Today In Madonna History: August 20, 2012

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On August 20 2012, a law suit was filed by nine Russians who were offended that Madonna had asked fans to raise their hands to show their support for the Russian LGBT community during a concert stop in St. Petersburg, Russia—where it is illegal to promote homosexuality to minors.

In her speech during the concert, Madonna called for members of Russia’s LGBT community to be “treated with dignity, with respect, with compassion, with love,” and took the country to task for crackdowns on those who expressed opposition against the country’s oppressive laws.

“I feel people are becoming more and more afraid of people who are different; people are becoming more intolerant,” she said. “It’s a very scary time, but we can make a difference. We can change this. We have the power. And we don’t have to do it with violence; we just have to do it with love.”

Although the suit did make it to trial in November 2012, it was promptly dismissed by the presiding judge after briefly questioning the plaintiffs about the arbitrary nature of the case given the volume of contemporary entertainment which contains “positive references to homosexuality.” The suit had sought damages of approximately $10.5 million from Madonna, the organizer of her concert, and the hall where it was held.

Today In Madonna History: August 2, 1985

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On August 2 1985, Madonna lost a court battle against director Stephen Jon Lewicki over the video release of A Certain Sacrifice. The low-budget indie film starring Jeremy Pattnosh and Madonna was shot sporadically over a two-year period in New York City between 1979 and 1981. The film also featured Madonna’s former Breakfast Club bandmate Angie Smit in a minor role.

Madonna was said to have been unhappy with the inclusion of several topless scenes in the film, although it has also been reported that despite instigating the court case, her lawyers did not present much of an argument during the proceedings, leading some to speculate that she had no serious interest in blocking the release of the film. After a limited number of screenings in New York in October 1985, the film was quickly issued on home video and laserdisc in order to capitalize on Madonna’s fame. In more recent years, the film has been reissued on DVD.

Lewicki was not the only person attached to the film who was attempting to hitch a ride on Madonna’s wave of success in the mid 1980’s. While it is unclear whether he was involved as an extra or behind the scenes, top Madonna mooch Otto Von Wernherr is also thanked in the film’s credits. It does not appear that any of his music was used in the film, which for once is actually unfortunate because Von Wernherr’s songs would have sounded right at home alongside the truly bizarre musical selections, including several by Pattnosh, that are showcased throughout A Certain Sacrifice.  Perhaps it was Lewicki’s fringe fetish that ruled out the possibility of using any of Madonna’s pre-Warner tunes in the film?

Today in Madonna History: August 1, 1990

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On August 1 1990, “Madonna In Concert” was taped by SACIS-RAI at Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain on the second to last date of Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour.

The special was broadcast in Spain, Italy, the UK and Australia. It also aired on Canada’s MuchMusic on September 10, 1990. After being heavily promoted by the channel in the weeks leading up to the broadcast, the special aired in an edited version during its prime time slot, followed by an uncensored airing at midnight.

In addition to its intended use for broadcast, the recording also served as an unused safety net for her HBO special from the final date in Nice, France a few days later.

Today In Madonna History: July 31, 2009

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On July 31 2009, “Celebration” – the lead single from Madonna’s third greatest hits album of the same name – was released to digital media outlets by Warner Bros. Records. The song was written by Madonna, Paul Oakenfold, Ian Green & Ciaran Gribbin and produced by Madonna & Oakenfold with additional production by Green.

Celebration” was one of two new songs written with Oakenfold for the hits collection. The other new track, “Broken,” was left off the album but was later issued on 12-inch coloured vinyl as an exclusive gift to members of Madonna’s official fan club. Oakenfold also contributed new production to “It’s So Cool,” an outtake from Madonna’s 2003 album American Life which was used as a bonus track for the deluxe digital download edition of the Celebration album.

Today In Madonna History: July 26, 1986

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On July 26 1986, “Papa Don’t Preach” spent its third and final week at number-one on the UK singles chart. It was certified Gold by BPI on August 1st, 1986 for shipment of over 500,000 copies, based on certification thresholds at that time. With a chart run extending for 15 weeks, the single ranked #8 overall in the UK’s year-end charts tally.

The song was a massive hit across Europe, topping the Eurochart for an incredible eleven week stretch from August 2nd through October 11th, 1986 when it was finally overtaken by none other than Madonna herself with the follow-up single, “True Blue.

Although “Justify My Love” is often cited as being the first-ever video single, it is interesting to note that it was actually not the first Madonna music video to be marketed commercially as a single. Possibly an attempt to cash-in on the success and controversy surrounding “Papa Don’t Preach” or more likely as a means of testing out new marketing possibilities for a hybrid laserdisc/cd format, Warner issued limited quantities of “Papa Don’t Preach” as a CD Video in the US, UK and Japan containing three audio tracks along with the music video. Perhaps anticipating the limited appeal of the format, Warner did not bother modifying the track-listing to include the appropriate b-sides in either the UK (“Ain’t No Big Deal“) or Japan (“Think Of Me“), instead opting to issue the US b-side (“Pretender“) on all three pressings. Stranger still was the release date – 1988 – two years after the standard single hit stores. Needless to say, this early attempt to market a music video single did not stir public interest the way it would in 1990, and the concept went into hibernation mode until Madonna gave audiences a video single they were willing to pay for.

Today in Madonna History: July 25, 2001

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On July 25 2001, Madonna performed the first of five sold-out concerts at New York’s Madison Square Gardens (July 25th, 26th, 28th, 30th and 31st). The set of shows were the second stop on the North American leg of the Drowned World Tour, and the seventh city visited on the full tour itinerary. The European leg consisted of only five cities, with numerous dates at each stop. Twelve cities were visited on the North American leg, all within the United States.

Being her only tour before or since to not include at least one Canadian date, many Canadian fans ventured across the border to catch a performance of the show. The Detroit dates in particular welcomed a large group of fans from Southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto area, while many Quebecers traveled to New York to see Madonna in concert, having waited nearly eight years since her previous tour.

After being graced with stops in Canada on each of her tours since, we hope that Madonna will also share the love with her loyal Australian fans by including some dates down under during her next tour!

Today in Madonna History: July 24, 1999

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On July 24 1999, “Beautiful Stranger” reached its peak position of #19 on the Billboard Hot 100. This was based on the strength of airplay alone, as Maverick Records opted to boost sales of the “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” soundtrack album by not releasing the song as a physical single in the US. Had it been issued commercially, it would have easily given Madonna another Top 10 hit. The single was released in most major markets outside the US including Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan.

Today in Madonna History: July 22, 1985

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Power Station Studio C – where Like A Virgin was recorded

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Nile Rodgers – Power Station Studio C

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Like A Virgin’s RIAA Gold certification award

On July 22 1985, Like A Virgin was certified 5x Platinum in the US – the first solo album by a female artist to be certified for shipment of 5 million copies. The album remained a consistently strong catalogue seller well into the next decade, eventually earning a Diamond certification (the RIAA’s highest certification award) in 1998 for shipment of over 10 million copies in the US.