Category: madonna

Madonna photographed by Herb Ritts, 1985.

Madonna photographed by Herb Ritts, 1985.

Madonna photographed by Herb Ritts, 1989.

Madonna photographed by Herb Ritts, 1989.

On this day in music history: June 30, 1986 – …

On this day in music history: June 30, 1986 – “True Blue”, the third album by Madonna is released. Produced by Madonna, Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray, it is recorded at Channel Recording in Los Angeles, CA from December 1985 – April 1986. After the massive whirlwind success of the “Like A Virgin” album and “The Virgin Tour”, the pop superstar does not rest on her laurels, beginning work on the crucial follow up at the end of 1985. Working with long time collaborator Stephen Bray and new producer Patrick Leonard (Michael Jackson, Jody Watley), the album is praised upon its release as her strongest effort to date, and is widely regarded today as one of the best albums of her career. It spins off five top five hits including “Live To Tell” (#1 Pop), “Papa Don’t Preach” (#1 Pop), “Open Your Heart” (#1 Pop) and the title track (#3 Pop). “True Blue” also marks the beginning Madonna’s long association with famed fashion photographer Herb Ritts who shoots the LP’s iconic cover photo. The original LP package also includes a poster of the album cover shot. As a promotion for the album, MTV sponsors the “Make My Video” contest, inviting viewers to submit their own visual interpretations of the title track. The winning entry comes from Angel Gracia and Cliff Guest, whose black & white clip is rotated heavily on the video channel. The pair are awarded a check for $25,000 by the pop superstar herself at MTV’s New York studios. The alternate video directed by James Foley, featuring Madonna with close friends actress Debi Mazur and fashion designer Erika Belle is shown largely outside the US. Madonna also supports the album with the worldwide “Who’s That Girl Tour” beginning in June of 1987. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001, with the extended 12" mixes of “La Isla Bonita” and the title track included as bonus tracks. The vinyl LP is reissued in Europe in 2012, including the original inner sleeve lyric sheet and poster featured in the original release. In October of 2016, a limited edition release of the LP pressed on blue vinyl, is issued as exclusive through the European supermarket chain Sainsbury’s. “True Blue” spends five weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 7, 1986 – &…

On this day in music history: June 7, 1986 – “Live To Tell” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 3 weeks on May 31, 1986. Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, it is the third chart topping single for the pop music superstar from Rochester, MI. After phenomenal success Madonna experiences during 1984-85 with her first two albums, and marrying actor Sean Penn, the newly anointed pop superstar takes a hiatus from public view. By December of 1985 work on her third studio album “True Blue” begins, with co-producer and musician Patrick Leonard. Leonard also receives an offer to score a film called “Fire With Fire” being produced by Paramount Pictures. He asks Madonna to write lyrics for one of the songs for the film titling it “Live To Tell”. The track, initially recorded just as a demo, with Leonard on keyboards and drum programming, Jonathan Moffett on live drums, and Bruce Gaitsch on guitars. Madonna quickly lays down a scratch vocal on tape, which is recorded in only one take. When the deal with Paramount falls through, Madonna suggests they submit it to James Foley, the director the film “At Close Range”, starring her husband, Christopher Walken and Chris Penn. Foley loves the song and agrees to use it. Madonna and Leonard goes back and attempt to re-cut her lead vocal, but when they find that it cannot be improved upon, it is remixed and released as is. Released on March 26, 1986, three months in advance of “True Blue”, the ballad is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #49 on April 12, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “Live To Tell” also marks the first of many times that Madonna dramatically revamps her image. Ditching the lace, crucifixes and rubber bracelets of the “Madonna”/“Like A Virgin” era, she reveals her new look in the music video for “Tell”. Now sporting shoulder length honey blonde hair, less makeup, and a simple floral print dress, her “new” understated glamorous look is reminiscent of screen legends like Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe. Fans and the media immediately take notice and praise the singer for the change. Madonna’s first public performance of “Live To Tell” is at an AIDS charity benefit at Madison Square Garden, dedicating the song to the memory of her friend and early supporter Martin Burgoyne who had recently passed from the illness. Never a stranger to controversy, when Madonna performs “Live To Tell” during live performances on the Confessions Tour in 2006, the song is staged with the singer wearing a crown of thorns while hanging on a giant mirrored cross. After the concert at Olympic Stadium in Rome, Italy on August 6, 2006, Madonna is rebuked by religious leaders who consider the performance “an act of hostility” toward the Roman Catholic Church.

