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Page last updated: 07/17/2005

"For the very first time"

"The most interesting parallel was not that the name of the tour came from her then-current hit, "Like A Virgin." It was that Madonna had never before performed live in a concert setting. It would be her "virgin" gig." - Bill Lanphier, about Madonna's first concert in Seattle, Washington for the Virgin Tour. 

Some time ago, Bill Lanphier did a great interview with the Everybody Fan Club about his experiences going on the Virgin Tour with Madonna. But we felt there was more to discover, and we wanted the fans to get a chance to interview Bill! So, you came up with some of your best questions and Bill answered them! Enjoy his great answers and congratulations to Matthew who wins our contest and who had the best question in Bill's humble opinion. You will be receiving a gorgeous framed picture of Madonna from Live Aid! Now, on to the great questions, thank you, Bill!

Out of all the cities the Virgin tour visited, which city rocked? And will the Virgin Tour ever make it to DVD?

Thanks for your time,


We got a great response at every concert. Madonna was all over the news in every city and we'd often go back to the hotel to watch ourselves on the 11 p.m. news. Snooping around almost any new place can be fun and often that's what we'd do on off days. I unofficially became the group's concierge and after awhile the band started asking me where to go. I turned Madonna and the band onto a great Indian restaurant in Chicago, but several people, including Madonna, got sick and that sort of ended my career as a tour director.

Regarding a Virgin Tour DVD, Madonna fans would probably hear about one before I would!



What's the difference, musically speaking, between the Virgin Tour and other tours or musical experiences of that magnitude you've had through your career?

Martin Carlos

Well, it's hard to top a gig like that for magnitude. It was the most highly visible thing I've ever done. Doing a concert with the Chicago Symphony on my 30th birthday was pretty cool, too. And it was great playing Bulgarian music for a few thousand people in a little village in Bulgaria, me the only non-Bulgarian for miles. Even though Madonna's music was relatively easy to play, everyone played great, took the band very seriously and you didn't hear too many mistakes. So, in terms of professionalism, it was right up there with anything I've done.



Which date out of the whole tour was the most fun?

Take care,


I can't remember any that weren't fun, but the practical joke concert (I think it was either at Radio City Music Hall or Madison Square Garden) was the funniest. I as recall, Madonna decided to come on stage in boxer shorts and surprise the whole band. The band got wind of it and when she came on stage and turned around, we all had on boxer shorts identical to hers.

Everyone in the band also had a practical joke played on them during a concert, thanks to the musical director Pat Leonard and the other keyboard player, Billy Meyers. While I was playing my a bass solo on Everybody, they snuck up behind me an unloaded two full cans of hair mousse on top of my head, covering me, the bass and the floor. The bass solo kinda sucked that night, not only because my hands were too slippery to play anything meaningful, but because I was laughing so hard.

Prior to Jonathan's nightly drum solo, the stage was darkened and he was led to his drums with a little flashlight. Until he started playing and the stage lights came up, he couldn't see his drums at all. He'd begin his drum solo with an ear-splitting, alpha-dog whack to the snare drum. What he didn't realize was that, on this night, his snare drum head had been covered to a depth of about an inch with talcum powder. With the first hit, he enveloped himself in a massive cloud of white powder.

The best practical joke of the tour was a more drawn-out thing. Once a week or so, we'd send our outfits to the dry cleaners. Paul, the guitar player, didn't realize that Pat was intercepting his pants and tacking a note on them: "Please take in the inseam 1/4 inch." After a few weeks, Paul was checking out everyone else's pants and asking around, "Are your pants shrinking?" "No, Paul. Are yours?" After several weeks, he started looking like the little Dutch Boy.



What is one story about the Virgin Tour and Madonna that would surprise even her most die hard fans? (Lip syncing? Romances? Insecurities? Sean Penn on the set?)



There were all kinds of rumors to the contrary, but there was no lip syncing on Madonna's part. I think what started the rumors was that some of the background vocal parts on the records were sampled and played by one of the keyboard players. And some of those background parts were, I think, Madonna. But all her lead vocals were live, near as I could tell.

Other rumors had it that that Sean Penn could be mean, but he was very friendly and totally cool, at least to me. At a hotel pool in Florida I talked to him for only a few minutes, but connected with him better than I connected with Madonna.



What was the biggest music production obstacle Madonna had to overcome on the Virgin Tour and how did she handle it?

Brian Hunt
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People in the audience liked to throw crap onto the stage, maybe beads or jelly beans. I think it was all good natured. But occasionally she'd slip and, like in one of her lyrics (Over and Over?) pick herself back up and keep right on going. No momentum lost.

It seemed that at least four or five times during the tour some male fan would get past security and run up to her on stage. But when he reached her, the guy would usually just freeze and stand there dumbstruck. Maybe being that close to her just blew the guy's mind. Or maybe she gave him the evil eye and scared him silly.

The only major sound glitch I knew of was during the first number at one concert. The band had our own monitor mix, independent from the house sound, and everything sounded fine to us that night. But we later learned that the house sound was all screwed up. The only thing coming through the main speakers was Madonna, one guitar, my bass and the snare drum. Not a bad mix, really, if you had to pick only four things. But missing was the rest of the drum set, the other guitar and both keyboards. The sound guy, Dave Kobb, went nuts trying to figure out the problem. He couldn't leave the mixing board during the tune, and so decided that when it was finished he'd haul ass around his enclosure and see what he could find. The number ended and he ran around to find that a female fan had climbed into his enclosure and was dancing on a connector in the main sound cable. He flung the girl back into the crowd, re-plugged the connector and, luckily for him, all the missing instruments came back. I guess he's also lucky that the girl didn't sue him for the big air and crash landing she probably experienced. 


We all know Madonna has extreme dedication and quite a worth ethic, as well as an amazing attention for detail and is an almost mind boggling  perfectionist. Where and when did this become apparent to you?

Thank You,

Logan Richardson

Pretty early on I realized she was getting up early and jogging. I think only her body guard could come close to keeping up with her. But she didn't really need him because, as I heard it, she could always outrun the paparazzi, fans and whoever else tried to pursue her while she was jogging. To do all the dancing and singing required in the show, she needed to stay in pretty good shape. I never saw her get high or drink much more than a glass of wine.

She was very aware of what the band was playing and particularly the bass. Some musicians tend to fixate on a particular instrument and for her it might have been the bass. If I did anything different at rehearsal, she'd always look around to see what was up.



How was it playing for a crowd (The Virgin Tour and Live Aid) where Madonna was clearly the main event and the musicians played "second fiddle" so to speak? (I've always preferred the musical side as opposed to the vocals.) Was playing in front of all these screaming fans a boost to your ego or were you  always thinking it's just Madonna they are here for? Fantastic bass playing on your part, kudos!!!


Eric Van Buiten

I think everyone in the band (and crew) realized that Madonna knew better than any of us how to successfully market yourself and make a zillion bucks. So, she deserved to be the star and get the credit. At the same time, I think Madonna understood the importance of having a solid band that grooved hard every song of every concert, which we did.

Thanks for the nice words about the bass! And thanks everyone for the interesting questions! Brings back fond memories from a very long time ago! My fifteen minutes of fame!


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