Back in 2008, the internet erupted when Madonna dropped a guitar cover of Pantera's "A New Level" on her Sticky and Sweet tour. Now, in a new interview with Decibel magazine, Madonna's guitar teacher and live guitarist Monte Pittman has revealed the story behind the cover.
As the guitarist notes, the cover came about when he was teaching the pop star about drop D tuning:
"And so at the same time, she had gotten a new musical director. He wanted to do her song 'Hung Up' with her playing guitar. But it's in D minor. That would be a great segue to me showing her drop D tuning on the guitar. So I was showing her the song, and I was like, 'You know what, I gotta teach you some Pantera.' So I showed her the riff to 'A New Level' because I thought it would be easy to remember how the notes just move up chromatically, one at a time. She loved that. She kept playing that all the time.
"When we were in band rehearsals doing 'Hung Up,' once we ended the song, she would start going into that Pantera riff. The rest of Madonna's band, they're not really familiar with that music, so they just started playing what she was playing. Every day in rehearsal when we would end that song, we would just start playing that riff. I thought, 'Oh that's cool, that's fun.'
"But then all of a sudden, you would start to see, like, some runners bring water in to stock the refrigerator. And the tour manager just happens to walk in, doing something. All of these people just started showing up at rehearsals who are there working, but just kinda popping their head in the door, like, 'Hey I wanna see Madonna play that Pantera part again.'
"And it stayed [and became part of the live show]. I was surprised that it stayed. Of course, I'm not gonna say no. When else am I gonna get to play Pantera on a stage in a stadium? But it stayed, and that's where that story came from."
As Decibel notes, Pittman is a guitarist with a metal pedigree, having previously played with Dallas metal heroes Prong.