On this day in music history: August 11, 1982 – “Vanity 6”, the debut album by Vanity 6 is released. Produced by Prince (aka “The Starr Company”), it is recorded at Kiowa Trail Home Studio in Chanhassen, MN and Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA from July – August 1981, March – April 1982. Having toured with and having had a sometimes contentious rivalry with musician Rick James, Prince decides to put together a girl group, after seeing James’ female background vocalists The Mary Jane Girls. Originally dubbed “The Hookers”, Prince pairs his then girlfriend Denise Matthews (aka “Vanity”) together with his former girlfriend Susan Moonsie and wardrobe mistress Brenda Bennett, forming the group. Prince’s personal assistant Jamie Shoop is initially intended to be the third member, but is dropped from the group after he meets and begins a relationship with Matthews. Ironically she had dated Rick James before Prince. The female vocal trio is created as another outlet for Prince’s prolific songwriting output, though the songs are credited to the individual group members. Initially, three songs are cut for the project in the Summer and Fall of 1981 before stopping to embark on the Controversy Tour. The remaining five songs are recorded during March and April of 1982. Playing most of the instruments himself, Prince also enlists assistance from band mate Dez Dickerson and Time members Jesse Johnson and Terry Lewis who also co-write songs. The albums initial single, “He’s So Dull” (later featured in “National Lampoon’s Vacation”) fails to make an impact, and is quickly followed up with “Nasty Girl” in September of 1982. The sexually provocative and funky track becomes an immediate smash on club dance floors, and on R&B radio. The song is later featured in the Spike Lee directed film “Girl 6” in 1996. Original vinyl and cassette copies of the album feature labels that read “Side 1 and Side 6” instead of 1 and 2. It spins off four singles including “Nasty Girl” (#7 R&B, #1 Club Play, #101 Pop), “Bite The Beat” and “Drive Me Wild”. “Wild”, initially released as the B-side of “Nasty Girl”, receives significant play on radio and in clubs, prompting Prince to remix and extend (while concurrently remixing his own “Little Red Corvette”) the originally two and a half minute track to over an seven minute work out. Adding a funky rhythm guitar and stinging solo lead, it is released as a 12" and edited 7" in March of 1983. Part of the initial press run of the US LP come with a 18 x 22" poster of the group (taken by photographer Allen Beaulieu), that becomes a rare and coveted collector’s item. Originally released on CD in 1988, the album has been out of print since the mid 90’s, commanding a premium price on the collector’s market due to its enduring popularity, also being heavily bootlegged as a result. “Vanity 6” peaks at number six on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty five on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
Help support the Behind The Grooves music blog with a donation at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228