Denise Matthews, the singer, model and actress known as Vanity, who toured with Prince in the 1980s before eschewing her wild persona for life as a minister, died on Monday in Fremont, Calif. She was 57.
Ms. Matthews’s sister Renay Matthews confirmed the death. She said Ms. Matthews had checked into a hospital on Saturday night after years of health problems related to her kidneys.
Ms. Matthews met Prince at the American Music Awards in 1980, and the two soon became romantically involved. He also invited her to be a part of Vanity 6, the funky, erotically charged girl group that had a hit in 1982 with “Nasty Girl” and toured with Prince. She appeared on the cover of Rollling Stone with Prince, in a portrait shot by Richard Avedon, with her hands creeping down the front of his pants.
Ms. Matthews was supposed to play the lead female role in “Purple Rain,” the semi-autobiographical Prince film that was a box-office hit in 1984, but abandoned the project before filming began. She went on to release two albums as a solo artist on Motown, “Wild Animal” and “Skin on Skin.”
She thrived on raciness, often performing in lingerie. “My music is very sexual, so you could say I’m just putting all of me out there,” she told The Associated Press in 1985. She was on the cover of Playboy in 1988.
As an actress, she appeared on television and in films including “The Last Dragon,” “Never Too Young to Die,” “Action Jackson” and “52 Pick-Up.”
Source: NY Times