Today in Madonna History: October 19, 1981

On October 19 1981, Madonna performed at Uncle Sam’s Blues Club in Roslyn, NY. Her manager at the time, Camille Barbone, had hired photographer George DuBose to capture Madonna’s two sets that evening.

Madonna’s band during the show consisted of Bob Riley on drums (later replaced by Steve Bray), John Kumnick on bass, Jon Gordon on guitar (later replaced by Paul Pesco) & David Frank on keyboards. When Madonna terminated her management agreement with Barbone in early 1982, she continued her working relationship with Bray, Pesco & Frank.

Steve Bray would co-write tracks that would appear on Madonna’s demo tape which landed her a recording contract with Sire Records later that year, and their collaboration remained successful throughout the 80’s.

Paul Pesco played guitar (along with Madonna herself) on the aforementioned demo and would also appear on Madonna’s self-titled debut album and her first concert tour, The Virgin Tour. Years later, he played on the Erotica album and joined Madonna’s touring band again for The Girlie Show in 1993.

David Frank, who soon found success as half of the electronic music duo The System, co-wrote an early version of Crimes Of Passion with Madonna before she decided to rewrite the music with Bray. The System’s hit In Times Of Passion is based on his ideas for the song but feature new lyrics from The System’s vocalist, Mic Murphy. Frank was also involved with the mysterious Otto Von Wernherr demos, believed to have been recorded in early 1982 prior Madonna’s deal with Sire, as he is credited for arrangement on the 1986 Japanese 12-inch release of Cosmic Climb (his name was subsequently omitted from Wernherr’s later releases).

Interestingly, The System’s other half, Mic Murphy, co-wrote the unreleased Erotica-era demo Dear Father with Madonna in the early 90’s. Pesco, who may have played guitar on this demo given his involvement during the album sessions, was also the guitarist for The System.

Today in Madonna History: October 3, 1987

On October 3 1987, Madonna’s second single from the Who’s That Girl film soundtrack, Causing A Commotion, debuted at #24 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in the USA.

This is what Camille Paglia had to say about the song:

“I recall my stunned admiration as I sat in the theatre in 1987 and first experienced the crashing, descending chords of Madonna’s Causing a Commotion, which opened her dreadful movie Who’s That Girl. If you want to hear the essence of modernity, listen to those chords, infernal, apocalyptic, and grossly sensual. This is the authentic voice of fin de siècle.”

Today in Madonna History: June 28, 1986

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On June 28 1986, Madonna’s Papa Don’t Preach debuted at #42 on the Billboard Hot 100. The single was released on June 11.

Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine said that “with songs like Papa Don’t Preach, Madonna made the transition from pop tart to consummate artist, joining the ranks of 80s icons like Michael Jackson and Prince.”

Today in Madonna History: May 16, 1988

On May 16 1988, Madonna’s Spotlight reached a peak of #3 on the Oricon International Singles Chart in Japan. The single was released on 7″ vinyl and 3″ mini CD single by Sire and Warner-Pioneer Japan on April 25 1988.

Spotlight was originally planned to be included on the True Blue album, but was cut from the line-up and eventually appeared on Madonna’s You Can Dance remix album, released on November 17 1988.

The song was written by Madonna, Stephen Bray and Curtis Hudson.  The song was remixed by Shep Pettibone, with additional mixing done by John “Jellybean” Benitez.

Today in Madonna History: February 1, 1986

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On February 1 1986, John “Jellybean” Benitez’ Sidewalk Talk peaked at #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the USA.

The song was written by Madonna, arranged by Jellybean and Stephen Bray, produced by Jellybean and included the uncredited backing vocals of Catharine Buchanan and Madonna.

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Today in Madonna History: December 22, 1985

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On December 22 1985, John “Jellybean” Benitez’ Sidewalk Talk (featuring Madonna) debuted at #48 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Disco chart (not to be confused with the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Single Sales chart). The hit dance single peaked at #1 on the Dance/Disco chart on February 2 1986.

Sidewalk Talk was written by Madonna, arranged by Jellybean and Stephen Bray and mixed by Jellybean.

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Today in Madonna History: October 18, 1986

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On October 18 1986, Madonna’s True Blue debuted at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales chart. True Blue spent 10 weeks on the chart, eventually peaking at #4 on November 15.

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