The Bangles

Author: Janet


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Originally “Colours,” “the Supersonic Bangs” and “the Bangs”, the all singing/all performing four-woman the Bangles formed in 1981 and sprung from the L.A. paisley underground scene. Later they traded their garage band roots for a slick, heavily-produced pop sound that turned them into one of the most successful chart groups of either gender during the ’80s.

In the beginning, the group played original, ’60s-based guitar rock, and were fond of covering Big Star, the Merry Go Round and Love. Sisters Debbi and Vicki Peterson, on drums and guitar respectively, and singer/guitarist Susanna Hoffs started the group when the Petersons responded to a want ad placed by Hoffs; later they added Annette Zilinskas on bass.

The scruffy girl group self-released the single “Getting Out of Hand,” which sounded like a lost song by the Mamas and the Papas and followed it with a loose, four-song pop EP on IRS before getting signed to Columbia. All Over the Place was produced by David Kahne and released in 1984, once the band had been given an all-over clean-up. By that time, Zilinskas had left the fold to join Blood on the Saddle and former Runaway Michael Steele was added to the lineup.

For the second album, 1985′s Different Light, the band were aided by Prince (or “Christopher,” as he was known during that phase) with his song “Manic Monday,” which charted at number two and paved the way for the follow-up smash, “Walk Like an Egyptian,” which went to number one and sent the album to the top of the charts. There was a sexist assumption among some critics that the successful female group couldn’t really play and needed studio and live assistance, but as with any slick chart band, sessionmen were in fact credited, beginning on the second album. Future Black Crowes’ producer George Drakoulias was enlisted to play the guitar lead for their next single, a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade of Winter,” from the Less Than Zero soundtrack which reached number one in 1987. At the same time, Hoffs appeared in a b-movie, The Allnighter, and it garnered the band some undesirable attention, but the follow-up album, Everything, spawned another number one, “Eternal Flame,” in 1988.

The band packed it in due to the usual artistic differences in 1989 — the Peterson’s sibling harmonies were what gave the group their unique sound, but singer Susanna Hoffs was often considered the focal point and it contributed to the tension. Vicki Peterson sang with the Continental Drifters and filled in for Charlotte Caffey during 1994′s Go-Go’s reunion tour; Hoffs recorded two solo albums since the band’s breakup, When You’re a Boy in 1991 and a self-titled record in 1996, while Debbie Peterson and Steele continued to work with various alternative pop groups. The Bangles officially re-formed in the summer of 2000, announcing tour dates and plans for a new studio album. – Denise Sullivan

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