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On this day in music history: May 27, 1985 – &…

On this day in music history: May 27, 1985 – “Into The Groove” by Madonna is released. Written and produced by Madonna and Stephen Bray, it is the ninth single release for the pop music superstar. By early 1984, Madonna’s career finally begins to take flight as her self titled debut album gains momentum off of the strength of the singles “Holiday” and “Borderline”. While living in the Alphabet City area of the East Village in Manhattan, she sees a handsome young Puerto Rican man on the fire escape of the apartment building across from hers. That encounter inspires one of her best known and loved songs. Madonna finishes writing what becomes “Into The Groove” with her former Breakfast Club band mate, drummer Steve Bray. Club DJ Mark Kamins, producer of her debut single “Everybody”, asks Madonna if she can write a song for a female teenage vocalist he’s discovered named Cheyne (“Call Me Mr. Telephone”, “Private Joy”). She offers him “Into The Groove” which Kamins feels is a hit upon hearing it. A short time later, Madonna lands the title role in director Susan Seidelman’s “Desperately Seeking Susan” (co-starring Rosanna Arquette and Aidan Quinn). Seidelman asks Madonna if she will contribute a song, for a night club scene filmed at Danceteria in New York. She plays the director the rough demo for “Groove”, which the director loves immediately. Madonna and Steve Bray re-record it at Sigma Sound Studios in New York for inclusion in the film. Kamins is upset, when he finds out that she has taken the song back without telling him, causing a rift between the two. By the time “Susan” hits theaters in late March of 1985, Madonna’s music career is on fire with three singles on the chart simultaneously. Fearing overexposure, there are no plans to issue “Into The Groove” as single, and it is not included on the soundtrack album. However, a music video is released to help promote the film. Radio stations take the audio from the video and begin playing it on the air. The public’s reaction is immediately positive, and forces Madonna’s label Sire Records to release it. Not wanting it to be in direct chart competition with “Angel”, “Groove” is placed on the B-side of the 12" single for “Angel”. Since it is not initially released as a 7" single in the US, it isn’t eligible to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, though that does not stop it from becoming a huge radio smash. The 12" sells over a million copies domestically, becoming one of only a small handful to sell in numbers that large. “Groove” is released as an A-side overseas, and added to some foreign pressings of the “Like A Virgin” album. “Into The Groove” tops the charts in nine countries including four weeks at the top of the UK singles chart, and one week at the top of the Billboard Club Play on June 29, 1985. “Into The Groove” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 19, 1990 -…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1990 – “Vogue” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on the same date. Written and produced by Madonna and Shep Pettibone, it is the eighth chart topping single for the pop music superstar born Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone. Collaborating with club DJ, remixer, and producer Shep Pettibone, Madonna decide to come up with a non-album B-side for the “Like A Prayer” albums’ fifth single “Keep It Together”. The singer is inspired by dancers she sees at the New York City club The Sound Factory doing a stylized dance called “voguing”. Originating in New York’s black and latino underground gay clubs and drag balls as early as the 1960’s, the dance takes its name from the fashion magazine “Vogue”. It is a series of “angular, rigid hand, arm, leg and body movements” designed to look like the person is posing like a model while they are moving. When Madonna lets Warner Bros. know of her original intent to the use the song as a B-side, their great enthusiasm for the track persuade her to release it an A-side instead. “Vogue” is also added to the album “I’m Breathless” which includes songs from the film “Dick Tracy” in which she plays the character Breathless Mahoney. The songs popularity is further heightened by a memorable and striking black and white video directed by David Fincher (“Fight Club”, “Se7en”), featuring several of the dancers Madonna originally sees performing the dance, becoming dancers on the “Blonde Ambition Tour” in 1990. Entering the Hot 100 at #39 on April 14, 1990, it leaps to the top of the chart five weeks later. In 2010, “Vogue” is featured in “The Power Of Madonna” episode of the television show “Glee”, when the song is used in a spoof of the music video performed by actress Jane Lynch. The same year, Madonna and co-writer/producer Shep Pettibone are sued by Salsoul Records, claiming that “Vogue” samples a portion of The Salsoul Orchestra’s disco classic “Love Break”. The court eventually settles the lawsuit in Madonna’s favor. As a result of the suit, Warner Bros stops publishing royalty payments to Pettibone, who sues WB Music and Warner/Chappell Music in April of 2017. The suit claims that he is owed more than $500,000 in back royalties. Finally in April of 2019, one month shy of twenty nine years after the song tops the pop chart, Shep Pettibone wins his lawsuit (on appeal) against Warner Music Group and its music publishing company Warner/Chappell. “Vogue” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 11, 1985 – &…

