Steel Life Portrait: Day the leadmill missed out on Material Girl Madonna

Madonna could have kicked off her career in Sheffield
Madonna could have kicked off her career in Sheffield
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The fun part of this job is that each and every day, you discover something new.

As a relative newcomer to daily life in Sheffield and in this role, I keep discovering fascinating snippets relating to the city’s history.

Greasy chip butty in one hand, can of Stones in the other

There’s a few I’ve heard before – Diego Maradona’s potential transfer to Sheffield United, a row between MPs about Henderson’s Relish and Sheffield’s legendary hidden underground tunnels – more on those another time.

But one I hadn’t heard is that in the ’80s (go on, you remember them, all bad dress sense and big hair) Sheffield missed out on the first UK date by a singer by the name of Madonna.

You may have heard of her. She’s had the odd hit record here and there, a few albums, a few gigs, kinda thing. Last seen being pulled off stage by her cape at the Brit Awards.

Well, in 1983, the young up-and-coming American singer, yet to make an impact on these shores with her saucy corsets, provocative image and risque lyrics about virgins being touched for the very first time, was wanted to play at Sheffield’s very own Leadmill.

Madge, Louise Ciccone, whatever you want to call her, she could have been striding down Leadmill Road, exactly 34 years ago, greasy chip butty in one hand, can of Stones in the other, turning up at the door and announcing “Nah den, lad, ah’m here for this theer gig tha’ wants me to play.”

But it never happened. At the last minute, after a disagreement about money, bosses pulled the show.

And thus, Madonna went across the Pennines to play the Hacienda in Manchester instead.

And the rest, as they always say, is history.

But it set me thinking.

Are there any other big name music stars who could have played the city but didn’t? Were U2 once turned down for a show at Shiregreen WMC? Did Justin Bieber turn his nose up at a spot at the Mulberry Tavern? Perhaps Oasis once turned down the chance to knock out a few tunes in the back room of the Brown Bear.

I’ll delve into the archives and get back to you with the findings.