On November 13 1997, the Rolling Stone magazine Women of Rock issue, featuring Madonna, Tina Turner and Courtney Love on its cover was released.
The photoshoot took place on October 21, and according to Madonna, the ladies had fun figuring out what music to listen to during the shoot:
“There was a bit of a skirmish over who was going to play what. We finally agreed that every other CD was mine and every other CD was Courtney’s and we sort of went back and forth. But the ultimate song that we ended up dancing to all the time was the MC stereo remix of the Tricky song, which is a very good song to dance to.”
Tina had this to say about working with Madonna and Courtney:
“It was like working with kids. You know I’ve always had Ikettes for dancers, so they were pretending a few times that they were my dancers. They had all kinds of pretence going on, but it was always built around me being the mother of the two in some kind of way. In terms of ‘Tina is this and we are that,’ and I was laughing the whole time, honestly. If the photograph comes out with me really laughing seriously, it was because of their reaction to each other. It was wonderful.”
Madonna was introduced to longtime stylist, Arianne Phillips, at the photoshoot. Phillips had been working as Courtney Love’s personal stylist at the time and ended up styling both Courtney and Madonna during the shoot by photographer Peggy Sirota.
On October 27 1996, Madonna’s You Must Love Me (the lead single from Evita) was released.
Kathleen Guerdo’s review for Billboard:
“Madonna delivers what is by far one of the strongest vocal performances of her career, comfortably scaling to the song’s demanding soprano heights while infusing it with delicate, heart-rending emotion. This bodes well for the creative potency of the rest of the soundtrack, which is due Nov. 14. Prepare for wall-to-wall airplay of this flawless ballad on pop and AC radio.”
On August 23 1997, Evita: Music from the Motion Picture (the highlights disc) debuted at #168 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart in the USA.
The highlights disc included 19 tracks from the film, and was released on July 29 1997 in North America to help promote the home video release. The single disc was released in select markets around the world in 1996 at the same time as the double disc complete soundtrack, but not in North America.
Evita: The Motion Picture Music Soundtrack featured all 34 tracks from the film, and was released on November 12 1996.
The highlights disc didn’t perform very well in the late summer of 1997 because it was released a full 8 months after the original release. No single was released to radio to promote it, and most die-hard fans had already secured an imported version of the single disc soundtrack the previous year. Why it was released at all in July 1997 remains a mystery. Why the single-disc set wasn’t released in North America in November 1996 is a better question. Why not release the double-disc set (expensive) and the single disc set (average price of a CD at the time) and appeal to the largest possible group of consumers? That was the approach around the world, but not in North America, we can’t help but wonder why? – Jay
On July 28 1997, Madonna offered a personal glimpse of the glamour, the luxury and the loss of her great friend Gianni Versace in an essay published in Time magazine.
I slept in Gianni Versace’s bed. Of course, he wasn’t in it at the time, but I couldn’t help feeling that I was soaking up some of his aura. I believe that when we sleep, our soul leaves our body to be rejuvenated. Powerful and profound things happen to us in our bed at night, and energy accumulates and hovers above it. There was a lot of nervous energy around Gianni’s bed, and I must say I never slept very well in it. I kept wanting to leap out of the bed and do things: write poetry, smell the gardenias and jasmine that surrounded the house, gaze out my window at the magnificent lake and press my face onto the cool marble of any number of naked-men statues that filled his bedrooms. I didn’t know who they were. They could have been important Greek gods or just your standard Roman hunks, but they were lovely to look at and very distracting. There were ancient books to comb through. Old-master paintings to study and local architecture to marvel at. I was in heaven, but more important, I was envious of a person who had the courage to live life so luxuriously. I’m too practical for that.
I had been invited to stay in Gianni’s villa in Lake Como after shooting my second Versace campaign in Milan. I was thrilled to spend the Fourth of July in such a beautiful setting. I arrived with boyfriend and entourage in tow. As a special favor, I had asked Gianni if I could bring my friend Marjorie Gross, who was dying of cancer. She came along, and we all had to keep pinching ourselves to make sure we weren’t dreaming. Every evening at sunset we were served fresh Bellinis, which we sipped under the giant magnolia tree at the edge of the lake. The cook prepared delicious meals, the Sri Lankan servants waited on us with white gloves, and my dog Chiquita was taken for long walks by gorgeous Italian bodyguards with walkie-talkies. The captain of a large speedboat was always on standby to take us for our daily swim in the crystal-clear waters of the lake. Dirty clothes never stayed on the floor for more than a few seconds, and beautiful Versace gowns kept arriving. A new batch every day. I even wore one to dinner. I had this fantasy that I was in an Antonioni film and the shoot was going to go on indefinitely. I felt like a spoiled princess. “The Versaces really know how to live!” We kept repeating this over and over like a mantra.
Gianni phoned regularly to make sure that everything was O.K. and that we were all taken care of. I thought about asking if my dog could have a manicure, but I decided against it. Even Gianni must draw the line somewhere. In retrospect I think he would have said yes, and a pet groomer would have been delivered in a matter of minutes. The only person as generous as Gianni is his little sister Donatella, who embraces the beautiful things in life with the same fervor.
But let me be very clear. The Versaces work as hard as they play. Obviously we were enjoying the fruits of Gianni’s labor. Evidence of his work ethic was all over the house. There were sketches lying around everywhere. Art books were marked or open to pages that were obviously going to show up somewhere in his new designs, and millions of magazines were piled on tables, full of articles or advertisements showing his glamorous and sexy clothes. Page after page bursting with color and eroticism. This was a man with a mission. A force to be reckoned with. I was on vacation in his house. He was working.
Eventually my fantasy came to an end, and we all headed back to our lives that seemed dull in comparison. Gianni was probably designing his next collection, editing one of his books or building a new villa. Probably all three.
The last time I saw him was in the spring in Miami. Donatella had invited me over for a pre-Easter dinner. I went to Casa Casuarina with a few friends and found Gianni in great spirits. He was mesmerized by the blue nail polish on my daughter’s toenails. After dinner his niece Allegra sat at our feet and played with Lourdes while he talked about la dolce vita. He had kicked cancer, he was proud of his latest collection, and life was good. That’s when I launched into my speech about yoga and how good it would be for his mind, body and soul. He seemed open, and I gave him my yoga teacher’s number. I could totally imagine this extravagant Calabrian with a twinkle in his eye in the lotus position. The great yogis believe there is no end to life. I’m inclined to agree. Even though Gianni’s life on this earth has ended, his spirit is everywhere, and his soul lives forever.
I’m going to miss you, Gianni. We’re all going to miss you. But I’ve got a pocketful of memories in my Versace jeans, and they’re not going anywhere.
For the week ending July 12 1997, the EVITA soundtrack enjoyed its final week on the Official UK Albums Chart. After 36 weeks on the chart the hit film soundtrack sold 640,000 copies in the UK.