Music

Prince would blast me with his charm, says Bangles singer Susanna Hoffs

“I liked to hang out with Prince back then, he was a mischievous person. He was very enigmatic,” Susanna Hoffs told The Big Issue.

Prince and The Bangles, led by singer Susanna Hoffs

Prince wrote The Bangles' biggest hit Manic Monday. Photos: ZUMA Press Inc / Alamy Stock Photo / Shutterstock

In the mid-80s Prince was at the peak of his very considerable powers. The decade saw him release an astonishing, never-matched run of sublime hits. By 1985, he had already given the world I Wanna Be Your Lover, Controversy, 1999, Little Red Corvette, When Doves Cry, Little Red Corvette, Purple Rain and Raspberry Beret. So brimming with inspiration was the Purple One that he’d even started giving away some of the greatest songs of the era. Among the early beneficiaries of this cornucopia of musical excellence were pop rock band The Bangles, led by singer Susanna Hoffs.

In an interview with radio presenter and columnist Sam Delaney for next week’s Big Issue, Hoffs reflected on her friendship with Prince and the persistent rumours that they were something more.

“The Bangles were very lucky to meet Prince,” she said. “He’d been watching our video on MTV for our early single Hero Takes A Fall and he loved the song. We all played different roles in the video and I happened to be dressed as a French maid, which he apparently liked too. So he started turning up at our gigs and getting on stage with us to perform these supernatural guitar solos.”

The Bangles were in the studio working on their second album – 1986’s Different Light, which would go on to be their biggest seller – when Prince sent Hoffs a message to say he was also recording nearby (for Parade, the soundtrack album to his 1986 film Under the Cherry Moon, which includes the global hit Kiss).

“He wanted to play me a song. So I went over there and he was busy recording. But he left behind a cassette with this song Manic Monday on it,” Hoffs told The Big Issue. “I still have that original cassette. He’d recorded it with his own band but told me he thought it was perfect for The Bangles. When I first sang it, I thought to myself ‘How did he know?’ Some songs just fit like a glove.”

A huge hit, Manic Monday reached number two in the charts in both the US and UK. In the US, it was ironically beaten to the top spot by Prince’s Kiss. With huge radio play that continues to this day, many speculated that Prince may have given Manic Monday to Hoffs as a token of love.

You know, there were a lot of rumours swirling around,” Hoffs acknowledged. “Whatever his feelings were about me I have no complaints because we were very lucky to have made that connection.”

Hinting at Prince’s genius, Hoffs said he was a charming person to be around even if he could be an imposing presence.

“I liked to hang out with Prince back then, he was a mischievous person. He liked to sort of talk in riddles,” she said. “You couldn’t be in a room or sitting across from him and not sense that there was a lot going on in his head and it could be intimidating. And it was really intriguing and fun too. I always liked the feeling of being blasted with someone’s charm and that’s what he did to me. He was very enigmatic.”

Read the full interview with Susanna Hoffs, in which she also reveals how The Bangles stuck together and protected each other from the worst of the ’80s music business, in The Big Issue magazine on the streets from Monday 10 July 2023.

Susanna Hoffs’ new novel This Bird Has Flown is out now (Little, Brown, £8.99)

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