Today in Madonna History: December 10, 1991

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On December 10 1991, Madonna was honoured with the Award Of Courage by the American Foundation For AIDS Research (AMFAR) at a Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel dinner, in Beverly Hills, California.

At the event, Madonna discussed the rumours that she had tested positive for AIDS:

“When the rumors surfaced that I was HIV-positive, I thought, well, someone’s really bored today . . . let’s make up a real juicy story. I tried to ignore it but it wouldn’t go away. . . .

Instead of pointing the finger at people and having witch hunts and ostracizing each other for lifestyles and sexual preferences, we should all be uniting to fight this disease . . . but we’re not. Because we’re afraid. We’re scared out of our skins to face the truth that AIDS is not a gay disease, it’s a human disease.

Now I’m not HIV-positive, but what if I were? I would be more afraid of how society would treat me for having the disease than the actual disease itself. If this is what I have to deal with for my involvement in fighting this epidemic, then so be it.

I’m not afraid to be associated with people who are HIV-positive, and I am not afraid to love people who are HIV-positive. Because their ordeal is more important than mine, because their courage is larger than mine, because what they’re facing is real. And if we can learn to deal with real, and our fears, then I’m hopeful that we can conquer this disease.”

The event drew 850 guests, and raised $750,000 for AmFAR. Performers included Patti Austin, k.d. lang, Barry Manilow, Michael McDonald, David Pack and Rosie O’Donnell, who did a hilarious send-up of the Madonna’s Vogue.

Today in Madonna History: December 6, 2004

On December 6 2004, Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour corset made by French designer Christian Lacroix was put on display as part of the inauguration celebration of the Villa du Marais hotel. Seventeen rooms of the hotel were filled with Christian’s most impressive creations.

Madonna had two variations of the corset: gold and lilac. She wore the corset during Vogue, Nobody Knows Me and Frozen.

Today in Madonna History: August 7, 1991

On August 7 1991, Madonna attended the Paris is Burning premiere in Los Angeles.

According to IMDB, the film is about:

A chronicle of New York’s drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.

Today in Madonna History: May 25, 2004

On May 25 2004, Rolling Stone magazine published a review of Madonna’s Re-Invention World Tour with the headline, “Madonna Reinvents herself. Amid images of war and peace, pop star shows she can sing.”

Here’s the review by Barry Walters:

After twenty years in the limelight, Madonna is expected to cause controversy and reinvent herself for every new tour. So for the May 24th Los Angeles opening of her Re-Invention world trek, Madonna did the most unexpected thing she could: She came back as a great concert singer.

Even the most diehard Madonna fan will concede that her live performances have almost without exception been plagued by a multitude of missed notes, breathy passages, and, as of late, fake British accents. But while Mariah and Whitney have of been losing the acrobatic vocal dexterity and lung power on which their reputations rest, forty-five-year-old Madonna, whom few have ever taken seriously as a musician, has never sounded better than she did during the first of several gigs in her adopted West Coast home. Whether rocking out with classic black Les Paul in hand during a metallic rendition of her early club hit “Burning Up,” or performing “Like a Prayer” behind a screen-projected gospel choir, Madonna belted, and did not once seemed strained. In the midst of a $1 million production festooned with a walkway that jutted out from the stage and over the audience, massive moving video screens, a dozen dancers, a bagpipe player, a stunt skateboarder and a whole lot of emotionally charged anti-war imagery, the focus was nevertheless on Madonna, and how she’s matured into a truly great pop singer.

Opening with a yoga-trained twist on her famous Louis XIV-inspired MTV Video Music Awards rendition of “Vogue” and ending on a kilt-wearing finale of “Holiday” against a video backdrop of national flags that eventually morphed into one, the show was thematically simpler and more focused than her last several productions.

The barbarism of war and the necessity of love were at the heart of the entire show, and both played off each other, sometimes for ironic and decidedly uneasy effect. The original military-themed video footage of “American Life” that the singer withheld at the start of the Iraq war was finally unveiled, and then expanded upon during “Express Yourself,” where Madonna sang her anthem of unbridled, intimate communication in front of dancers dressed as soldiers and goose-stepping with twirling rifles.

By contrast, Madonna closed an extended acoustic section of the show with a straightforward and thoroughly committed rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” as images of war and poverty-ravaged children eventually gave way to footage of a Muslim boy and his Israeli counterpart smiling as they walked with their arms wrapped around each other.

The heaviness of much of the imagery was balanced by Madonna’s own presence, which seemed remarkably fun-loving and self-assured for the opening night of her most technically complex production. Only when she strapped on an acoustic or electric guitar during several songs and repeatedly glanced at her left hand to make sure it was playing the proper chords did she seem at all nervous. “How many people out there really think that I am the Material Girl?” she asked during a break in her most iconic early smash as she strummed with much deliberation.

For the last several songs, Madonna and her dancers donned black and white kilts, an apparent nod to husband Guy Ritchie’s Scottish heritage, and black T-shirts that read “Kabbalists Do It Better,” a cheeky reference to both her religious studies and the “Italians Do It Better” T-shirt she wore during her video for “Papa Don’t Preach,” a song that was performed without the “near-naked pregnant women” described in pre-tour reports of the show. In a number dedicated for the “fans that’ve stood by me for the last twenty years,” she sang her earliest hit ballad, “Crazy For You,” earnestly and without contrivance.

