Vanity Matthews

80’s Icon & Prince Protégé Vanity Dies at 56

Words by Maxine Johns

Known for her stunning beauty, flamboyant style and a sound crafted by her music genius mentor Prince, Denise Katrina Matthews aka Vanity died on Monday 15th Feb at the age of 56 after a long term battle with kidney failure and abdominal illness.

The 80’s style and music icon, who was credited as being the protégé of The Purple One, made her mark in the music world when she sang lead for girl group Vanity 6 from 1981 until 1983, during which time the group released the hit single Nasty Girl. She went on to record two solo albums, along with the hits Pretty Mess and Under the Influence, as well as acting in cult films The Last Dragon, 52 Pick-Up and Action Jackson.

Battling drug abuse and a cocaine addiction, Matthews became a born again Christian in 1994 after renouncing her stage name. Ever the creative mind, she then went on to pen an autobiography titled Blame It on Vanity, which was released in 2010.

Matthews had been married to LA Raiders player Anthony Smith in 1995 for a year, after which she was briefly engaged to Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx.

She died in Fremont, California.

Below, watch an interview from 1986 on the Arsenio Hall Show: