Photo: Martin Burgoyne, early 1980s New York.
In her 1991 documentary Truth or Dare, Madonna prays with her dancers before taking the stage during the Blond Ambition tour for an AIDS benefit show. During the prayer she tears up, remembering those she’s lost to AIDS, including her mentor and ballet teacher, Christopher Flynn, and her best friend, artist Martin Burgoyne.
Andy Warhol mentions Martin in The Andy Warhol Diaries while journalling about how Madonna was photographed in a bookstore shopping for “a sick friend,” which, Andy guesses, “must be Martin.” He also describes a story in the Enquirer about how “Madonna’s best friend is dying of AIDS” and says how horrible it must be for Martin to read about his impending death.
Martin died of AIDS in his early 20s at the beginning of Madonna’s stardom but not before leaving his mark and helping the future Queen of Pop get closer to her crown. He designed the original cover for Madonna’s first album, which ended up being self-titled but was meant to be called Lucky Star. The album cover was shot by Edo Bertoglio, the boyfriend of famed stylist Maripol.
Here’s Edo and Martin’s cover:
And the iconic image that was ultimately used:
Martin’s second attempt at designing for Madonna did make it onto record shelves. His silkscreens were used as the cover of her single “Burning Up":
Madonna honoured her lost friend on her 1992 album Erotica, with the song “In This Life":
"Sitting on a park bench thinking about a friend of mine,” Madonna sings on the track. “He was only 23, gone before he had his time. It came without a warning, didn’t want his friends to see him cry. He knew the day was dawning, and I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye."