Lady GaGa was born in Yonkers, New York. Her parents are Italian and she attended a private school, the Catholic Convent of the Sacred Heart. Previous pupils of the school include Paris Hilton, Nicky Hilton and Caroline Kennedy.
She started to learn piano as a young child and wrote her first ballad when she was 13 years old. By 14, she was performing at open mic nights and at 17, she earned early admission as a music student to the Tisch School of Arts at New York University. She is one of only 20 people in the world to have ever done so.
Lady GaGa performed in a number of bands, such as SGBand and Mackin Pulsifer, playing venues on the Lower East Side. She soon decided to break away from rock 'n' roll music, and began performing in burlesque shows.
Lady GaGa got her name when the producer Rob Fusari compared her vocal style to that of Freddie Mercury and took the nickname from the Queen song 'Radio GaGa'. It was Fusari that helped her to write some of her early hits, including 'Disco Heaven', 'Dirty Ice Cream' and 'Beautiful, Dirty, Rich'.