Today in Madonna History: July 27, 1983

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On July 27 1983, Madonna’s eponymous debut album was released by Sire Records. The record was renamed Madonna: The First Album for the 1985 international re-release of the album.

The album was released with 8 tracks (produced by John “Jellybean” Benitez, Mark Kamins and Reggie Lucas):

  1. Lucky Star
  2. Borderline
  3. Burning Up
  4. I Know It
  5. Holiday
  6. Think of Me
  7. Physical Attraction
  8. Everybody

Five singles were released from The First Album:

  1. Everybody (October 6 1982)
  2. Burning Up (March 9 1983)
  3. Holiday (September 7 1983 – UK)
  4. Lucky Star (September 8 1983)
  5. Borderline (February 15 1984)

“Madonna was unhappy with the whole album, so I went in and sweetened up a lot of music for her, adding some guitars to ‘Lucky Star’, some voices, some magic… I just wanted to do the best job I could do for her. When we would playback ‘Holiday’ or ‘Lucky Star’, you could see that she was overwhelmed by how great it all sounded. You wanted to help her, you know? As much as she could be a bitch, when you were in a groove with her, it was very cool, very creative.”

— John “Jellybean” Benitez talking about Madonna and the album.

“I’ve refrained over the years in addressing aspects of Madonna’s career because I’m not a person who likes negative discussions. But what I will say is that in Madonna’s ascent to fame and fortune, there’s been a pretty vicious competition for credit in being involved. In other words, someone will say, ‘I launched Madonna.’ If I talk to a lot of people today, I will say I was Madonna’s first producer. I produced six of the eight tracks on her first record. I would say nine times out of 10, their response will be, ‘Oh yeah, I thought Jellybean did that.’ But Jellybean didn’t do that. Jellybean was a remixer, and we didn’t have time to remix records. It wasn’t something that I was interested in doing. Somewhere in this process of publicists and personal relationships, somehow he came out as the guy. Just for the record, one tires in a lifetime of hearing someone taking credit for something that you’ve done. Jellybean produced ‘Holiday’ and he remixed a couple of tracks, but remixing tracks for radio isn’t the same thing as producing one of the major breakout pop stars of the 1980s…it’s almost like I was fired or something. I wasn’t fired. I finished the record…and they put it out and sold a bunch of records. And everybody else ran around trying to take credit for it because it was so big that they couldn’t help themselves. … I must say, Madonna was great to work with in the studio. She really put in the work. She was a creative person.”

— Reggie Lucas, producer of Madonna’s first album.

Although its authenticity is unconfirmed, this is said to be an early track list of the album.

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: August 8, 1984

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On August 8 1984, Madonna’s Lucky Star was released.  Lucky Star became Madonna’s first U.S. top five hit (No. 4), and the first in a string of 17 consecutive U.S. top fives. The video was directed by Arthur Pierson, a stark performance piece bringing together her brother Christopher Ciccone and Erica Bell as backup dancers. The clip was filled with black rubber jelly bracelets, lace and a certain gyrating belly button.

Lucky Star was written by Madonna and produced by Reggie Lucas and Jellybean Benitez.

Today in Madonna History: April 16, 2016

On April 16 2016, Madonna’s 1985 Japanese mini-album, Like A Virgin & Other Big Hits, was re-issued on pink vinyl for Record Store Day.

The four track collection included the following:

  • Like A Virgin (Extended Dance Remix)
  • Holiday (Original Version)
  • Lucky Star (Extended Dance Remix)
  • Borderline (Extended Dance Remix)

Were you in the line-ups like I was? How festive was it to see so many vinyl fans? Did you score a copy of Like A Virgin & Other Big Hits on Record Store Day, or did you have to order through eBay? – Jay

Today in Madonna History: September 8, 1983

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On September 8 1983, Madonna’s Lucky Star single was released in the UK.  Although Lucky Star was released promotionally as a double A-side with Holiday in the US in September 1983, it was not released commercially in North America until August 1984 as the final single from the Madonna album.

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Today in Madonna History: October 20, 1984

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On October 20 1984, Madonna’s Lucky Star hit #4 the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart in the USA.

Jellybean Benitez said this of the Lucky Star recording session:

“She was unhappy with the whole damn thing, so I went in and sweetened up a lot of music for her, adding some guitars to Lucky Star, some voices, some magic.  I just wanted to do the best job I could do for her. When we would play back Holiday or Lucky Star, you could see that she was overwhelmed by how great it all sounded. You wanted to help her, you know? As much as she could be a bitch, when you were in the groove with her, it was very cool, very creative.”

Today in Madonna History: August 27, 1983

Lucky Star-Holiday US Promo 550 Lucky Star-Holiday Promo label A Lucky Star-Holiday Promo label B

On August 27 1983, Holiday/Lucky Star made its debut on Billboard’s Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in the U.S., entering at #31.

The promo-only double A-side single was serviced to clubs by Sire/Warner in order to gauge public interest before deciding which track should be promoted to radio. Although technically serving as the B-side, Holiday was given top billing for its chart entry when it proved to be the more popular selection with club DJ’s. It was subsequently issued as Madonna’s third commercial single in North America, while Lucky Star was released as her fifth single a year later.

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