Warner Bros. Records
I fell in love with Prince because of who he was.
Formed after the Controversy Tour, Prince’s spin-off girl band was named Vanity 6 (albeit only three members were in the group). The project was an evolution from an earlier trio of singers Prince formed called The Hookers, with his assistant Jamie Shoop as lead, joined by sisters Loreen and Susan Moonsie. This line-up was changed in 1981 and the band took the name of the new lead, Denise “Vanity” Matthews – a model and who at the time was Rick James’ girlfriend and subsequently became Prince’s girlfriend. Matthews is the inspiration behind their hit song Nasty Girl. She posed with Prince on his first cover photo of Rolling Stone, in 1983, in which he famously refused to give an interview. The trio was definitely a closed-shop: Susan Moonsie was Prince’s girlfriend during the Dirty Mind Tour, and Brenda Bennett was his wardrobe assistant.
All tracks for the Vanity 6 album written or co-written by Prince but are credited to Vanity. The recording took place throughout the latter half of 1981 and early 1982 at Prince’s Kiowa Trail home studio, Minnesota. Vanity 6 was released two months prior to Prince’s breakthrough album 1999 and consequently joined Prince as an opening act on his 1999 Triple Threat Tour, yet the instruments for their live set were performed by The Time from behind a curtain.
Matthews quit the band in 1983 due to not wishing to appear in the movie Purple Rain as the lead female character. Their single Nasty Girl remained at number 1 on Billboard’s Dance chart for 4 weeks, and the album was certified Gold by RIAA on 1 August 1985. A second album was planned but with Vanity’s role replaced by Patrica “Apollonia” Kotero and the band reformed as Apollonia 6.
Prince performs every instrument on the Vanity 6 album. His production credit is hidden under the name of The Starr ★ Company. In 2019 Prince’s original studio demo, with his guide vocals for Make-Up was released by Warner Brothers on Originals.
Matthews released two follow up albums in 1984 and 1986, although with no Prince involvement. died on 15 February 2016 aged 57, following a long battle with kidney failure resulting from a drug addiction in the late 1980s.
- Lead Vocals
- Denise Matthews
- Susan Moonsie
- Brenda Bennett
- Prince (as The Starr ★ Company)
- Warner Bros. Records
- Warner Bros. Records
- Allen Beaulieu
- 38 years, 8 months ago on 11 August 1982
- Running Time
- US Chart Peak
- UK Chart Peak
- Orig. Formats
- Nasty Girl (5:10) 1
- Wet Dream (4:12)
- Drive Me Wild (2:31) 1
- He's So Dull (2:32) 1
- If A Girl Answers (Don't Hang Up) [feat. Prince] (5:34)
- Make-Up (2:40)
- Bite The Beat (3:12) 1
- 3 x 2 = 6 (5:24)
1 Released as singles.
Vanity 6 – review
Vanity was one of the most gorgeous women of the early 1980s. She dated Prince, and her sister used to date Eddie Murphy. Prince never really got over her, and as if to add to the tragedy, she died the same year as Prince, 2016, on the first night of what was his final tour. Denise “Vanity” Matthews was the frontwoman of Prince’s all girl trio combo Vanity 6 (write in if you know the significance of six). The band was originally to be called The Hookers, a name that is hardly compatible with today’s morals, so we must count our blessings Vanity won through. Prince’s suspender-clad trio was Prince’s support act during his 1999 tour, which they were accompanied by The Time – those were the days. Newspapers at the time were disgusted with the girl’s getup. Their debut album contains their hit record that lived up to that look, Nasty Girl, made famous with its appearance in Beverly Hills Cop. It flew high in the charts and earned the band Gold certification from the RIAA. The hook of Wet Dream driven by the raw harmony of backing vocalists Susan and Brenda, the overlooked partners in this trio, gives a single worthy status. Vanity’s vocal isolation in Make-Up is flawless, and the instrumentation is deep just as you would expect, and driven by an electro core, revealed best in Drive Me Wild. Prince appears in If A Girl Answers (Don’t Hang Up), he and Vanity bounce off each other wonderfully. Vanity battled drugs and demons in the mid-80s, but in later years turned her life around. She was an absolutely stunning human both inside and out, and makes the closing song 3×2=6 ever more prophetic: “she never played the part of anyone’s fool”. She was most certainly her own woman.
Vanity 6 is rated 3 out of 5 by Goldies Parade.
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