How Madonna is honoring an artist with Tampa Bay ties on her Celebration Tour

Former Tampa Bay resident and artist Martin Burgoyne was just 23 when he died due to AIDS-related complications. His old friend Madonna is making sure he is remembered.

When the pop superstar swings through Amalie Arena on Thursday for her long-awaited Celebration Tour, keep an eye out for a tribute to victims of the AIDS epidemic that features Burgoyne. According to the New York Times, Burgoyne’s face is the first shown in a montage set to the 1992 song “Live to Tell.”

Madonna first dedicated the song to Burgoyne during an AIDS benefit concert at Madison Square Garden in 1987 — the year after he died. Five years later, she wrote “In This Life” about Burgoyne and her first dance teacher Christopher Flynn, who also died during the AIDS crisis.

“Sitting on a park bench, thinking about a friend of mine,” she sings. “He was only 23. Gone before his time.”

Madonna performs during “The Celebration Tour” at Barclays Center on December 14, 2023 in New York City. Her set on this tour includes a tribute to those lost due to AIDS, including her friend and roommate Martin Burgoyne. [ KEVIN MAZUR | WireImage for Live Nation ]

Burgoyne was born in England and spent part of his adolescence in the Tampa Bay area. In 1980, he won several scholastic art awards for the portfolio he built as a Seminole High School student, according to Tampa Bay Times archives. Burgoyne’s photo-realistic graphite portrait represented his body of work at a “surprisingly sophisticated” display at Tyrone Square Mall.

“He loved anything vintage and shopping at La France in Ybor,” said Sam South, a Seminole-based Madonna fan. “A couple years later he’s in the Lower East Side, hanging out with the biggest artists of America in the past 50 years.”

Keith Haring and Martin Burgoyne were good friends during the early 1980s in New York City. Both men died from AIDS-related complications and are honored during a tribute portion of Madonna’s Celebration Tour. [ Courtesy of Myers Fine Art ]

When Burgoyne moved to New York City in the early 80s to study art at the Pratt Institute, he befriended Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, South said. He also became Madonna’s best friend, tour manager and roommate.

“She and Martin lived around the corner from me on the Lower East Side in a building with medieval black iron gates on the doors and dark narrow hallways that stank of urine and dead vermin,” wrote then-Miami Herald dance critic Jordan Levin in 2001.

Levin described Burgoyne as “much beloved and lusted after, an incandescent boy even in the darkest after-hours club.” Burgoyne worked as a bartender at Lucky Strike and Studio 54, South said, plus managed Madonna’s first club tour and created the artwork for her 1983 single “Burning Up.”

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Mary Dowd, who co-owns Myers Fine Art and Antiques Auction Gallery in St. Petersburg, noted that Burgoyne was a backup dancer during Madonna’s debut performance. He also designed the cover of the 1985 biography, “Madonna: Lucky Star.” That year, Burgoyne brought Warhol as his date to Madonna’s wedding to Sean Penn.

Martin Burgoyne, who attended high school in Seminole, created the cover of Madonna’s “Burning Up.” It was included in the auction hosted by Myers Fine Art in Feb. 2014. [ CHRIS O’MEARA
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