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My Madonna Moment: On The Cover Of Spin Magazine

Monday, September 16, 2013 - 04:00 PM

The cover of Spin Magazine's first issue came down to David Bowie and Madonna. The cover of Spin Magazine's first issue came down to David Bowie and Madonna.

All this week, Soundcheck is marking the 30th anniversary of the Material Girl’s first album, and we’re asking listeners and readers to share their "Madonna Moment." It doesn’t have to be anything as dramatic as Seymour Stein’s tale of lying in a hospital bed signing Madonna to her first contract; or essentially being asked by Madonna herself to parody one of her hits, as Weird Al Yankovic will probably tell us later this week. Just some time or event that, for you, involves Madge or her music somehow. 

In late 1984, I was invited by Bobby Guccione to become a contributing editor for his new, monthly music magazine that he was going to call Spin.  The magazine was going to launch in spring of 1985, and Bobby (the son of Bob Guccione, the founder of Penthouse magazine) felt that the industry had a void to fill: Rolling Stone was for an older generation, and at that time seemed to give short shrift to emerging artists or interesting musicians working on the boundaries of pop. Spin would be the anti-Rolling Stone, and he wanted to give me a full page in each issue to write about some of the edgier artists that a young rock-pop audience might be interested in. 

Now, getting a new magazine off the ground took a lot of work, and for about six months before that first issue hit the stands, Bobby hired and fired a number of editors, including at least one editor-in-chief and the all-important Advertising Director. At one point, he even asked if I’d be interested in the editor-in-chief job, perhaps forgetting that I’d been watching these office shenanigans the whole time. No, I told him, I’ll keep my day job. Which at the time was actually a night job, but whatever. 

Eventually, a staff came together -- though it would remain in flux for the whole first year, after which I, too, would leave -- and the first issue was almost ready. I say “almost” because Bobby now had a big question to answer: who would be his first cover? He called me in one day and showed me two mock-ups of the covers he was considering. One was David Bowie, and the other was Madonna.

This put me in a bit of a spot. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Bowie’s pop period in the early 1980's, but he was still David Bowie, whose albums had been formative experiences for me as a kid in the '70s. And the photo, of Bowie holding a skull in a classic “Alas, poor Yorick” pose, was terrific.

But as 1984 became 1985, it seemed evident that Madonna was not going to be a one-hit wonder, and in addition to her musical talents, I admired the fact that here was a young woman clearly making her own way in what was still a male-dominated industry.   

It’s hard to remember exactly what I said, but it was something along the lines of “Don’t ask me to vote against Bowie.” I did allow that if he was set on Spin being the antidote to Rolling Stone, that Madonna made that statement loud and clear. Well, I think Bobby was probably going in that direction anyway. And so, Madonna was the cover artist on that first issue of Spin, in March 1985.


Madonna, on the cover of the very first issue of Spin Magazine in 1985.


In hindsight, it was a great choice.   

The next 30 years would see Madonna become the Queen of Pop, and Spin was among the first to offer her the crown. Plus I got to keep the mock-up of the rejected Bowie cover, which, now that I think of it, I should rescue from the basement and do something with.

What’s your "Madonna Moment"?  Leave a comment below, or reach out to us on Twitter at @Soundcheck or call us at 866.939.1612. 


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Comments [7]

Quentin Harrison from Atlanta, GA

Hmmm. Ironically, Madonna was my first musical memory, the first song I ever recall remebering vividly was "Open Your Heart". But the memory I'll specifically cling to was when the first ripples of her then soon-to-be released LP "Bedtime Stories" began with the first single "Secret".

Again, in the back of my parents car, going up Gettysyburg Ave. in Dayton, Ohio (where I hold a lot of fond memories of hearing acts for the first time in retrospect) I remember being nine and just loving "Secret". How warm it was, how the chorus just melted in your mouth (and mind). It remains the great focal point of the second period of her career where she focused on becoming a finer singer, songwriter and all around musical force through the rest of the 1990's and the early 2000's. As someone who was born in 1985 but reared in the following decade, Madonna's 90's recordings hold a much closer space to my heart. Even with some of her sillier missteps on her last two records, she still captivates me. -Quentin Harrison (

Sep. 21 2013 06:05 PM
Eddie from Manhattan, NY

I actually had two. One was in 1983 as "Borderline" quickly became a favorite being played in Manhattan gay bars for a good part of the year, thanks to underground tapes, before it was officially released in 1984. I absolutely fell in love with the song and became a fan of hers. The second was when I realized "Like A Virgin" was constantly being played on jukeboxes in nearly every gay male hustler bar in midtown Manhattan. That song let me know Madonna was here to stay.

Sep. 17 2013 09:55 PM
Douglas Allen from NYC

I like this idea of devoting an entire week to one artist and I'm hard pressed to think of any contemporary artist more deserving than Madonna. My 'Madonna Moment' came in 1987 during her first world tour 'Who's That Girl'. I was a senior in high school when she hit the scene in 1983 and thought she was ok but nothing special, I didn't give her much thought and I certainly didn't own any of her music. A friend of mine liked her and wanted to see her WTG tour and wanted me to go with him. I told my friend I didn't think she was worth it and I wasn't going to spend my money for the ticket. Well, he bought me my ticket and I reluctatnly went to the concert. I was completely blown away by her performance and have been a fan ever since.

Sep. 17 2013 02:48 PM

I was on the staff for the launch of Spin, working for that poor Advertising Director. She & Bobby used to date and the things she put up with from him, yikes. It was a very exciting time, my first magazine job, and I met great people. James Truman was a kid who showed up in pajama pants most of the time, and Ed Rasen was the wise old man, the only one who could put Bobby in his place and tell him to stop screwing around and make a decision. But good or bad, the launch of a magazine is a great thing, one I tell all aspiring sales people to do. And just being in the Penthouse offices was a trip... I still have that issue, and the next 6!

Sep. 17 2013 12:39 PM
Pamela P. from New Jersey

For me Madonna is an ICON. I have been a fan since 1984 and have seen all but 2 of her tours. We are the same age, although our life paths are very different. My Madonna moment was in August of 2001 when she was in the middle of the Drowned World Tour. Being a Jersey Girl and living in NJ at the time I was elated to see this concert, had heard about it and knew, as all her shows are, it would be a show stopper. On that Friday in August she was to perform at the Meadowlands arena I started to get these taunting voice message's telling me the show was cancelled, and it was indeed canceled, her voice had been lost. That was my Madonna moment a very large dissapointment.

Sep. 17 2013 11:36 AM
Sipiwe from New York City

I've loved Madonna since I was just a little girl. I remember going to art camp and we were told to make headdresses that represented the people we admired, in the style of the Native American ethnic group we were studying. On one side I put my grandfather, a Zimbabwean nationalist leader, and on the other side Madonna. I had just seen Truth or Dare (at eight years old, what a scandal!) and something about her presence, daring, and performative quality captured me. I'm still in awe of her to this day.

Sep. 17 2013 10:06 AM
Mike G.

For me, she is the eternal survivor...knock her down, give her a failed movie, a failed marriage, a bad live performance, she comes back that much stronger the next time. I l have loved her since Jr. High School, because I've always seen a part of myself( as an outsider, but wanting to be accepted), when I watch her. That's her true talent, being able to perform live with a certain amount of vulnerablity, but an ambitious nature that can knock those insecurities down. Thanks for giving her some air time, in a legitimate way... on your show, which I love.

Sep. 16 2013 09:56 PM

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