Today In Madonna History: March 31, 2010

On March 31 2010, Madonna’s former manager, Caresse Henry, passed away at the age of 44. Her death was later ruled a suicide.

Caresse had initially worked as an assistant to Madonna’s former manager, Freddy DeMann, before becoming Madonna’s personal assistant. When Madonna parted ways with DeMann in 1997, Caresse took the reigns as Madonna’s manager and remained in the role until late 2004. Caresse had also managed the careers of Ricky Martin, Jessica Simpson, Paula Abdul and Joss Stone, among others.

Caresse was credited as an artistic manager and executive producer for the HBO special: Madonna: Drowned World Tour 2001.

Liz Rosenberg (Madonna’s publicist at the time) released a statement to the press explaining that Caresse died of a self-inflicted gunshot at her home in Irvine, California. She was survived by her two children, a sister, a brother and her parents.

Today in Madonna History: October 13, 1983

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On October 13 1983, Madonna performed Burning Up, Everybody and Holiday at Camden Palace’s Thursday Party Night in London, England.

The following article about Madonna’s performance was originally published on October 15 1983 by The Guardian:

This could be the way pop promotion is going – new artists launched not with a full concert, but with the live equivalent of a video clip.

The scene at the Camden Palace in the early hours was like something from a British version of Flashdance. The place was packed with the usual exotically dressed clientele – there to see and be seen rather than just listen to the music – when the dancing was interrupted by what’s known on the American disco scene as a “track date.”

Pioneered by the likes of Grace Jones, this is a cut-price promotion device in which a disco artist suddenly appears for half an hour, singing live to backing tapes.

This demonstration was by a white girl in her early twenties, known simply as Madonna, a dancer who moved to New York from the Mid-West as an ambitious teenager and is currently the most important new figure in the American dance scene.

She succeeded partly because she makes great records and partly because she has turned the boring idea of a track date into an exotic event.

Dressed in holocaust chic – black top, black skirt and leggings, lots of bare midriff, and hair in ringlets – she sang well, with a husky, black-sounding voice, and danced even better. She hurtled around the stage, mostly swivelling her hips like a belly-dancer while performing her songs like Lucky Star and the stirring Holiday.

Given a full set and a live band behind her, Madonna would seem to have the makings of a major star, so it’s no wonder she is now being managed by the man who guided Michael Jackson’s recent career.

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Today in Madonna History: October 12, 1991

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On October 12 1991, Madonna and Freddy DeMann attended the wedding of entertainment attorney Allen Grubman and real estate broker Deborah Haimoff.

The wedding was held at the New York Public Library.  Other guests included Robert De Niro, David Geffen and Mariah Carey.

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Today in Madonna History: April 20, 1992

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On April 20 1992, Madonna signed a deal with Time Warner to set up her own multimedia entertainment company called Maverick.

The 7-year arrangement (with an option to extend to 11 years) allowed Madonna to run Maverick with her then long-time manager, Freddy DeMann, and have its headquarters based in Los Angeles.

Madonna was advanced as much as $60 million for the deal that included music publishing, television, film, merchandising and book-publishing.

David Geffen said this of the deal:

“Madonna’s deal is certainly extraordinary, but I think she’s a great talent with a great will, and if she wants to do something she’ll do it. She works very hard, takes big risks and stays at the cutting edge of what’s happening.”

Charles Koppelman, the chief operating officer of EMI Records North America, had this to day:

“If anyone is going to get a deal of this magnitude, she is the kind of artist to give it to, she’s the exception: someone who taps into artists and musical genres before the rest of the world does. In other deals where artists get their own labels, such perks are usually window dressing to satisfy their egos. Madonna’s different. I would bet on her to make something more of it.”

The first two projects released under Maverick included Madonna’s own Erotica album and her coffee table SEX book, in October of 1992.

Today in Madonna History: December 15, 1990

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On December 15 1990, the LA Times printed a feature article by Robert Hilburn, about Madonna’s forth-coming laser-disc release of the Blond Ambition tour.

Can Madonna sell laser-disc players as well as she sells herself? Pioneer Artists, the nation’s leading distributor of music-related laser discs, hopes so. In a move virtually unprecedented in the video industry, Pioneer has just released Madonna’s Blond Ambition World Tour Live exclusively on laser disc. Normally, video packages of this nature are released on videocassette two to six weeks before they are released on laser-disc. In this case, however, Blond Ambition won’t be released on videocassette for at least a year.  Steven Galloway, president of Pioneer Artists, said he hopes the fact that an artist of Madonna’s stature would release a video only on laser disc will send a signal to millions of potential laser customers that the new format has finally come of age.

Galloway said that the laser exclusive with Madonna grew out of an agreement last spring for Pioneer, the electronics hardware and software giant, to sponsor her tour.

“I contacted her manager, Freddy DeMann, long before the tour started in hopes of getting the laser-disc rights to any video that was going to be shot in association with the tour,” Galloway said. DeMann was meeting with potential corporate sponsors at the time, Galloway said, and he asked if Pioneer would be interested in sponsoring the tour. The company apparently jumped at the opportunity.

“Madonna is the ideal artist to reach the new demographics that we are hoping to attract with the new, low-priced combination CD and laser players . . . the young, hip 18-35 audience,” Galloway said.

“Until these low-priced players arrived, laser discs were considered something just for the high-end market . . . a rich man’s toy. But that has changed and Madonna seemed the ideal artist to drive that point home.”

And what about the Blond Ambition package itself?

The video is based on the same concert in Nice that HBO broadcast live last summer, but the new, edited laser version offers much more of the vitality and charm of the show itself than the HBO special.

Today in Madonna History: January 4, 1991

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On January 4 1991, Madonna responded to a Rabbi’s accusation of anti-semitism for the song lyrics in the remix of Justify My Love, called The Beast Within.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, accused Madonna of insulting Jews by using this Bible reference:

“I know your tribulation and your poverty and the slander of those who say that they are Jews, but they are not, they are a synagogue of Satan.”

In a letter sent to Madonna’s manager, Freddy DeMann, Rabbi Cooper said the Wiesenthal Center was outraged and wanted the quotation withdrawn. “The imagery of ‘Jew as Devil’ has led to untold violence against the Jewish people and slander against Judaism over the course of the last 2,000 years,” the rabbi wrote.

He charged that the phrase could “contribute to those who seek to promote anti-Semitism” and said that neo-Nazi groups had used such imagery to promote racist ideology among youth.

Madonna responded with this statement:

“I certainly did not have any anti-Semitic intent when I included a passage from the Bible on my record. It was a commentary on evil in general. My message, if any, is pro-tolerance and anti-hate. The song is, after all, about love.”

Rabbi Cooper said he took Madonna at her word.

“She was direct to the issue, she responded quickly and we’re relieved that she did so,” the rabbi said.

How did you feel about The Beast Within the first time you heard it? 

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