Today in Madonna History: January 5, 1989

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On January 5 1989, Madonna filed for divorce from Sean Penn citing “irreconcilable differences” at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Los Angeles, California.

Madonna’s publicist at the time, Liz Rosenberg, made this statement:

“I can only tell you that there will definitely be no further comment from either Mr. Penn or Madonna on this subject.”

Today in Madonna History: December 28, 1988

On December 28 1988, Madonna filed assault charges against Sean Penn at the sheriff’s office in Malibu, California.

Versions of what happened on that date include:

  • Sean scaled the wall surrounding their Malibu home and started a quarrel with Madonna in their bedroom
  • Madonna threatened to leave the house
  • Sean attempted to tie Madonna to a chair with the cord from a lamp, but she fled the bedroom
  • Sean chased Madonna into living room and then tied her to a chair using twine
  • Sean threatened to cut off her hair
  • The police report indicates that Sean was “drinking liquor straight from the bottle” and that the abuse went on for several hours, according to Madonna
  • Madonna was smacked several times while bound to the chair
  • Sean eventually untied Madonna and she fled the house in her car and drove to the sheriff’s office

When she arrived at the sheriff’s office, Lieutenant Bill McSweeny is quoted as saying, “I hardly recognized her as Madonna. She was weeping, her lip was bleeding and she had obviously been struck.”

Sean was charged with inflicting “corporal injury and traumatic conditions” on Madonna as well as committing “battery”.

Madonna filed for divorce a few days later and withdrew the assault charges against Sean.

On December 17 2015, Madonna made this statement about the above mentioned rumours/speculation:

“I am aware of the allegations that have surfaced over the years accusing Sean of incidents of physical assault and abuse against me, which purportedly resulted in Sean’s arrest for domestic assault and battery against me. Sean has never struck me, ‘tied me up,’ or physically assaulted me, and any report to the contrary is completely outrageous, malicious, reckless and false.”

So .. according to Madonna in 2015, these stories are false. But, if you listen to Till Death Do Us Part and piece the story together bit-by-bit — you might think she’s re-writing history to save a long-time friend and life-long love. Either way, it’s her decision ..

Till Death Do Us Part:

Our luck is running out of time
You’re not in love with me anymore
I wish that it would change, but it won’t, if you don’t
Our luck is running out of time
You’re not in love with me anymore
I wish that it would change, but it won’t
‘Cause you don’t love me no more

You need so much but not from me
Turn your back in my hour of need
Something’s wrong but you pretend you don’t see
I think I interrupt your life
When you laugh it cuts me just like a knife
I’m not your friend, I’m just your little wife

They never laugh, not like before
She takes the keys, he breaks the door
She cannot stay here anymore
He’s not in love with her anymore

The bruises they will fade away
You hit so hard with the things you say
I will not stay to watch your hate as it grows
You’re not in love with someone else
You don’t even love yourself
Still I wish you’d ask me not to go

He takes a drink, she goes inside
He starts to scream, the vases fly
He wishes that she wouldn’t cry
He’s not in move with her anymore

He makes demands, she draws the line
He starts the fight, she starts the lie
But what is truth when something dies
He’s not in love with her anymore

You’re not in love with someone else
You don’t even love yourself
Still I wish you’d ask me not to go

She’s had enough, she says the end
But she’ll come back, she knows it then
A chance to start it all again
Till death do us part

Today in Madonna History: December 14, 1987

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On December 14 1987, Madonna and Sean Penn appeared on the cover of People magazine.

Everyone Said It Wouldn’t Last… …And It Didn’t. After Two Years of Marriage, Madonna and Sean Penn Go Their Separate Ways.  

Well, you can’t blame Judge John Merrick. It was Merrick, now a retired justice of the peace, who performed the August 1985 marriage of Madonna Louise Ciccone and Sean “KO” Penn. “I felt they were serious about their vows,” says Merrick. “I remember a line from the ceremony: ‘Although there will be times that your moods may falter, and you’ll question each other’s motives, the faith and love that you share will help to show that your inconsistency is only for the moment.’ ”   Trouble is, for Sean, 27, and Madonna, 29, that moment seemed to persist for a little over two years. Now, after 27 months of holy matrimony and unholy acrimony, the material girl and her rebel without a pause are positively, absolutely, this-time-they’re-not-kidding headed for that crowded community called Splitsville. “The marriage is definitely over,” says Madonna’s spokesperson, Liz Rosenberg. Seconds Penn’s publicist, Lois Smith, “The two of them have called off the marriage.”

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Today in Madonna History: October 18, 1986

On October 18 1986, Madonna appeared on the cover NO.1 magazine (UK), to promote Shanghai Surprise.

Today in Madonna History: August 13, 1985

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On August 13 1985, Madonna and Sean Penn got their marriage license.

Today in Madonna History: June 24, 1985

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On June 24 1985, Madonna and Sean Penn announced that they would marry on August 16, 1985.

Today in Madonna History: May 31, 1986

On May 31 1986, Madonna’s Live To Tell hit #1 for 3 weeks on US Hot Adult Contemporary singles chart.

The haunting and dramatic ballad, written and produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard, was the first commercially released collaboration between the pair – a songwriting partnership that is viewed by many fans as one of her most creatively successful.

Leonard had previously been involved with Madonna’s Virgin Tour as musical director, and when Madonna agreed to participate in Live Aid in the Summer of 1985, she asked him to collaborate on a new song for the performance, which evolved into Love Makes The World Go Round.

Although both songs would find their way on to Madonna’s next studio album, True Blue, at the time of Live To Tell’s release the album’s title had not yet been decided. Instead, the song was used to promote Sean Penn’s film At Close Range, in which it was featured alongside an original score composed by Leonard.

He had initially composed the music that evolved into Live To Tell for another film he had been invited to score for Paramount, titled Fire With Fire. The producers of the film passed on the theme. Leonard recalled the subsequent series of events that led to the song’s completion in The Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Random House:

“Madonna said ‘This song would be great for Sean’s new movie.’ She wrote the lyrics–she just wrote them on the spot, which is what we always do. I don’t think we’ve ever taken more than three hours to complete a song from start to finish. She sang it on the demo only once and left with the cassette. That day I went to work with Michael Jackson on some transcriptions for material he was writing for the Bad album. The phone rang at Michael’s and it was Sean. He said ‘I’m over at the director’s house and Madonna just brought the song over. We love it and we’d like to talk to you about it.’ … We re-cut the song, but we used the same vocal. She only sang it once for the demo and that was the vocal we used because it was so innocent and so shy. She had a legal pad in her hand and you can hear the paper. It’s as raw as raw can be and that’s part of what gave it all its charm.”

When the demo recording of Live To Tell eventually surfaced, it became evident that Madonna had in fact re-recorded the first verse, but all remaining vocals do indeed appear to have been carried over from the demo to the final mix (along with a generously added dose of reverb to smooth over the rough edges of the demo take).

Given the song’s dark undercurrents and unresolved narrative, it was a bold choice for a single release. It marked a dramatic shift from the yearning love song, Crazy For You – her only other ballad to have been issued as a single at the time. But any radio programmers who were hesitant to consider Madonna as a serious artist simply couldn’t deny the artistry of the song and nor could record buyers, with the combined support sending Live To Tell straight to the top of the pop charts.

Live To Tell was Madonna’s third #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, and her first #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, where it would reign for three weeks.

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