Today in Madonna History: November 11, 1985

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On November 11 1985, Madonna Live: The Virgin Tour was released on home video in France and the U.K. The was was filmed on May 25th, 1985 at Cobo Arena in Madonna’s home town of Detroit, Michigan. The concert film was directed by Daniel Kleinman while the music was produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard, making this their first commercially released collaboration.

At the beginning of the video Madonna declares:

“I went to New York. I had a dream. I wanted to be a big star, I didn’t know anybody, I wanted to dance, I wanted to sing, I wanted to do all those things, I wanted to make people happy, I wanted to be famous, I wanted everybody to love me. I wanted to be a star. I worked really hard, and my dream came true.”

An alternate cut of the live performance of Dress You Up was issued as the music video for the single several months before the release of the film, while the live performance of Like A Virgin from the film was serviced to MTV in conjunction with the home video release. Both videos were nominated for Best Choreography at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.

For unknown reasons, the release excluded the setlist’s performances of Angel, Borderline and Burning Up. At the time of its release, home videos were often priced according to their running time, and it was not unusual for concert films of that era to be edited down to a more marketable length – in this case, one hour. This would have allowed a price point that was more accessible to her age demographic and offers a possible explanation for the exclusion of these performances.

Though the concert film was also released on laserdisc in some countries, to date it has sadly not been officially reissued for DVD or digital download.

Today in Madonna History: October 3, 1985

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On October 3 1985, Madonna’s second single from the motion picture Vision Quest, Gambler was released by Geffen Records in select markets.

Gambler was entirely self-written by Madonna and produced by John “Jellybean” Benitez.

Gambler was never released in the United States, but it went to #4 in the UK.  The single also reached the top-ten in the charts of Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Ireland, Netherlands and Norway.

The music video for the song is an excerpt from the film.

Madonna has performed the song only once, on her Virgin Tour in 1985.

Alex Henderson from Allmusic called the song “an ultra-infectious gem that, unfortunately, isn’t on any of the Material Girl’s CDs” and felt that Gambler should have been a big hit.  

Would you like to see Madonna perform “Gambler” on a future concert tour?

Today in Madonna History: June 11, 1985

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On June 11 1985, Madonna ended The Virgin Tour with a sold-out concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Today in Madonna History: June 1, 1985

On June 1 1985, Warner Bros. and Sire Records took out a centerfold ad in Billboard magazine to celebrate the resounding success of Madonna’s first concert trek, The Virgin Tour.

Featuring the cover image from her then-current single, Angel, as a backdrop, the spread cheekily alluded to Madonna’s “virgin” moniker with the caption:

“You were wonderful! We’re proud of you. Congratulations on your first tour.
                                                               – Warner Bros. and Sire records.”

Today in Madonna History: April 10, 1985

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On April 10 1985, Madonna’s Virgin Tour opened with 3 sold-out concerts at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington.

During a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, interviewer Austin Scaggs asked Madonna regarding her feelings and emotions during the tour, since it was the first time she was playing in arenas. Madonna replied saying, “That whole tour was crazy, because I went from playing CBGB and the Mudd Club to playing sporting arenas,” she told the magazine. “I played a small theater in Seattle, and the girls had flap skirts on and the tights cut off below their knees and lace gloves and rosaries and bows in their hair and big hoop earrings. I was like, ‘This is insane!’ After Seattle, all of the shows were moved to arenas.”

Madonna had three shows in Seattle – April 10, 12 and 13 – and all three were sellouts by the time she took the stage that first night. The Beastie Boys opened for Madonna and they weren’t well received by the pro-Madonna crowd. The show was a year before “Licensed to Ill” was released.

Their 30-minute set got off to a bad start when one of the Beastie Boys declared himself King of the Paramount, and generally made the pro-Madonna audience feel like a swarm of hillbillies, P-I pop music critic Gene Stout wrote in his review.

“Dressed in what looked like a Boy George outfit, she looked reluctant, almost scared, and kept her eyes on the ground as she and her small entourage swept past a modest gathering of fans,” Stout wrote.

Madonna started the show with Dress You Up, followed with Holiday, and performed Borderline for the first time live as her seventh song. Madonna ended by debuting Material Girl as her encore.

Today in Madonna History: May 23, 1985

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On May 23 1985, Madonna performed her Virgin Tour concert in front of a sold-out crowd of 16,000 fans at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. The show generated $238,264 in ticket sales.

Here’s a great photo of the Beastie Boys hanging outside Maple Leaf Gardens before the show (on Church Street just north of Carlton):

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Maple Leaf Gardens was primarily a hockey and concert venue from 1931 until 2001. The building sat dormant until November 2011, when it reopened as a Loblaws grocery store.  To celebrate the history of the building, Loblaws kept centre ice, created art out of some of the seats and commemorated important dates on some of the supporting columns.  Here is one of those columns:

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Jay’s note: I’d like to say that I made a special trip to Loblaws just to take this photo, but it’s the long-weekend here in Canada — and I really wanted one of their amazing chocolate dip donuts!

Today in Madonna History: June 1, 1985

On June 1 1985, Warner Bros. and Sire Records took out a centerfold ad in Billboard magazine to celebrate the resounding success of Madonna’s first concert trek, The Virgin Tour.

Featuring the cover image from her current hit single Angel as its backdrop, the spread cheekily alluded to Madonna’s “virgin” moniker with its caption:

“You were wonderful! We’re proud of you. Congratulations on your first tour.
– Warner Bros. and Sire Records.”

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