On This Day is a new regular series dedicated to great moments in music history.
26 years ago this week, Madonna scored her first UK No.1 single with ‘Into The Groove’. It was the first in a run of an astounding 13 chart-toppers for the singer. These have included templates of hardy, pop perfection (‘Like A Prayer’, ‘Papa Don’t Preach’), forward thinking, experiments in the genre (‘Vogue’, ‘Frozen’) and massively misjudged Don Mclean covers featuring Rupert Everett on backing vocals (‘American Pie’).
But has she ever topped ‘Into The Groove’?
According to legend, the track was written for Cheyne (the protegee of ‘Everybody’ producer Mark Kamins) by Madonna and 80s songwriting mainstay Stephen Bray. It may have been inspired by a rather inconsequential fling, but the theme of ‘the freedom of the dancefloor’ was something she’d return to throughout her career.
“The dance floor was quite a magical place for me,” she said about the track “I started off wanting to be a dancer, so that had a lot to do with the song. The freedom that I always feel when I’m dancing, that feeling of inhabiting your body, letting yourself go, expressing yourself through music. I always thought of it as a magical place – even if you’re not taking ecstasy. Hence that came to me as the primary inspiration for ‘Into the Groove'”
(1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time and the Artists, Stories and Secrets Behind Them)
Having wisely decided that the track was too good to give away, she kept it for herself. Released as the first wave of Madonna-mania hit (when “Wanna Be”‘s didn’t refer to a Spice Girls song), it topped the charts and remains her biggest selling single in the UK (850,000 copies sold, fact fans).
With its rudimentary opening chords, elemental lyrics and pure vocal delivery, it marked the beginning of the end of early period Madonna: the nascent New York runaway. In a couple of singles time she’d return sleek, shorn of hair with a more sophisticated sound to match with ‘Papa Don’t Preach’. However, ‘Into The Groove’ remains, along with ‘Borderline’ and ‘Crazy For You’, an early Madonna classic.
Also on this day:
1963 – The Beatles played their last ever performance at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
1971 – Paul McCartney announced the formation of his new group Wings with his wife Linda and former Moody Blues guitarist and singer Denny Laine.
2006 – Arthur Lee, singer and guitarist of the influential 1960s band Love died in Memphis