On this day in music history: May 11, 1985 – “Crazy For You” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, peaking at #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart on the same date, and #80 on the R&B singles chart on May 4, 1985. Written by John Bettis and Jon Lind, it is the second chart topping single for the pop music superstar from Rochester, MI. Songwriters Bettis (“Top Of The World, "Goodbye To Love”) and Lind (“Boogie Wonderland”, “Save The Best For Last”) are asked by Warner Bros film music executive Joel Sill if they write a song for a film being produced by Jon Peters and Peter Guber (“Batman”, “The Color Purple”) titled “Vision Quest” in early 1984. Producer Phil Ramone acts as the music supervisor for the film, and is responsible compiling the soundtrack album. Ramone hears “Crazy For You” and loves it immediately, knowing exactly who he wants to record the song. At the time, Madonna’s career is just beginning to take flight as her third single “Borderline” is climbing the charts. Known at the time only for her uptempo dance material, the songwriters are unsure of Madonna’s ability to sing a ballad. The track is produced by Madonna’s then boyfriend, club DJ and remixer John “Jellybean” Benitez. When Bettis and Lind attend the initial recording session for the song, they are disappointed at the outcome. Benitez brings in keyboardist and studio musician Rob Mounsey to write a new arrangement and they re-record the song. Everyone is pleased with the new version and it is included on the “Vision Quest” soundtrack album. Madonna also has a small role in the film as a night club singer, performing “Crazy For You” and “Gambler”. Released in February of 1985, as her second album “Like A Virgin” is riding high in the charts, the ballad is another major smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #55 on March 2, 1985, it climb to the top of the chart ten weeks later, unseating USA For Africa’s “We Are The World” from the top spot, after holding at number two for three weeks behind it. “Crazy” not only is Madonna’s second number one single in less than six months, it also helps broaden her audience and show another side of her musically that had not been previously seen. The single also earns Madonna a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in 1986. “Crazy For You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Madonna as Breathless in Dick Tracy (1990)  …

Madonna as Breathless in Dick Tracy (1990)  

Madonna photographed by Herb Ritts in Honolu…

Madonna photographed by Herb Ritts in Honolulu, January 1985.

On this day in music history: April 22, 1989 -…

On this day in music history: April 22, 1989 – “Like A Prayer” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Club Play chart for two weeks on April 15, 1989.

Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, it is the seventh chart topping single for the pop music icon from Rochester, MI. Many of the songs on her fourth studio album “Like A Prayer” based on her Catholic upbringing in a large Italian American family. Madonna writes about her own personal faith, and about how religion and sex are intertwined and are often at odds with each other. The title track of the album will reflect all of these things. Co-writing the song with frequent collaborator songwriter and co-producer Pat Leonard, the pair decide during recording that the song to put a gospel choir on it. They meet with famed gospel star Andraé Crouch who agrees to add his choirs’ vocals to the track. “Like A Prayer” is launched by a high profile commercial ad campaign with Pepsi who is to sponsor the singer’s tour in support of the album. The songs music video (directed by Mary Lambert), co starring actor Leon Robinson (aka Leon) playing the role of a saint, contains scenes juxtaposing religious iconography, showing Madonna with stigmata on her hands like Jesus after being crucified, dancing in front of burning crosses, and sexuality (the singer laying down on the alter with the saint), causes the company to withdraw their support of her tour and pull the commercial starring the singer from the airwaves. However, Madonna is allowed to keep the five million dollars she is paid by Pepsi. The controversy fueled by the music video and the falling out with Pepsi does not hurt the songs commercial performance. Quite the opposite in fact. Released as a single on March 3, 1989, it is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #38 on March 18, 1989, it races to the top of the chart five weeks later. Regarded as one of Madonna’s signature songs, “Like A Prayer” has a long life beyond its run on the charts. In April of 2010, the pop superstars’ music is the focus of an episode of the hit series “Glee”. Its ratings success revives interest in Madonna’s original recording of “Like A Prayer”, leading to it re-entering the Hot 100 at #47 on May 10, 2010. “Like A Prayer” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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