The Bangles are back in the studio recording a new album after a mini tour, a VH1 “Behind the Music” and a VH1 live concert appearance. Long time Gretsch Drum endorser, Debbi Peterson has been joined in the Gretsch family by her sister Vicki, who is now playing a Gretsch Country Classic Junior (pictured) and a Tennessee Rose on tour and in the studio.
Formerly known as the Colours, the Bangs and finally the Bangles, this all-female Los Angeles quartet mastered the art of melodic west coast guitar-based pop and, like the Go-Go’s immediately before them, led the way for all-female groups in the latter half of the 80s.
Vicki shakes it up! The band was formed in 1981 and originally comprised Susanna Hoffs (b. 17 January 1962, Newport Beach, California, USA; guitar, vocals), Debbi Peterson (b. 22 August 1961, Los Angeles, California, USA; drums, vocals), Vicki Peterson (b. 11 January 1958, Los Angeles, California, USA; guitar, vocals) and Annette Zilinskas (bass, vocals). They emerged from the ‘paisley underground’ scene that spawned bands such as Rain Parade and Dream Syndicate. The Bangles’ first recordings were made on their own Downkiddie label and then for Miles Copeland’s Faulty Products set-up, which resulted in a flawed self-titled mini-album. On signing to the major CBS label in 1983, the line-up had undergone a crucial change. Zilinskas departed (later to join Blood On The Saddle ) and was replaced by former Runaways member Michael Steele (b. 2 June 1954; bass, vocals). Their superb debut, ‘Hero Takes A Fall’, failed to chart, and their interpretation of Kimberley Rew’s Soft Boys / Katrina And The Waves song ‘Going Down To Liverpool’ just scraped into the UK listing. The idea of four glamorous middle-class American girls singing about trotting down to a labour exchange in Liverpool with their UB40 cards, was both bizarre and quaint. The Bangles’ energetic and harmonious style showed both a grasp and great affection for 60s pop with their Beatles and Byrds -like sound. Again they failed to chart, although their sparkling debut, All Over The Place, scraped into the US chart.
Vicki shakes it up! Following regular live work they built up a strong following, although it was not until the US/UK number 2 hit single ‘Manic Monday’, written by Prince, and the huge success of Different Light that they won a wider audience. The media, meanwhile, were picking out Hoffs as the leader of the group. This sowed the seeds of dissatisfaction within the line-up that would later come to a head. Both album and single narrowly missed the tops of the US and UK charts, and throughout 1986 the Bangles could do no wrong. Their interpretation of Jules Shear ’s ‘If She Knew What She Wants’ showed touches of mid-60s Mamas And The Papas, while ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’ (composed by former Rachel Sweet svengali Liam Sternberg) was pure 80s quirkiness and gave the group a US number 1/UK number 3 hit. The unusual choice as a cover version of the Simon And Garfunkel song ‘Hazy Shade Of Winter’, which was featured in the film Less Than Zero, gave them a US number 2 hit/UK number 11 hit in 1988. The third album, Everything, offered another collection of classy pop that generated the hit singles ‘In Your Room’ (US number 5, 1988) and the controversial ‘Eternal Flame’ in the spring of 1989, which gave the group a UK/US number 1 hit.