Madonna’s continued relevance was impressive, but it was even more striking that she’s putting more love and genuine passion into her spectacle than ever.

 

Today in Madonna History: April 10, 2017

On April 10 2017, TMZ reported that Shep Pettibone is taking legal action against WB Music Corp. for withholding his royalties (since 2012) for Madonna’s hit single, Vogue.

Here’s what TMZ reported:

The famed producer behind Madonna’s Vogue says he’s getting the short end of the stick — to the tune of half a million bucks — because the record label’s out for payback.

Shep Pettibone, producer extraordinaire — who’s worked with Madge, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul and a ton of other artists — says WB Music Corp owes him a ton of back royalties for the 1990 mega hit.

It appears everything was fine up until 2012 … when Shep and WB were sued for allegedly jacking Vogue from someone else. In his lawsuit, Shep says they both came out victorious in that case, but the label spent a ton on lawyers — more than $700k, according to docs.

The mega producer says WB’s been withholding royalties since then to cover that massive legal bill. Translation: we forked out the dough to defend your song … now you owe us.

Shep ain’t buyin’ that theory though, and says his contract with the label doesn’t give them the right to hold back his Vogue dollars.

He believes he’s been screwed out of as much as $500k, and wants a judge to force WB Music to hand over the loot.

Today in Madonna History: March 11, 2015

On March 11 2015, Madonna was interviewed by Howard Stern on SiriusXM.

Here are some tidbits we learned about Madonna during the interview, according to Rolling Stone magazine:

  • Her shocking VMA debut of “Like a Virgin” was an accident. “I had come down the wedding cake and my shoe fell off,” she said. “I was like ‘Oh shit, I can’t dance in one shoe!” The mishap prompted quick decision-making on Madonna’s end as to how to proceed with the performance and led to the controversial stage-humping that took place at the first Video Music Awards. “I didn’t know my skirt was up. I proceeded to sing the song laying down on the ground. I was just making the best of the situation.” She noted that her manager Freddy DeMann told her that her career would be over following the performance.
  • She craves normalcy every once in a while. “Every 3 days I crave it,” she said. “Every three days I go, ‘That’s it. I’m moving to a cabin and living in the forest and no one’s gonna fuck with me anymore.'” Stern probed as to why she thinks she could never give up her career and life in the spotlight. “Because I’m an artist and I’m tortured. I’m a masochist and I like to create. I don’t know. Maybe one day I will.”
  • Madonna’s first year in New York included multiple robberies, an assault and an unreported rape. “I needed money for the payphone and [a stranger] gave it to me,” she said. “He was a very friendly guy, and the phone was ringing. He was like, ‘Oh, I live right across the street if you’d like to make the phone call from my house.” The then 19-year-old Madonna agreed, blaming her “stupid friendliness” from her Midwestern roots. “I trusted everybody. The rest is not worth talking about.”
  • She doesn’t hate David Letterman. Stern acknowledged some early interviews between the pop star and talk show host, noting he could never tell if she liked him or was annoyed. “Oh, that’s how I flirt with people,” she revealed. “One time I was mad at him, when I said the ‘f-word’ a lot, but the rest of the time was good.”
  • She dated Tupac Shakur. The late rapper had actually been the reason Madonna was mad at Letterman. “I was dating Tupac Shakur at the time, and he had gotten me all riled up about life in general,” she said. “When I went on this show, I was feeling very gangster.” Stern revealed his surprise about the little-known past relationship. “I think people know, if you’re in the know,” said Madonna coyly.
  • The misunderstood meaning of “Material Girl” gets on her nerves. “The song that irritated me the most about being associated with me is ‘Material Girl,'” she said. “It was an ironic song because I’m certainly not a materialistic person.” The topic came up as Stern had her clear up a rumor that she detested the success of “Like a Virgin” because other people had written it. The singer declared the rumor false, asserting that she loves the song and appreciates its writers.
  • Upon making her first $1 million, she indulged in buying a Frida Kahlo painting. “That was always my goal,” she said on her art collection. “When I was married to Sean [Penn], I said ‘When I make my first million, I’m going to buy art.'” Madonna had been a huge fan of Frida Kahlo since she was young. “I bought a self-portrait of hers. At the time it was rather inexpensive because people didn’t know who she was.”
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat destroyed all the paintings he had given to her. Madonna and Basquiat had dated when the singer was very young, but his heroin addiction ended up pulling them apart. “He was an amazing man and deeply talented. I loved him,” she said. “When I broke up with him, he made me give all [his paintings] back to him. And then he painted over them black.” She regrets giving the art back, but felt pressured to do so since it was something he had created.
  • She wrote “Vogue” in a few hours. Madonna stands by the idea that her best songs are the ones she wrote in only a couple of hours, “Vogue” included. “I thought it was a very cool dance, very presentational and elegant and all about vanity,” she said about the dance of the same name. The song had been written for Dick Tracy, the film she made with ex-boyfriend Warren Beatty, and was inspired by all the classic movie stars. “[Warren] dated all of Hollywood, basically.” She would ask him questions about what the stars she admired — and he dated — were like, including Natalie Wood and Julie Christie. “I looked up to [these women] and admired them.”

Today in Madonna History: March 3, 1991

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On March 3 1991, Madonna’s Vogue won International Single Of The Year at the 20th annual Juno Awards held at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

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