Denise ‘Vanity’ Matthews, Singer and Protege of Prince, Dies at 57

Vanity Dead: Prince Discovery Denise Matthews
Twitter/Sheila E.

Denise Matthews, a former protege of Prince and lead singer of ’80s group Vanity 6, has died from kidney failure, according to several reports. She was 57.

Matthews, more commonly known as Vanity, died Monday at a hospital in Fremont, Calif., where she lived. Matthews received a kidney transplant in 1997, but her health took a turn late last year after she was diagnosed with sclerosis encapsulating peritonitis, a severely painful kidney condition.

In 1994, Matthews’ crack cocaine addiction caused an almost-fatal renal failure, and she later said Jesus Christ appeared to her, offering a second chance at life if she left behind her persona as Vanity. After her 1997 kidney transplant, Matthews became a Christian evangelist — a story she expanded on in her self-published autobiography “Blame It on Vanity.”

The singer and actress had several hits in the early 1980s with Vanity 6, most notably the Prince-produced “Nasty Gal,” released in 1982. The sexual single made it to No. 1 on the Billboard dance charts, but did not perform well on the radio.

In 1984, Matthews disbanded Vanity 6. She released two solo records, “Wild Animal” and “Skin on Skin,” after signing with Motown Records.

Matthews also pursued acting, starring in the Berry Gordy-produced “The Last Dragon” in 1985. She also appeared in “Never Too Young to Die” with John Stamos, “52 Pick-Up” and “Action Jackson.”

Rapper MC Hammer paid tribute to Matthews via Twitter Monday.

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    1. GinRNBSN says:

      The statement re: Prince not helping may have been r/t his religion and nothing more. Or he may have helped with a contract stating he was not to be mentioned. He may have helped anonamously. Also, her husband may not have wanted Prince’s help, although, when you love someone, people will do just about anything to help.

    2. queenbeetv88 says:

      Vanity was trying to raise money for a kidney transplant through crowd funding. I am wondering why Prince didn’t help her since he was worth around $300 million?

    3. Kim says:

      I don’t have much to say because my heart hurts at the fact that Vanity is of no longer this world, however, I find comfort knowing that she is seated at the right hand of GOD! It is of no importance what people thought of her zeal for GOD… what’s rewarding is that she has taken her seat next to her “Prince of peace”, AMEN and HALLELUJAH! and the lord said to her “Job well done my servant” Denise, you will forever be loved and missed, beautiful soul :-(

    4. RIP Vanity. Lord knows you were so, so fine.

    5. How do yall know Prince didn’t try to help?? She was married right? How yall didn’t know her husband (if still married)would allow him t0? Some of yall won’t even give your brother and sister money on the late rent/mortgage but you always want to point and blame somebody for someone’s own self destruction everybody on here wasn’t even thinking about vanity or her well being until now!! People are so phuckin fake!!

    6. Cat says:

      She gave her life to Christ, so she’s at peace now. Nice lady.

      • Stan Heck says:

        I spoke/chatted with “Denise” many times in the past 10 years or so. Late one night we must of chatted on-line for 1 hour or more. What I admired about her was the fact she knew she would always be known as “Vanity” but she really wished people would refer to her as “Denise” Yes she became a born again Christian but she truly felt her being alive was a miracle and “God Saved Her” from her death bed!
        At the time the doctors felt she would not make it through the night. She made a promise to God that if she was saved she would change everything about her! . When she got better she “ditched” her alter ego Vanity and kept her promise to God.

        When I shared with her my story about being “sober” she was very happy for me. Later when we lost our (again) to a hurricane she insisted that “God was Telling me Something”.
        So we did move from Mississippi to Las Vegas NV.

        I feel now that I lost a friend. Her life had amazing chapters. Her life also proves “People do change” It sad that it is now at an end. RIP DENISE

    7. JOIE S HILL says:

      Really wish that people here,like the guy above me,would cease and desist from these annoying little infomercials-we lost a celebrity,who made a very wise choice with her life,and her faith makes a huge difference! the celebrity,formerly known as Vanity,did what few in her shoes would never do-she
      took her spiritual health more seriously then her celebrity status,and that takes serious guts! two of her
      80s movies,”ACTION JACKSON” and “THE LAST DRAGON”,were really strong hits,and i’m very impressed over the choice that she made with her life! while we will all miss her,her passing will ensure her serious spiritual reward for making Jesus Christ her lord and savior,and that is the most wise and important step that anyone can take,despite the hate and loathing that many have over Christians-totally unimportant! may Denise Matthews find eternal happiness,when she appears before the Lord,for making such an important choice,as well as a brave sacrifice over her celebrity-she will be dearly missed,but better still,she is in good hands! Aloha and Mahalo,Vanity!

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