In the TV show Madonna, played by Jacinta Stapleton, was shocked when Meldrum abruptly ended their first interview in New York — he took a phone call mid-chat to tell him his house in Melbourne was on fire.
The fire did happen — and in the same year that first Madonna interview took place, 1984 — but Meldrum was in London and no interview was curtailed.
Rather the first meeting went something like this.
“I’d gone over to New York to interview Van Halen,” Meldrum recalled. “I’d gone to a club called the Ritz where Eurythmics were playing, and Real Life, the Australian band, were opening for them. In-between bands they played videos and they put on both Madonna’s Burning Up and Holiday. I remember thinking ‘These are great, who the f*** is this? How have I missed these songs?’
“Someone told me she was on Warner, so because I was over there I said I had to interview Madonna. I interviewed Real Life that day, presented them with an award, and I was running late to get back to the Rockefeller Centre to interview Madonna. When I got there I had a bit of a clash with Peter Ikin from the record label because I was late, so I apologised and said ‘Who the f*** is Madonna anyway?’
“And then this head poked around the corner and said ‘I’m Madonna. And what the f*** is a Molly?”
“So we started the interview and for the first minute or so there were very curt replies. But I was telling her how much I loved Burning Up and Holiday. I said thatHoliday could go to No. 1 in Australia. Madonna said ‘Well, how long would that take?’ And I said ‘Six weeks?’ As soon as I got home we played Holiday and it was at the top of the charts in three weeks.
“Then she played me some of the new album she’d just finished, which was Like a Virgin. We became friends after that.”
In September 1984 Meldrum was back in New York and was front row at the MTV Music Awards with Tina Turner and her Australian manger Roger Davies.
That was the award show where Madonna, still not a huge star in America, premiered Like a Virgin wearing a wedding dress and writhing on the floor. She came out on the top of a giant wedding cake and had her notorious ‘Boy Toy’ buckle over the dress.
“Madonna’s come out and Tina Turner was slightly horrified and went ‘What is this woman doing?’,” Meldrum recalls. “Then Madonna was crawling on the floor and she came over near us, I think she’d seen my hat. Tina said ‘She’s coming near you Molly, she’s waving at you!’ So I waved back. But that was her breakthrough performance. The rest is history after that.”