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Thread started 05/13/11 8:41am

PurpleLove7

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Vanity 6's Brenda Bennett talks about Prince and her new CD

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v633/vc61/57a854e75275cac32472edf1a0780f5f.jpg

She is the legendary singer/songwriter, Brenda Bennett, and she is new to Atlanta. You may know her from the Tombstone Blues Band or as the "cigarette-smoking, tough girl" from the original Pussycat Dolls formed in the early 80s - Prince’s Vanity 6.

There is no doubt, you’ve partied to her sultry vocals on their track “Nasty Girl” or maybe even mimicked her moves in the cult classic motion picture “Purple Rain,” as she so cooly swayed and crooned her way through “Sex Shooter.” She was the voice behind Prince and gave the Minneapolis sound and pop culture a vocal swag that only she could deliver. Her deep lower register vocal influence can be heard in artists like T-Boz (of the legendary girl trio - TLC) and on Jody Watley's major hit, "Still a Thrill." And that's just a couple of examples.

Prince once told Bennett, “You could be in a choir of 100 people and I'd still be able to pick out your voice.”

Brenda Bennett can be heard on lead vocals on "Some Kind Of Lover," "A Million Miles (I Love You)," and "Blue Limousine" on the 1984 Apollonia 6 album. She can also be heard on background vocals of the song "17 Days" that Prince withdrew from their album. The song became a B-Side of his single "When Doves Cry." Brenda Bennett was also the first to record the massive hit "Manic Monday," which was later recorded by The Bangles.

No question, she’s been there and done that. Now she’s in Atlanta, recording pieces to her upcoming CD - A Capella.

My friend, Brenda, and I sat down in Future Soundz Studios in Marietta for a rare interview where she tells it all to our Examiner readers.



What is your full birth name?

Brenda Elizabeth Claire Siobhan.

In what city were you born?

Near Fingal's Cave; an island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Do you have siblings? If so, how many?

Yes, two brothers. Brian, I lost 10 years ago, and it is to him that my latest CD is dedicated. He passed away suddenly from a fall down a flight of stairs. He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and never regained consciousness. He was a fabulous guitar player and he and I were starting to write together again a few months before he died. Then, there is Bruce who is still with me. He's an awesome bass player and is playing with me on the "A Capella" project; very cool dude.

What is your ethnicity?

I only know so much from my father's side. His grandfather was German and French. Apparently, he was a pirate.

Were your parents musicians?

Yes... that's where I got my first exposure to music. My mom played accordion and piano and my dad played guitar. