It’s 40 years since Madonna began scandalising and delighting fans and critics around the world. But is she still misunderstood? With Mary Gabriel
She’s an enduring global superstar, with 330m albums sold worldwide. And she has just begun the US leg of her first greatest hits tour, celebrating 40 years in the industry. It’s hard to think of anyone who is as overexposed as Madonna – but, says her biographer Mary Gabriel, fundamental misconceptions about her remain.
Critics accuse her of being a cultural vampire, insisting it is ambition, not talent, that has powered her career. Instead, Gabriel argues, to really understand Madonna’s career you need to understand the New York club scene that fostered her talent. From Andy Warhol to the Beastie Boys and Jean-Michel Basquiat, it was a community that was intent on breaking taboos and boundaries, and the Material Girl, she believes, has never lost that sensibility.