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Steve Barron: 'Madonna, f**k that's a hard word to yell....'

Steve Barron, who directed Michael Jackson's Billie Jean video (and Madonna's Burning Up video), talks to Rupert Hawksley of the Daily Telegraph about working with the Eighties' biggest music artists and his new memoir, Egg n Chips & Billie Jean: a Trip Through the Eighties.

Here is an excerpt from the book of how he got the directing job for Burning Up and how he met Madonna for the first time:

No, I'm not going to New York on my own to meet some blonde chick called Madonna who Warners think is going to be massive, even if they are stumping up a bit more cash than usual for a first time artist.

"Come on. You managed to drag yourself out in front of the Nolan Sisters," Simon chortles. "I promised Warners you'd at least meet her. Then if you don't like we can wriggle out of it. She's a very cool dancer apparently."

I can't believe he's promised them. I'm on holiday.

"Oh, she's been practising in front of the mirror then?" It might be enough of the sarcy cynicism. Starting to hear myself whining.

"Actually, she saw the MJ video and she thought it was genius and she really wants to meet you."

"Yeah, well, I'm on holiday."

F---ing annoying. What am I doing here? Where is this bleeding apartment block? How did I agree to this? I'm burning up alright! That biting wind is bouncing off those stone Soho buildings right into my grumpy face. What number was it? That doesn't make sense. Where's the number on that building then?

This must be it. Smelly corridor. Crapped-out lift. Where's the penthouse suite then? There's seventeen buttons of floors but not a dicky bird about 'the penthouse suite'. How would she have a penthouse suite anyway? Nobody knows her from Adam.

Maybe a rich boyfriend? Maybe just rich. Never mind, you're here. Must be on the 17th floor then.

Ping.

Woah.

The 17th floor looks derelict. This can't be right; there's masonry and s--t all over the floor. Oh, look. Now I get it. There's a paper plate taped to the flaking wall with an arrow pointing up the crumbling staircase, which says 'Penthouse Suite' in biro. Penthouse Squat is what it'd say if it was being truthful.

Climb those stairs. And more stairs. And what's that thumping sound? And more stairs. And that music is pumping out up there. Dance music. That's f---ing loud. Now I'm out of breath in front of an apartment door with no bell and no knocker and nothing but another paper plate with 'Penthouse Suite' in blue biro stuck to it.

"Hello?"

Loud music.

Louder: "Helllooo?"

'Hello' isn't working. Door doesn't even shut properly. A hole where a latch might have been. I can push it open. A sort of kitchen area on the right. A couple of very grungy pots and pans by an old stove that's caked in many years of grime. There's not a stitch of furniture in the place.

"Hello?" is still being smothered by boom boom boom coming from down a narrow corridor with a very worn carpet. Is this a wind-up? She knew I was coming. She knew what time. I'm walking along the corridor. Another door. The source of the loud. Even this door has the inviting sliver of slightly open. I'm going to try shouting again. The music is deafening but I can't just walk in, can I?

I mean, this must be the bedroom.

"Hello? M – M – Ma – donna?"

F--k, that's a hard word to yell. That just doesn't feel like a name. It's feels like a thing. Or a feeling.

Or a phenomenon.

To read the rest of the article (scroll to the bottom of the page for the full Madonna excerpt) visit: www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/rockandpopfeatures

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