Bangles Artistfacts

  • 1981-1989 1998-
    Susanna HoffsVocals, guitar
    Vicki PetersonGuitar, vocals
    Debbi PetersonDrums, vocals
    Michael SteeleBass, vocals1983-1989, 1998-2005
    Annette ZilinskasBass, vocals1981-1983, 2018-
  • Originally called The Bangs, they had to change it because another band had that name. That band offered the name to the girls for $20,000, but they refused. Some brainstorming led to "Bangles," which sounds like "Beatles" and is also the name of a song by the Electric Prunes.
  • Their first manager was Miles Copeland, who managed The Go-Go's and The Police. He is the brother of Stewart Copeland from The Police.
  • In a Songfacts interview with Vicki Peterson, she described their sound: "We did a lot of faux 12-string arpeggios. We did a lot of strumming, almost like a folk-rock approach to guitar, and then mixed that in with the punk attack, which was very much a part of our sound, as it was for most of the bands. We definitely played with punk energy, if not necessarily the same kind of nihilistic attitude. We had that energy going behind us. The guitar was attacked more than it was stroked."
  • Michael Steele, despite having a boy's name, is a girl. She was in The Runaways with Joan Jett and Lita Ford.
  • The group formed in 1981 when the Peterson sisters were looking for another band member and Hoffs was looking for a band. They bonded over their love of The Beatles and John Lennon, who had recently been killed.
  • Hoffs emerged as the group's focal point, but that wasn't the plan. All four members sing and write songs, although Hoffs and Vicki Peterson did most of the songwriting. They pushed for equal billing in promotional materials and stage presence, with no member getting priority placement. But the press gravitated to Hoffs, who sang lead on their biggest hits. This gave the impression she was the leader, or at least the lead singer, and it caused a rift that led to their breakup. The whole proved greater than the sum of its parts: Hoffs released solo albums in 1991 and 1996, but they both underperformed.
  • In 1987, Hoffs starred in the poorly received movie The Allnighter, which was directed by her mother, Tamar.
  • Hoffs and Vicki Peterson share a love of literature that informs their lyrics. This can be heard on "Dover Beach," from their debut album, inspired by a Matthew Arnold poem. Peterson studied at UCLA, but dropped out because she didn't like the way classes were taught. "You had to just accept what you were being told and pretty much regurgitate it back," she said.
    I wasn't crazy about that."
  • Hoffs married director Jay Roach in 1993. The Bangles got back together to write a song for Austin Powers 2, The Spy Who Shagged Me, which Roach directed.
  • In the early '80s, the Bangles were part of the Paisley Underground, a group of independent-minded Los Angeles acts with '60s influences. Paisley acts like The Three O'Clock and The Dream Syndicate got a lot of positive press and grew a devoted fan base, but only the Bangles broke through. By 1986, the Paisley scene was pretty much over, but the Bangles were huge.
  • Hoffs sang with Randy Newman at the 2001 Oscars. They performed Newman's "A Fool In Love" from the movie Meet The Parents. Hoffs got the gig because her husband directed the movie.
  • Vicki Peterson married musician John Cowsill of The Cowsills on October 25, 2003.

Comments: 6

  • Carla from MinnesotaFollowing and Hazy Shade of Winter. I Think I Should Be With You... are my favorites. I love the magical sound of Hazy, I love the dark sound of Following. Debbi has a great voice, I've always loved her.
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrHow many girls these days are named Michael?
  • Paul from Detroit, MiMy favorite Bangles song is one that is included on their greatest hits (I think) but didn't fare well commercially as a single. It's called "Following." I think Michael Steele sings the lead on it.
  • Andy from Arlington, VaThe Bangles were a very good and underrated band. They were intended to be a band where all four members contributed equally, both in terms of writing and singing. However, record execs saw to it that Susanna Hoffs became the "lead singer" because she was the cutest one with a sexy girly voice to match. Once that happened, the Bangles got pigeonholed as a poppy girl band, and broke up soon after. Their Greatest Hits album contains several songs sung by other members of the band, which were not hits, but they're quite good.
  • Paul from Greenwood, ScI once waited in line in a blizzard to get front row tix for a Bangles show. Musically they were okay, but the vocals for Eternal Flame must have been studio overdubbed, cause Miss Hoffs didn't come close to the high stuff. Shocking.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Timothy B. Schmit of the Eagles

Timothy B. Schmit of the EaglesSongwriter Interviews

Did this Eagle come up with the term "Parrothead"? And what is it like playing "Hotel California" for the gazillionth time?

Gary Lewis

Gary LewisSongwriter Interviews

Gary Lewis and the Playboys had seven Top 10 hits despite competition from The Beatles. Gary talks about the hits, his famous father, and getting drafted.

David Gray

David GraySongwriter Interviews

David Gray explains the significance of the word "Babylon," and talks about how songs are a form of active imagination, with lyrics that reveal what's inside us.

Top American Idol Moments: Songs And Scandals

Top American Idol Moments: Songs And ScandalsSong Writing

Surprise exits, a catfight and some very memorable performances make our list of the most memorable Idol moments.

Vanessa Carlton

Vanessa CarltonSongwriter Interviews

The "A Thousand Miles" singer on what she thinks of her song being used in White Chicks and how she captured a song from a dream.

Stan Ridgway

Stan RidgwaySongwriter Interviews

Go beyond the Wall of Voodoo with this cinematic songwriter.