News broke last night during the Grammy Awards that Vanity, a.k.a. Denise Matthews, the singer of one of several female-led groups that were created by Prince or spun off of Prince and the Revolution in the 1980s, Vanity 6, had died at age 57. She apparently had been suffering from kidney problems for many years related to crack abuse, and had been on dialysis.
Matthews died at Washington Hospital in Fremont, as CBS 5 reports, and TMZ spoke to sources close to her family who confirmed that the death happened Monday. The cause was sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis an inflammation of the small intestines that also stemmed from her other health issues.
Her fellow Prince protégé and the woman who took over as singer of the group after Vanity and Prince parted ways, Apollonia, tweeted last night that she was "gutted" by the news.
Born in Canada with sultry good looks, Vanity had a brief acting career as well, appearing in movies like "52 Pick-Up" and "Action Jackson" before being selected by Prince to head up a girl group he wanted to launch. Originally called "The Hookers" (per Wikipedia), the group would be renamed Vanity 6, and the only hit off their eponymous single album in 1982 would be "Nasty Girl," which was featured on the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. Wikipedia also notes that Prince wanted Vanity's stage name to be Vagina, but she chose Vanity instead.
After a romantic relationship between Vanity and Prince dissolved, Vanity went and got a record deal of her own, and the group was renamed Apollonia 6 after its new singer, Apollonia Kotero. That group would also only put out one album, and their hit "Sex Shooter," actually originally recorded by Vanity 6.
Vanity would later renounce her stage name and became a born-again Christian.
Below, the original recording of "Sex Shooter" with Vanity singing. Ignore the album cover.