Why Madonna played Pantera’s A New Level on a Gibson Les Paul for an entire tour

Madonna and Dimebag Darrell perform live
(Image credit: Donald Kravitz/Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Across a career now spanning four decades, Madonna has established a reputation for reinventing herself. Yet for all her boundary-pushing, her rebirth as a metal guitarist for five minutes every night on tour came as perhaps the biggest surprise.

Back in 2008, attendees at Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet world tour bore witness to one of the more unlikely segues in modern music, as Madonna and band seamlessly transitioned between Abba-sampling pop smash Hung Up and Pantera’s 1992 groove-metal bruiser A New Level.

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Michael Astley-Brown
Editor-in-Chief, GuitarWorld.com

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.

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