Today in Madonna History: April 14, 2009

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On April 14 2009, Steven Meisel was featured in Vogue magazine, and the article described him as the man that taught Madonna about re-invention.

In the article, Madonna shared some nice thoughts on Meisel:

Even Madonna agrees that there is, indeed, “a great sense of mystery” about Meisel – so much so that after all these years she feels she still doesn’t really know him very well. “I know that I love him,” she says. “You get sucked into his aura. He knows things.”

She learned this from one of their first collaborations, which was for the cover of Like A Virgin. “Before I worked with Steven,” says Madonna, “I just showed up in the clothes I was wearing, stood in front of the lights, and got my picture taken. With Steven, a team of people descended on me, started to undress me. Someone grabbed my hair, another grabbed my face, another started helping me try on various bits of clothes, and they all seemed to be speaking a language I didn’t understand – the language of Steven Meisel.”

To hear Madonna talk about working with Meisel is like being let in on a long-held secret. She goes on, “Steven had a vision. He had done his research. He had very specific references. I really respected the care that he took with his work, how seriously he approached it, but at the same time he has a great sense of irony. He made me feel like I was part of something important. He treated each photo shoot like it was a small film and insisted that we create a character each time we worked but then would make fun of the archetypes we created. He was the first person to introduce me to the idea of reinvention.”

Today in Madonna History: March 19, 1996

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On March 19 1996, Madonna’s cover of Rose Royce’s Love Don’t Live Here Anymore was released as the fourth single from her Something To Remember greatest ballads collection.

The song originally appeared on the Like A Virgin album.

The idea to cover the song was Michael Ostin’s (head of the A&R department at Warner Bros. Records).

In author Warren Zane’s book Revolutions in Sound: Warner Bros. Records, the First 50 Years, he recalled:

“I had the good fortune of finding material that Madonna really responded to, Love Don’t Live Here Anymore for instance, which was the old Rose Royce record. I was driving into work one day and heard it on the radio, I called producer Nile Rodgers and Madonna, they were in the studio. I said, ‘I have an idea, you know the old Rose Royce record, ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore‘? Why don’t you try and record a version of it for Like a Virgin?” Initially both Rodgers and Madonna were apprehensive of tackling an already well-known ballad, but in the last minute they decided that if Madonna wanted to bring diversity to the album, there could be no better song than ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’.

Today in Madonna History: February 5, 1985

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On February 5 1985, Madonna’s Like A Virgin was certified 3x platinum (for sales of 3 million units) in the USA.

Today in Madonna History: January 10, 1985

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On January 10 1985, Madonna began filming the Material Girl music video in Los Angeles, California.  The video was directed by Mary Lambert. Madonna met Sean Penn on the set.

In a 1987 interview with New York Daily News, Madonna talked about the concept for the video:

“My favorite scene in all of Marilyn Monroe’s movies is when she does that dance sequence for ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’. And when it came time to do the video for the song Material Girl, I said, I can just redo that whole scene and it will be perfect. Marilyn was made into something not human in a way, and I can relate to that. Her sexuality was something everyone was obsessed with and that I can relate to. And there were certain things about her vulnerability that I’m curious about and attracted to.”

Reflecting on the song, Madonna told author J. Randy Taraborrelli:

“I can’t completely disdain the song and the video, because they certainly were important to my career. But talk about the media hanging on a phrase and misinterpreting the damn thing as well. I didn’t write that song, you know, and the video was about how the girl rejected diamonds and money. But God forbid irony should be understood. So when I’m ninety, I’ll still be the Material Girl. I guess it’s not so bad. Lana Turner was the Sweater Girl until the day she died.”

Today in Madonna History: November 22, 1984

On November 22 1984, Madonna graced the cover of her very first Rolling Stone magazine with issue 435. Playing with the success of Like A Virgin, the headline read: Madonna Goes All The Way. Madonna went on to achieve the most covers of any female between 1984 and 2009.

 

Today in Madonna History: November 17, 1984

On November 17 1984, the title-track and lead single from Madonna’s Like A Virgin album entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #48 – the week’s highest debut – hot on the heels of its commercial release as a 7-inch single in the preceding sales week. A commercial 12-inch single was also issued in North America during the chart week ending November 17th, with Like A Virgin pouncing onto the Hot Dance/Disco Sales chart at #26 in the November 24th issue of Billboard.

Created by the successful pop songwriting team of Tom Kelly & Billy Steinberg and produced by Nile Rodgers, the demo of Like A Virgin – sung by Kelly – was initially introduced to Madonna by Warner Bros. Records’ A&R rep Michael Ostin (son of then-CEO of Warner, Mo Ostin).

In a 2009 interview for Rolling Stone magazine, Madonna recalled her impressions upon first listening to the demos of Like A Virgin and its follow-up single, Material Girl:

“I liked them both because they were ironic and provocative at the same time but also unlike me. I am not a materialistic person, and I certainly wasn’t a virgin, and, by the way, how can you be like a virgin? I liked the play on words; I thought they were clever. They’re so geeky, they’re cool. I never realized they would become my signature songs, especially the second one.”

As audio engineer Jason Corsaro noted in a 2007 interview with Sound On Sound magazine, although she officially ceded production credit to Rodgers, Madonna was actively engaged in all aspects of the recording sessions for the album and title-track:

“Nile was there most of the time, but she was there all of the time. She never left.”

Like A Virgin made a high-profile debut via live performance during the first annual MTV Video Music Awards on September 14th, 1984.

With previous single Lucky Star still ascending the North American charts, however, the official release of Like A Virgin was held back by Warner Bros. Records in a bid to allow the former (along with its parent album) to reach its full chart potential. This strategy proved successful, with Madonna earning her first U.S. Top-5 single with Lucky Star in the October 20th issue of Billboard, while Like A Virgin would reach #1 in the December 22nd issue.

Today in Madonna History: November 12, 1984

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On November 12 1984, Madonna’s Like A Virgin album was released by Sire Records.  The album was re-released worldwide in 1985, to include the bonus track, Into the Groove.

The original track listing for Madonna’s second album included:

Material Girl
Angel
Like A Virgin
Over & Over
Love Don’t Live Here Anymore
Dress You Up
Shoo-Bee-Doo
Pretender
Stay

The cover sleeve and album insert images were shot by Steven Meisel. The first shot in this post was used for the album cover. The rest of the photos in this post are outtakes from the same photo shoot.

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