Today in Madonna History: August 13, 1952

On August 13 1952, one of Madonna’s closest friends, Herb Ritts, was born in Los Angeles, California.

Ritts specialized in black and white photography and music videos, including Madonna’s Cherish music video and the photoshoot for Madonna’s True Blue, Like A Prayer and Immaculate Collection albums (among others — the list just goes on and on).

Throughout the 80’s and 90’s, Herb was at Madonna’s side taking the most beautiful photos of her possible. We thank him from the bottom of our hearts for capturing Madonna during this time in her life and career.

Today in Madonna History: May 9, 1985

On May 9 1985, Madonna and Rosanna Arquette appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, promoting their film, Desperately Seeking Susan, with photos by Herb Ritts.

Here’s a snippet from the interview featured in the magazine:

Rosanna has expressed resentment over the insertion into the movie of a Madonna song backing a quickly rewritten scene in which the Susan character gyrates around a New York club. A video clip using the unreleased tune, “Into the Groove,” spotlights Madonna. “It does take things out of context a bit,” says Madonna, “kinda calls attention to another facet, but…” What that “but” means is, it sells tickets, chumps. Still, it’s become an issue…

“Yeah, really?” says Madonna. “Who’s it become an issue with – besides Rosanna?” Her laugh is quick and not unkind. Insiders say the song found its way into the film on its own virtues. “Susan Seidelman was not out to make a pandering rock & roll movie,” says executive producer Michael Peyser, 31, who worked on Susan after serving as associate producer on Woody Allen’s film The Purple Rose of Cairo. One of the music coordinators, Danny Goldberg, had no time to compile a soundtrack LP when the film’s release date was pushed up, but in talks with MTV execs, he paved the way for “Into the Groove” to air, even though the song might never show up on vinyl.

Madonna is not naive about the studio’s gambit: “I have a big audience of kids for my music, and you know how they use soundtracks to push movies – I think they’re using me in the same way, and it’s really a drag, because I’m trying to establish myself as an actress, not as a singer making movies. But I’ll be happy if it becomes a commercial success, simply because it’s a different kind of movie than most of what’s out now. There are a few formulas people have been using the past five years, with Flashdance and Breakin’ and all that stuff; this movie is like a return to those simple, straightforward caper comedies Claudette Colbert and Carole Lombard made in the Thirties. They give you a taste of real life, some poignance, and leave you feeling up at the end – none of that adolescent-fantasy bullshit.”

Today in Madonna History: July 22, 1989

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On July 22 1989, Herb Ritts directed Madonna’s Cherish video.  The black and white music video was filmed at Paradise Cove Beach in Malibu, California.

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.”

Today in Madonna History: September 21, 1989

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On September 21 1989, Madonna was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine for the second time that year (she was also featured on the cover in March 1989).

Herb Ritts took some amazing shots of Madonna for the cover. We’ve shared a few of what we consider to be the best from that shoot. We can’t look at these photos without hearing Cherish in our heads!

Today in Madonna History: August 21, 1989

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On August 21 1989, the music video for Cherish premiered on MTV in the U.S.  The video was the directed by Madonna’s frequent collaborator and friend, photographer Herb Ritts.

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While the single from the Like A Prayer album went on to become another hit single, it’s interesting to note that Madonna had previously written an entirely different song using the title Cherish. Her handwritten lyrics for the unreleased track – along with several others that have yet to surface in musical form – turned up at an auction in 2011.

Today in Madonna History: June 1, 1990

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On June 1 1990, Madonna was controversially featured grabbing her crotch and breast on the cover of Interview magazine.

Madonna was interviewed by Glenn O’Brien at the Disney Studios, where she was rehearsing the Blond Ambition Tour. Here’s a snippet from the interview:

Glenn: Let’s talk about your show.

Madonna: Let’s not. Today was a horrible day. That was the worst rehearsal.

Glenn: Well, I liked it, but I haven’t seen it when you thought it was good. I loved the number where you’re lying on the piano singing a torch song.

Madonna: You saw only one segment of the show. I’ve created five different worlds, and the set is all based on hydraulics. One is going down and another is coming up. The world changes completely. I think of it more as a musical than as a rock concert. There is a straightforward Metropolis section, like my Express Yourself video – that set with all the gears and machinery; it’s very hard and metallic. That’s the heavy-duty dance music. Then the set changes and it’s like a church. We call it the temple ruins. It’s all these columns, trays of votive candles, a cross. I do Like a Virgin on a bed, but we changed the arrangement, so it sounds Indian. Then I’m being punished for masturbation on this bed, which is, as you know, what happens. Then we do the more serious, religious-type material – Like a Prayer, Papa Don’t Preach… Then it changes to what you saw, this Art Deco ’50s-musical set. That’s when we do three songs from Dick Tracy, and then after that we do what I call the camp section. Then it gets really serious again and we go into our Clockwork Orange cabaret set.

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