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Vanity, Singer, Actress, and Prince Protege, Dies at 57

Image: Vanity, Singer, Actress, and Prince Protege, Dies at 57
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By    |   Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 12:37 PM

Vanity, the lead singer of the 1980s group Vanity 6 and a protege of Prince, died Monday after fighting kidney failure and an abdominal illness. She was 57.

Denise Katrina Matthews, who went by the stage name Vanity, died at a hospital in Fremont, California, sources close to the family told TMZ. Her friend and musician Shelia E. was one of the first to break the news on Twitter.


Vanity 6's biggest hit was 1982's "Nasty Girl," produced by Prince, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard dance charts, but Matthews disbanded the group after its debut album and signed with Motown Records in 1984, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Matthews had a brief screen career, starring in "The Last Dragon" in 1985, "Never Too Young to Die" in 1986, and "Action Jackson" in 1988.

She reportedly struggled with substance abuse for a time, The Reporter said.

"Matthews' reputation as a hard partier in those early years of fame was both widely known and well-founded," the website wrote. "As she cycled through rocker boyfriends (Billy Idol, Adam Ant, and Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx, among them), she developed a dangerous addiction to crack cocaine."

"In 1994, that addiction led to near-fatal renal failure. She later said that Jesus Christ appeared to her at that time and offered her a second chance at life if she abandoned her Vanity persona."

She eventually shed her wild life and embraced Christian evangelism, even becoming ordained as a minister, her sister told The New York Times.

During his tour stop in Australia this week, Prince dedicated part of the show to Matthews, performing "Little Red Corvette" and "Dirty Minds," among other tunes for his former girlfriend and protege. He even shared stories about their relationship with the audience, according to the News Corp Australian Network.

"I'm trying to stay focused, it's a little heavy for me tonight," Prince reportedly said, before breaking into a version of another hit song "The Beautiful Ones." "Just keep jamming . . . She knows about this one."

Other celebrities shared their condolences online.




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Vanity, the lead singer of the 1980s group Vanity 6 and a protege of Prince, died Monday after fighting kidney failure and an abdominal illness. She was 57.
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Tuesday, 16 Feb 2016 12:37 PM
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