On Wednesday afternoon, I was in a fourth-grade classroom at my kid’s school and noticed that the student of the month listed her favorite band as The Bangles. This struck me as odd, since The Bangles were about two decades older than her. I turned around and asked her why The Bangles, and she said that her sister, a second grader, had introduced them to her. A few minutes later, I saw their mother, and we mused about how cool it was that her daughters’ favorite band was from the 1980s, and then we remembered that the lead singer of The Bangles, Susanna Hoffs, was married to someone interesting, but we couldn’t remember who.
I ran home and refreshed my memory: She’s married to the director Jay Roach. But I also noticed that she used to date Prince. Prince died the next morning.
Turns out, Prince was instrumental in the success of The Bangles.
In 1983, a part was written in Purple Rain for singer/actress named Denise Matthews. In 1980, Prince had met Matthews and changed her name to Vanity, which is something that Prince could do because he was Prince. He named her Vanity because he considered her to be the female version of himself. Vanity was a member of the Prince-created group Vanity 6. You may remember their hit song “Nasty Girl,” which was written by Prince.
Vanity eventually left the Prince entourage over several disputes, so her part in Purple Rain was rewritten for a Patricia Kotero, who Prince renamed Apollonia. [Sidenote: Vanity went on to have some minor success as an actress in films like Action Jackson. She died of kidney failure earlier this year, owing to years of drug abuse. Like Prince, she was 57].
In Purple Rain, Vanity 6 was recast as Apollonia 6 after Apollonia joined the band along with existing members Brenda Bennett and Susan Moonsie (then Prince’s girlfriend, for whom “When Doves Cry” was written). Apollonia 6 released one album that had little success, but they did record a track on that album written for them by Prince called “Manic Monday.” However, Prince pulled it from the album because he’d lost interest in the group.
Meanwhile, around the time that Apollonia 6 was dissolving, a band called The Bangles had released their first album, All Over the Place. It wasn’t a big success (it peaked at #80 on the Billboard charts), but a tour opening for Cyndi Lauper and their relationship to Leonard Nimoy caught the attention of Prince (Nimoy was featured in The Bangles video for “Liverpool,” because Hoffs’ family and the Nimoy family were very close when Susanna Hoffs was growing up).
Cut to two years later, when Prince decided to give “Manic Monday” to The Bangles. He offered it to her under the pseudonym Christopher, which was the name of his character in Under the Cherry Moon. Rumors suggest that Prince gave the song to Susanna Hoffs in exchange for sleeping with him (Chuck Klostermann in his book A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas perpetuated this rumor, which may or may not be true).
The Bangles put the song on their second album. It became their first hit single, reaching number two on the Billboard charts. It was blocked from number one, ironically, by Prince’s “Kiss.”
It’s a great song, and the “Banglefication” of a Prince song launched their 80’s superstardom. They followed “Manic Monday” with songs like “Walk Like an Egyptian,” “Hazy Shade of Winter,” and “Eternal Flame” before breaking up in 1989.
Meanwhile, around 1991, Jay Roach and Susanna Hoffs — who were dating at the time — met Mike Myers at a bar by chance. Myers actually approached Susanna Hoffs first, because he was smitten with her. “After telling her that he owned the three-quarter-size Susanna Hoffs Rickenbacker guitar with black and white piping,” Myers recalls, Hoffs replied, “Oh my God.” And then: “This is my boyfriend [Jay Roach].”
Roach and Myers hit it off immediately, and a few years later, the Austin Powers franchise was born. That very franchise would lead to The Bangles regrouping, when Roach convinced them to get back together and record a song for Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
A couple of years later, they were on Gilmore Girls.
They still perform together today, having released an album in 2011.
In summary: If there were no Prince, the Bangles never would’ve been huge, and if The Bangles weren’t huge, Susanna Hoffs probably wouldn’t have met Jay Roach and introduced him to Mike Myers, and there’d be no Austin Powers.
In other words, everything can be traced back to Prince.
peace and love pic.twitter.com/X7azBtLh4o— Susanna Hoffs (@SusannaHoffs) April 21, 2016