Today in Madonna History: May 31, 1986

On May 31 1986, Madonna’s Live To Tell hit #1 for 3 weeks on US Hot Adult Contemporary singles chart.

The haunting and dramatic ballad, written and produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard, was the first commercially released collaboration between the pair – a songwriting partnership that is viewed by many fans as one of her most creatively successful.

Leonard had previously been involved with Madonna’s Virgin Tour as musical director, and when Madonna agreed to participate in Live Aid in the Summer of 1985, she asked him to collaborate on a new song for the performance, which evolved into Love Makes The World Go Round.

Although both songs would find their way on to Madonna’s next studio album, True Blue, at the time of Live To Tell’s release the album’s title had not yet been decided. Instead, the song was used to promote Sean Penn’s film At Close Range, in which it was featured alongside an original score composed by Leonard.

He had initially composed the music that evolved into Live To Tell for another film he had been invited to score for Paramount, titled Fire With Fire. The producers of the film passed on the theme. Leonard recalled the subsequent series of events that led to the song’s completion in The Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Random House:

“Madonna said ‘This song would be great for Sean’s new movie.’ She wrote the lyrics–she just wrote them on the spot, which is what we always do. I don’t think we’ve ever taken more than three hours to complete a song from start to finish. She sang it on the demo only once and left with the cassette. That day I went to work with Michael Jackson on some transcriptions for material he was writing for the Bad album. The phone rang at Michael’s and it was Sean. He said ‘I’m over at the director’s house and Madonna just brought the song over. We love it and we’d like to talk to you about it.’ … We recut the song, but we used the same vocal. She only sang it once for the demo and that was the vocal we used because it was so innocent and so shy. She had a legal pad in her hand and you can hear the paper. It’s as raw as raw can be and that’s part of what gave it all its charm.”

When the demo recording of Live To Tell eventually surfaced, it became evident that Madonna had in fact re-recorded the first verse, but all remaining vocals do indeed appear to have been carried over from the demo to the final mix (along with a generously added dose of reverb to smooth over the rough edges of the demo take).

Given the song’s dark undercurrents and unresolved narrative, it was a bold choice for a single release. It marked a dramatic shift from the yearning love song, Crazy For You – her only other ballad to have been issued as a single at the time. But any radio programmers who were hesitant to consider Madonna as a serious artist simply couldn’t deny the artistry of the song and nor could record buyers, with the combined support sending Live To Tell straight to the top of the pop charts.

Live To Tell was Madonna’s third #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and her #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, where it would reign for three weeks.

Today in Madonna History: May 30, 2003

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On May 30 2003, Callaway Editions announced that Madonna would make publishing history as her children’s book, The English Roses, would be released simultaneously worldwide in 30 languages in 100 countries.

The English Roses is a children’s picture book written by Madonna and illustrated by Jeffrey Fulvimari, which later became a series of children’s books by both artists. The books are about the life of five schoolgirls in London and their problems growing up.

Today in Madonna History: May 29, 1995

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On May 29 1995, Robert Hoskins was shot by a security guard outside Madonna’s Castillo Del Lago estate in Los Angeles, California for trespassing on her property and threatening to marry or kill Madonna. Madonna was not at home during the time of the incident.

Hoskins was shot in the arm and hip and was arrested on $150,000 bail.

Today in Madonna History: May 28, 1990

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On May 28 1990, Madonna played the second of a three show run at the Skydome in Toronto, Canada during her Blond Ambition Tour.

As the story goes, the concert on May 28th was attended by a Toronto police detective who became uncomfortable with Madonna’s simulated sexual theatrics. The detective complained to the Crown attorney, who became convinced–based on how it had been described–that the show on the 29th should not be permitted to proceed with similar content.

Supt. Frank Bergen was one of the constables sent to follow up on the complaint on May 29th, which was subsequently captured in Madonna’s film Truth Or Dare. Bergen recalled the events in a recent interview with The Canadian Press:

What I was struggling with was how do you go to the microphone and tell everyone the show is cancelled? My role and my position was we were not going to shut the show down. We were portrayed as being real knobs, if you will [in the documentary]. I don’t think we were…I don’t think we ever got to the (point), nor would we have, where we walked up onto the stage – and onto her bed – and handcuffed her. Then we would’ve been part of a different history.”

It took a year before the officer would hear about his cinematic debut in Truth or Dare, when one afternoon his teenage neighbour excitedly shouted across the backyard that he’d spotted him on the big screen.

Bergen said he respects concerns over obscenity but concedes it would’ve been difficult to satisfy a “loose interpretation of the Criminal Code.”

Today in Madonna History: May 27, 2006

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On May 27 2006, Madonna’s spokesperson announced that there would be no Confessions Tour for Japan or Australia.

“Due to Madonna’s heavy workload as part of her Confessions Tour of America and Europe, plus her wishes to spend as little time away from her family, Madonna has unfortunately decided to cancel the tour to Japan and therefore there will be no tour to Australia. She hopes that her fans will understand her making the personal decision.”

Today in Madonna History: May 26, 1984

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On May 26 1984, this classic Madonna photo by Helmut Werb was featured in No 1 UK magazine, along with the lyrics to Borderline.

Here are more amazing photos from that photo session:

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Today in Madonna History: May 25, 1985

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On May 25 1985, Madonna performed The Virgin Tour at Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The show was filmed by Daniel Kleinman, and released by Warner Music Video and Sire Records on November 13 1985.

Here is the dialog from Madonna’s famous Virgin Tour introduction (filmed by James Foley for the video release, it was not present during the concerts):

“I went to New York. I had a dream. I wanted to be a big star, I didn’t know anybody, I wanted to dance, I wanted to sing, I wanted to do all those things, I wanted to make people happy, I wanted to be famous, I wanted everybody to love me. I wanted to be a star. I worked really hard, and my dream came true.”

Madonna Live: The Virgin Tour was an enormous success.  The home video release was the top selling music video cassette of 1986 in the USA, and the video was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of 100,000 copies.

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