Diva Drums

As one who considers himself an “authority on nothing” I sometimes surprise myself while discovering some unknown tidbit from the annals of history. Often it is a far too neglected factoid that has slipped through the cracks. Once revealed it can change the outlook on an event or individual. This is one such instance…

I’m a big fan of 80’s music. That includes new wave and pop. One local radio station here in Fredericksburg specializes in that genre. Yesterday I was chilling in my pool listening to the radio when a catchy song titled Right on Track came on. The band that produced that tune was (or perhaps “is” if they are still together) The Breakfast Club. At the end of the song the DJ made a passing comment that Madonna had previously been the drummer for the band. Hearing that remark I took a double take. What? I asked myself. I was aware that Madonna had worked with some of the best drummers in the business to include Tony Thompson (in the studio) and Jonathan Moffett (on tour) but I was not aware that she had sat behind the kit.

This prompted me to get out of the pool and in front of my laptop. I did some research and was able to find a few facts on the subject. In the late ’70s, Madonna met and dated musician/singer Dan Gilroy and his guitarist brother Ed, and the trio formed a band called The Breakfast Club. Gilroy taught her to play guitar, drums and keyboard. A woman named Angie Schmidt played bass, and Madonna played the drums in the band until she reportedly expressed her desire to be the lead vocalist. When they started getting gigs at legendary rock club CBGB’s, she would beg to get up and sing one song. I was able to find a rare 1979 recording of the band on YouTube and a photograph of the band (above). Drums are a major part of Madonna’s music from the sharp groove of Material Girl to the driving dance beat of Vogue. One can only wonder if her background as a drummer, albeit brief, influenced her sound years later.

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