Rockin’ shots: The stories behind music’s most iconic photos: No. 4

beastie boys madonna

In 1985, an unlikely pairing of musicians embarked on a tour together that must have been an epic experience for concert-goers around the US. Those artists were none other than rising pop superstar Madonna and hip-hop group Beastie Boys, who shared the stage for two months during what is now known as “The Virgin Tour.”

The Virgin Tour was Madonna’s debut tour, earned by the Material Girl from the success of her third album, Like a Virgin. She decided she wanted an opening act for the tour that would give a nod to her Manhattan neighborhood, and had her people contact Russell Simmons of Def Jam Records. The band she was originally after was not the Beastie Boys, but another hip-hop group called The Fat Boys. Unfortunately, Simmons did not represent The Fat Boys and suggested Run DMC, who were declined for being too expensive. He then suggested the Beastie Boys, who Madonna was familiar with from her days performing at the nightclub Danceteria.

At the time, the Beastie Boys had yet to release their hit debut album Licensed to Ill and only had a handful of original material to perform. Their short set list consisted of 6 songs, including 4 originals such as “Beastie Groove” and “Slow and Low,” and 2 covers. The audience’s reception of the often crude band went just as you probably imagine it to be — not so well. The thousands of teenage girls and their parents who thronged to see Madonna perform were not impressed with the trio. Madonna later said “The audience always booed them and they always told everyone to fuck off…I just loved them for that. I couldn’t understand why everyone hated them.”

Even the Boys themselves have admitted the tour was not their best, with Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz once remarking “I don’t know why she thought it would be a good idea [to open for her tour], though. It was a terrible idea. But it was great for her in a way because we were so awful that by the time she came onstage, the audience had to be happy.” Madonna got a kick out of her opening act and fought to keep them on the roster when others were in favor of cutting them.

This photo was taken on June 11th, 1985, the last night of the Virgin Tour, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Madonna had just finished the final song of her set, only to be stage-rushed by the Beastie Boys, who were squirting her with water guns.

5 replies

  1. First thoughts were damn they all looks so young. Then I remember that it was 30 years ago. Mind blooown

  2. I had no idea they were hated so much but then I had no idea Madonna’s first fans were little girls and their moms

  3. Awesome article! Had no idea Beastie Boys got their start with Madonna or that they were universally hated. Who’d of believed it!

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