The viewing public is chomping at the bit to relive THE GOLDEN AGE OF MUSIC VIDEO courtesy of a Super Bowl Halftime Show performed by Madonna, but she almost didn’t survive an early music video experience. Not long after directing Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video, music video veteran Steve Barron was approached to direct the first single of a then-unknown dance club singer’s single. The song was “Burning Up,” and the artist was the Material Girl herself.

“I hadn’t heard of her, and I didn’t like the song very much,” Barron said. “I was on vacation, and I was being told that I had to meet her because she’s going to be this huge star. I met her and she was cheeky, and I saw her play a gig at Danceteria. She did a few tracks there, and she had a lot of character. When we actually met, we were talking and she was sitting at a table and kept putting her head onto the table, first down onto one side, then the other, and I thought, you know, that’s what we’ll do in the video.”

The accompanying video was an oddly stylized performance clip dominated by Madonna’s rolling and writhing around in the middle of a deserted street at night. One scene has Madonna lying down in a boat, a dangerous moment on the set that almost resulted in her death.

“We nearly killed her,” Barron said. “We had this crane, which was a cherry picker-type thing, we had it out over a lake shooting her lying in a boat. I was asking for it to be directly over her, and the crane operator is pushing out over her, and when got directly over her, I look back , and the wheels had left the ground. We’re on the tipping point with this thing that’s basically eight tons of metal that’s sixteen feet above her face, and I yelled “Stop! Stop!” It stopped, it wobbled, and we slowly inched backward. Another move forward and it would have come crashing down. It definitely would have killed her.”

Let’s hope there’s no crane problems in Indianapolis on Sunday.


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