Madonna’s oldest brother Anthony Ciccone dies aged 66: Previously battled alcoholism and lived on the streets
- The millionaire singer’s sibling, who struggled with alcoholism, has died
- Anthony Cicconi was one of five siblings Madonna grew up with around Detroit
- Joe Henry, who is married to Madonna’s sister Melanie, announced the news
Madonna’s oldest brother Anthony Ciccone has died at the age of 66.
The singer’s sibling had been living on the streets of Michigan for many years while struggling with alcoholism.
In a statement, Joe Henry, who is the husband of Madonna’s sister Melanie Ciccone, wrote: ‘My brother-in-law, Anthony Gerard Ciccone, exited this earthly plane last evening. I’ve known him since I was 15, in the spring of our lives in Michigan so many years now gone.’
Madonna, who was born in Michigan to Catholic parents, grew up in suburbs of Detroit with five siblings, the eldest of whom was Anthony.
While she moved to New York in 1978 to pursue dance, her eldest brother stayed in Michigan and fell victim to alcoholism and homelessness.
Anthony Ciccone, Madonna’s brother, has died aged 66, the husband of Madonna’s sister Melanie has said in a statement
Cicconi pictured as a young man in a warm tribute to him posted by his brother in law on Saturday
‘Anthony was a complex character; and god knows: we tangled in moments, as true brothers can. But I loved him, and understood him better than I was sometimes willing to let on,’ he added.
‘But trouble fades; and family remains – with hands reached across the table. Farewell, then, brother Anthony. I want to think the god your blessed mother (and mine) believed in has her there, waiting to receive you. At least for today, no one shall dissuade me from this vision,’ said Ciccone, ending his note.
After some years of sleeping rough under a bridge in Michigan Madonna’s family famously said they would reincorporate estranged Anthony in 2017.
It came after for years he suggested publicly that his family had turned their backs on him.
Ciccone said in the past he had been living under a river bridge in Michigan with a sleeping bag and his sole companion, another street dweller named Michael.
While Madonna moved to New York in 1978 to pursue dance, her eldest brother stayed in Michigan and fell victim to alcoholism and homelessness
Ciccone is pictured homeless in Michigan in 2011 with his friend ‘Matty’, who was also homeless at the time
Ciccone said he had been among the homeless in the ski resort of Traverse City since losing a job at his father’s vineyard and winery six miles away.
‘My family turned their back on me, basically, when I was having a hard time,’ he said. ‘You think I haven’t answered this question a bazillion times – why my sister is a multi-bazillionaire and I’m homeless on the street? Never say never. This could happen to anybody.’
He said it made him angry when some thought it funny that the brother of such a famous star should end up living under a bridge. He was adamant at the time that he wanted none of her money – whether it was offered or not.
‘I’m not looking to get a free handout because of my sister,’ he said. ‘I’m not looking for any publicity.’ He instead relies on the generosity of soup kitchens run by local churches for food.
Ciccone, who claimed he once worked in Alaska’s fishing industry and as a photographer’s assistant in New York, now makes a few dollars doing odd jobs and collecting bottles and cans from people’s dustbins.
Madonna has known about his plight, and repeatedly offered to help by paying for him to go into rehab. His father also offered to give him his job back if he got professional help.
He had not always been receptive though. ‘My family seem to think rehab is some kind of magic panacea for life’s ills,’ he once said.