e2548981136.jpg 89fb58548981137.jpg 

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Madonna Looks Back: The Rolling Stone Interview





Growing up in a Detroit suburb, Madonna had her world rocked at age six by the death of her mother. Always an extrovert, Madonna performed for the first time in a junior high talent show, slathered in body paint. She defied her strict father by dropping out of the University of Michigan, where she was studying dance, and moved to New York in 1978, eking out a living as a nude model while performing at clubs like CBGB.


You grew up in Pontiac, outside Detroit, where some of your first musical influences came from going to parties and barbecues in your largely African-American neighborhood. What do you remember?


Motown was everywhere. Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross and the Jackson 5, that's what I grew up on. But when I was in high school we moved to a suburb that was predominantly middle-class and white. There weren't any more house parties, there wasn't music blaring from the house next door. I felt estranged, and that's when I created my own world. That's when I decided I'd be a professional dancer. I became more of an introvert, and I'd sneak out of the house and go to concerts. I was aware of the power of music at that point, not that I could articulate it to anyone.


What were the first shows you saw?


My first concert was David Bowie at Cobo Hall [in Detroit] when I was 15. He had mime artists with him. It was amazing. I wish I could have seen him as Ziggy Stardust. My second show was Elton John, and my third was Bob Marley. Not bad, right?


Not bad at all. Did you drink at the shows?


When I was in high school? No way. I was a geek. I didn't really have a drink until I got divorced the first time [from Sean Penn], when I was 30.


It's interesting to hear you talk about Bowie as an influence.


Because everyone thinks I was born in a disco. My older brothers were in the basement listening to the Who and the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," the Who's "Baba O'Riley."


You performed "Baba O'Riley" at a talent show in seventh grade.


I had my girlfriends paint my body with fluorescent hearts and flowers. I wore a pair of shorts and a midriff top, and I just went mad. I had a strobe light and black light. I'm sure everyone thought I was insane. It was my first time onstage. That was the beginning of my provocative performances, I guess. I just went for it. No girls would talk to me after that, and the boys looked at me weird.


Do you still consider yourself a geek?


I say stuff like "oopsie-daisy." Growing up, I didn't feel cool, I didn't fit into any crowd. "Geek" is not a word anyone uses to describe me, though, except perhaps [Confessions on a Dance Floor producer] Stuart Price, who once said, "You know, you're a nerd at heart, nobody knows it." I took it as a compliment. I'm silly and geeky and nerdy and not cool.


You moved to New York after dropping out of the University of Michigan to become a dancer. How did you transition from dancing to singing?


It was just a question of circumstance. Because I was a dancer, I started going to auditions for musical theater, which forced me to sing. Most of the people auditioning were much more professional than I was — they brought sheet music, and they'd give it to the piano player, and I would just wing it and sing songs I knew from the radio, like an Aretha Franklin song or some other ridiculous embarrassment.


By 1979, you were living in Queens with Dan and Ed Gilroy, who had a band called the Breakfast Club, which you ended up joining. Around that time, you wrote your first song.


It was called "Tell the Truth." It was maybe four chords, but there were verses and a bridge and a chorus, and it was a religious experience. I had decided that if I was going to be a singer, I had to earn it. I had to learn how to play an instrument. We were living in an abandoned synagogue in Queens, and in return for music lessons I modeled for Dan, who was a painter. I was his muse, and he taught me how to play power chords. While they were off at their day jobs, I'd play drums. I learned by listening to Elvis Costello records. Then one day, I wrote a song, and the words just came out of me. I was like, "Who's writing this?" When their drummer quit, I got to be the drummer, and one night at CBGB I begged them to let me sing a song and play guitar. That microphone position was looking more and more inviting.

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Madonna & The Sky


Managed by "Mark", a man whose surname is lost to history, this is the trio formed in 1980 by Madonna & fellow ex-Breakfast Club member (and, briefly, lover) Mike Monahan and Gary Burke. The group played publicly only one time, at an NYC club called Eighties, before Monahan quit. When Madonna's ex, Stephen Bray, arrived in NYC and joined the band, it would come to be known as Emmy.


Source: Encyclopedia Madonnica 2.0

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Madonna's early-'80s rock band following her departure from the Breakfast Club, bearing one of her many nicknames. (Previous names, none apparently lasting, include the Millionaires, Modern Dance and Emmenon or Emanon, the latter of which is "no name" spelled backwards.)

Emmy featured herself, Gary Burke, Stephen Bray and a guitarist named Vinny. Vinny was replaced by Mike Monahan, but he became too busy to keep performing, so Brian Symmes joined. The final incarnation of Emmy became roommates while they were working as a band.


Emmy' most high-profile gigs were at Chase Park in July 1980, Botany Talk House (formally 6th Ave. and27th St., NY, NY) in December 1980, and Max's Kansas City (formally 213 Park Ave. S., NY , NY) in March 1981. After its Max's Kansas City gig, Madonna took on Camille Barbone to manage her as a solo artist.


A sample nine-song Emmy set list was typically "Best Girl," "Hothouse Flower," "Bells Ringing," "Simon Says," "Nobody's Fool," "No Time for Love," "Drowning," "Love for Tender," and "Love Express," all officially unreleased. The band's December 1980 gig at Botany House was recorded and commercialized as a bootleg called Emmy & The Emmys: First Time Out of Manhattan (1994).


Source: Encyclopedia Madonnica 2.0

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