Today in Madonna History: September 13, 2009

On September 13 2009, Madonna opened the 2009 MTV VMA’s with a heartfelt tribute to Michael Jackson after his untimely passing a few months earlier.

Today in Madonna History: August 28, 2003

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On August 28 2003, Madonna performed Hollywood with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera as the opening number for the 20th annual MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY and upstaged everyone at the ceremony when she shares a passionate open-mouth kiss with them. Missy Elliott also joined the ladies on stage – post-kiss.

Madonna commented on the uproar surrounding the infamous kiss during an appearance on Oprah several weeks later.  “I don’t know why people are making such a big deal about it,” she said. “Hasn’t anyone seen two girls kiss before? It was a friendly kiss – it really was. If Britney looks as though she is kissing me in an aggressive way it was a surprise to me.” She added, “I’m a showgirl. After 20 years in the business, we learn to roll with the punches. If someone’s coming at you with lips slightly parted, you kiss them.”

Today in Madonna History: July 13, 1985

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On July 13 1985, Madonna performed at the Live Aid benefit concert at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, PA.

Madonna’s set included Into The Groove, Holiday, and a brand new song that she had written with Patrick Leonard during The Virgin Tour, Love Makes The World Go Round. The latter song marked the first known songwriting collaboration in a partnership with Leonard that would prove to be long lasting and especially fruitful. The track would resurface, among other songs co-produced by the pair, on Madonna’s True Blue album a year later.

Madonna also joined the Thompson Twins on stage for a cover The Beatles’ Revolution.

Today in Madonna History: July 2, 2005

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On July 2 2005, Madonna performed Like A Prayer, Ray Of Light and Music in front of an audience of over 200,000 during the Live 8 benefit concert at London’s Hyde Park. Part of a series of concerts, many of which were held simultaneously at various locations around the world, Live 8 was broadcast live on television and radio to an estimated global audience of two billion.

Madonna is one of only eight acts – and the only female artist – to have been a headlining performer at both 1985’s Live Aid and 2005’s Live 8. Other returning performers were U2, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Sting, The Who, George Michael, and organizer, Bob Geldof. It took a bit of arm twisting on Geldof’s part to win Madonna’s commitment the second time around, as Madonna explained to MTV’s John Norris in a backstage interview after her performance:

Bob Geldof sent me a letter asking ‘will you do Live 8?’ and he didn’t really tell me anything and I went ‘Oh common dude, you gotta do better than that! Prove to me that it’s gonna make a difference and I’ll be there for you.’ And he did!”

In what turned out to be one of the event’s most moving moments, Madonna was introduced to the stage by Geldof with Birhan Woldu – the starving African child featured in the CBC News report twenty years earlier who had prompted Geldof to organize Live Aid. When Geldof had asked Woldu which artist she would like to appear with on stage, she immediately selected Madonna for the simple reason that she was the only artist on the bill that she had ever heard of. In a later interview, Woldu recalled the experience:

The crowd seemed to stretch for miles, but I’d been telling myself not to be nervous. There was just a huge picture of me as a child on the screen. That photo still upsets me. It was taken 20 years ago, when both my mother and sister died. I knew I must be strong for them but when I walked on I could feel my body shaking. Then Madonna took my hand and looked into my eyes, the crowd roared and I realised the world wanted to help my continent. I felt myself grow stronger.”

Madonna’s memorable performance at Live 8 was largely praised by mainstream media and fans alike.

Today in Madonna History: February 20, 1995

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On February 20 1995, Madonna performed Bedtime Story live for the first and only time at the Brit Awards. The performance was set to a remix of the song by Junior Vasquez. Madonna wore a white Versace dress and long hair extensions, an image similar to her 1995 Versace advertisement campaign spread.

Madonna invited Björk to feature in the performance but Björk declined the offer, later stating: “I was supposed to get [Madonna’s] personal number and call her up, but it just didn’t feel right. I’d love to meet her accidentally, really drunk in a bar. It’s just all that formality that confuses me.”

Today in Madonna History: February 13, 1995

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On February 13 1995, Madonna made a surprise appearance on CBS-TV’s Late Show with David Letterman.

In her first visit back to the Ed Sullivan Theater after her controversial 1994 appearance, Madonna presented Letterman with a Valentines Day gift.

And no, it was not her underpants…

Today in Madonna History: February 12, 1984

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On February 12 1984, Madonna was featured on The Dance Show, a syndicated American television variety show.

She appeared in a segment from New York performing Holiday and Borderline, followed by a brief interview in which she introduced her brother and backup dancer, Christopher. Borderline was also included in a second episode that aired a few months later on April 25th, as the single was climbing the charts.

Despite an extensive list of promotional appearances for her first album, this was Madonna’s only known television studio performance of Borderline until she revisited the song during a 2016 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

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