This article is a sample from my book, MADONNA IN THE EIGHTIES, available on Amazon...
Dean Gant played synthesizer and piano on the first Madonna album. Here, he recalls his memories of working the young and ambitious Queen in waiting...
Do you remember first hearing about Madonna?
In 1982 when Reggie Lucas called me about doing a new project on “this singer” who had a dance tune that was breaking out in NY.
How did you first meet her? What was she like?
First time was in the recording studio, Sigma Sound. She was very cool and friendly, we hit it off right away.
What are your memories of recording on the first album? What did your job on that record entail?
Kind of a tricky question... I was Reggie Lucas’s go-to keyboardist, arranger, synth guy etc. I was also producing stuff on my own, but Mtume/Lucas were a hot team at the time. So I basically took all the songs and arranged them from demos that Madonna had. My input on some was greater than arranging; for instance Lucky Star, I basically wrote most of the music, (uncredited or paid), but the bridge I totally created and the chord changes. Madonna had the hook line vocal and a 3 note bass line idea.
Did Madonna seem in control and know what she wanted in the studio?
She definitely had her own ideas about what she wanted, but a lot of things weren’t expressed until after we finished and she basically had a disagreement with Reggie. That’s when she brought in Jelly Bean, who changed some of the tracks around, but kept most of the major stuff we did.
Did you enjoy playing on the tracks? Which was the most fun to do?
Yes it was a very enjoyable project, Madonna was a lot of fun, we hung out at different times. Borderline was cool and interesting in that the wonderful bassist Anthony Jackson and I played the bass part simultaneously live in the control room of the studio. Most people don’t know that it is both a synth bass and electric bass. Another fun song was I Know It, for which I came up with a neo-classical synth string intro.
How did you figure out your parts? Did Madonna say what she wanted at all?
I created all of my parts, Madonna never really suggested anything, she like pretty much everything I came up with. We were pretty much in sync.
Do any memories stick out from the recordings?
Yeah, quite a few... Madonna and a male dancer who was around quite a bit, dancing in the studio, really going wild when I put the bass part on Lucky Star; also a girl I was dating who was a model was hanging out and her and Madonna hit it off quite well. Also I went to support her at a live show she had at a club called the Red Parrot, and she was very appreciative of me coming out, as no one else who was working on the project came out to hear her.
How do you look back on the era and working with Madonna?
It was a fun time, a very creative time. We did not have any template for what we did with her. We just created a sound that was dance, R&B, pop and synth heavy, which was my specialty. Again Madonna was great to work with, one of the most fun projects I have ever done. There was no doubt that it was going to be successful, we just didn’t know it was going to blow up like it did.