On October 12 1985, Madonna’s Gambler debuted at #20 on the UK Singles Chart. The song was included on the Vision Quest soundtrack (along with Crazy For You) and released by Geffen Records. Madonna’s record company, Sire Records, prevented Gambler from being released as a single in the USA.
After two weeks on the chart, Gambler peaked at #4.
With Gambler‘s success, Madonna became the first female artist to rack up 8 UK top-ten singles in one calendar year.
Jay’s Note: I’d love to see Gambler appear on a future greatest hits collection. Madonna could totally rock this song out on guitar on a future tour. Fingers crossed!
On October 3 1985, Geffen Records released Gambler as a single in Europe. It was the second Madonna single released from the Vision Quest soundtrack.
Concerned about potential overexposure, Warner Brothers successfully managed to suppress a North American release of the track, although the music video was serviced to MTV. It was issued as a single in most other major markets – including Japan, Australasia & South America.
Gambler was written by Madonna, produced by Jellybean Benitez and arranged by Stephen Bray. Extended and instrumental remixes by Benitez were also issued commercially outside North America.
On July 16 1985, Madonna’s hit single, Crazy For You, was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of one million copies of the single in United States—the requirement for a gold single prior to 1989.
On February 15 1985, the Vision Quest original motion picture soundtrack was released on Geffen Records. To promote the release, music videos for Crazy For You and Gambler premiered on MTV on the same day.
Despite Gambler only being released as a single in markets outside North America, its video received moderate rotation from MTV nonetheless – possibly due to the fact that there were no competing videos produced for the final two singles from Like A Virgin.
Gambler was Madonna’s last entirely self-written single until the 2007 release of the charity single, Hey You. Other singles for which she received sole writing credit include Everybody (which was in fact a Stephen Bray co-write–however a publishing arrangement granted him sole credit for another of their collaborations, Ain’t No Big Deal, in trade), Burning Up, Lucky Star and Sidewalk Talk. Album tracks Think Of Me, I Know It and Shoo-Bee-Doo were also entirely self-written.
A third Madonna song that was recorded for the Vision Quest soundtrack, Warning Signs, was eventually dropped from the project. A cassette copy of the song, which is also credited to Madonna alone, was submitted to the Library of Congress for copyright registration in February of 1984, at the same time as Gambler.
With Stephen Bray having confirmed his involvement in the song’s production (which he described as “a cool synth track”), it appears that its production credits would mirror those of Gambler, which was produced by Jellybean Benitez and arranged by Bray. Given that early press for Vision Quest (including an on-set interview with Madonna herself) mentioned the inclusion of three new songs, footage of Madonna performing Warning Signs was likely filmed but ended up on the cutting room floor. Surprisingly, this additional footage has never resurfaced and the song has never leaked.
On May 11 1985, Crazy For You hit number-one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the U.S. for one week. The track had spent the two previous weeks in the runner-up position behind the all-star single, We Are The World. In Canada, Crazy For You took a few weeks longer but also managed to displace USA For Africa’s charity track to become the county’s number-one single on May 25th.
The song was Madonna’s second chart-topping hit, and her first ballad to be released as a single.
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?