The Bangles

  • All-woman pop rock band formed in 1981 from Los Angeles California. Members of the classic lineup are Susanna Hoffs (lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar), Vicki Peterson (lead and backing vocals, lead guitar), Debbi Peterson (lead and backing vocals, drums) and Michael Steele (lead and backing vocals, bass guitar). Annette Zilinskas was the original bass guitarist. All members contributed to song writing, with Hoffs and Vicki Peterson the primary writers.
  • In December 1980, 2 classified ads for musical acts were placed in a local Los Angeles newspaper. One was by Hoffs – the only person to respond was Zilinskas. The other ad was by the roommate of the Peterson sisters, who was starting a new band after leaving the band that she was in with the Petersons. Hoffs called to respond to that ad, still looking for more members for the band she wanted to form. Vicki Peterson answered the phone, and Hoffs and Peterson started a conversation, discovering that they had similar tastes in music. Later, when Hoffs spoke with the roommate, she found that she had a better connection with Peterson, so they decided to create a band with the Peterson sisters, Hoffs and Zilinskas. They called themselves The Colours.
  • The quartet soon changed their name to The Bangs, and they performed in the Los Angeles underground music scene, influenced by 60s psychedelic music and featuring vocal harmonies. In 1981, they recorded their first single, Getting Out of Hand, released on their own label in the LA area. In early 1982, a New Jersey band threatened to sue the group for using the name The Bangs, so they changed their name to The Bangles, and they released a 5 song self-titled EPIt would be their only release that featured Zilinskas on bass – soon after the EP was released, Zilinskas moved on to another project, and Steele was chosen to join the group.
  • By 1984, The Bangles were signed to a major record label, and they released their debut studio album, All Over The Place. The album did not produce a hit, but it made it to #80 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and college radio stations discovered the band and played the album. One song from the album, Going Down to Liverpool, featured Leonard Nimoy, who was a friend of the Hoffs family – this led to the video getting rotation time on MTV. Soon, The Bangles were an opening act for tours by Cindi Lauper and Huey Lewis, increasing their exposure.
  • The increased attention that the band received caught the interest of Prince, who gave them a song to record (using the psuedonum “Christopher”). The song was Manic Monday, released on the Different Light album in 1986. The song peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 chart, and The Bangles had their breakthrough. The next single from the album, If She Knew What She Wants, reached #29 on the chart. The third single from the album became their most famous song – Walk Like An Egyptian. The song was written by Liam Sternberg – first offered to Toni Basil, Basil turned it down and The Bangles took it to #1 in the U.S. and 7 other countries. Ultimately, the album was certified 3x platinum.
  • In 1987, the band contributed a song to the soundtrack for the film Less Than Zero. The song was A Hazy Shade of Winter, a cover of the song first released in 1966 by Simon & Garfunkel. The version by The Bangles peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • Their next album, Everything, was released in 1988. It contained 2 hit singles – In Your Room reached #5 on the Hot 100 chart, and Eternal Flame topped the chart. Eternal Flame became the biggest selling single by an all-woman group in history. With that, The Bangles became the third all-woman group to have multiple #1 songs, following The Shirelles and The Supremes.
  • The music industry started to identify Hoffs as the lead singer of the group. This wasn’t true, as all 4 members had lead vocals and co-wrote most of the songs. This led to friction in the band, and they subsequently split up in 1989. By 1998, they reformed, contributing a song to the soundtrack to the film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. They released a studio album in 2003 and another in 2011. Steele left the band in 2005, and they performed as a trio with a touring bassist until 2018, when Zilinskas rejoined after a 25 year absence.
  • Their most recent recording was 3 songs in November 2018, part of a compilation album called 3 x 4, which included songs from other LA based bands that started around the same time as The Bangles. Here’s the video to my fave Bangles hit (and yours too), Walk Like An Egyptian.

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