vanity

Last night in Melbourne, Prince paid tribute to his late former girlfriend, the singer Vanity by switching lyrics to plenty of his hits that he recorded while the two were together. “Little Red Corvette”, “Dirty Mind”, “The Ladder”, “The Beautiful Ones”. It was as open and vulnerable as Prince had been on stage in ages. A report from the show in Australia displayed how much Prince cared for Vanity, the woman who was originally set to play lead in the Purple Rain film.

“Can I tell you a story about Vanity?” he asked a sold-out crowd. “Or should I tell you a story about Denise? Her and I used to love each other deeply. She loved me for the artist I was, I loved her for the artist she was trying to be. She and I would fight. She was very headstrong cos she knew she was the finest woman in the world. She never missed an opportunity to tell you that.”

Denise “Vanity” Matthews died yesterday of kidney failure. She was 57. The former lead singer of Vanity 6 had turned to evangelism in her later life but her mark on pop culture, particularly in the minds of Prince fans and those of the Motown karate send-up The Last Dragon were profound. Her death was confirmed by her sister and the news slowly trickled through social media, met with initial skepticism before it felt real.

A native of Niagara Falls, Ontario, Matthews first met Prince at the American Music Awards before settling in as the lead singer of an all-girl group, Vanity 6. The group scored a 1982 hit, “Nasty Girl” before Matthews left to pursue a solo career. Constantly racy and willing to push sexual taboos and boundaries, she was often clad in lingerie for magazine covers, even appearing in a Playboy shoot in 1988. Her career also dabbled in film as she starred in many successful films such as Action Jackson, The Last Dragon and Never Too Young To Die.

By the ’90s, Vanity had begun eschewing her past life, settling for something closer to normalcy. The hard party life and cocaine usage had taken its toll on her body, forcing her to lose both of her kidneys and renal failure in the 1990s. “There was a lot of cocaine,” she told JET Magazine in a January 1993 interview. “I tried men, women, everything. I didn’t snort cocaine, I smoked it.”

Though turning her life around, Vanity’s impression on many fans across generations was felt. Many stars took to social media on Monday night following the news of her death and offered condolences. MC Hammer stated that he had previously seen Matthews at church on Saturday. “Vanity left church after giving a beautiful testimony,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.