Today in Madonna History: October 27, 1990

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On October 27 1990, Madonna’s first dance teacher and mentor from Michigan, Christopher Flynn, passed away from an AIDS-related illness. With the news of his death, Madonna issued the statement: “Christopher Flynn was my mentor, is my higher power, and will remain an eternal inspiration.”

Indeed, Flynn would later serve as the inspiration for one of the characters from Madonna’s directorial debut, Filth And Wisdom, as she explained to Gus Van Sant in the October 2010 issue of Interview magazine:

The character that Richard E. Grant plays in the film I directed, Filth and Wisdom, is this blind professor who was based on my ballet teacher, Christopher Flynn. Growing up in Michigan, I didn’t really know what a gay man was. He was the first man-the first human being-who made me feel good about myself and special. He was the first person who told me that I was beautiful or that I had something to offer the world, and he encouraged me to believe in my dreams, to go to New York. He was such an important person in my life. He died of AIDS, but he went blind toward the end of his life. He was such a lover of art, classical music, literature, opera. You know, I grew up in the Midwest, and it was really because of him that I was exposed to so many of those things. He brought me to my first gay club-it was this club in Detroit. I always felt like I was a freak when I was growing up and that there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t fit in anywhere. But when he took me to that club, he brought me to a place where I finally felt at home. So that character in Filth and Wisdom was dedicated to him and inspired by him.”

Madonna would also recall Christopher’s influence in the second verse of the lyrics to her song, In This Life.

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: April 11, 1990

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On April 11 1990, Madonna’s Keep It Together single was certified Gold by the RIAA for shipment of over 500,000 units in the U.S.

Keep It Together was Madonna’s last 7-inch single to be issued with a picture sleeve by Warner Bros. Records in the U.S. until the release of a 4 Minutes/Give It 2 Me double 7-inch set eighteen years later.

Today in Madonna History: March 20, 1990

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On March 20 1990, the lead single from Madonna’s I’m Breathless album, Vogue, was released.

Vogue was written and produced by Madonna and Shep Pettibone in December 1989.  The song was recorded with the intention of being the b-side to the upcoming (and last single for the Like A Prayer album), Keep It Together (released on January 30 1990).

The finished product was too good to be a single b-side, so it was decided that Vogue would be a stand-alone single on Madonna’s forthcoming album, I’m Breathless (even though the song had nothing to do with Dick Tracy).

Today in Madonna History: February 16, 1990

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On February 16 1990, Madonna’s close friend Keith Haring died.

Madonna shared this memory of their friendship:

“We were two odd birds in the same environment. I watched Keith come up from that street base, which is where I also came up from. I’ve always responded to Keith’s art. From the very beginning there was a lot of innocence and a joy that was coupled with a brutal awareness of the world. The fact is, there’s a lot of irony in Keith’s work, just as there’s a lot of irony in my work. And that’s what attracts me to his stuff. I mean, you have these bold colors and those childlike figures and a lot of babies, but if you really look at those works closely, they’re really very powerful and really scary.”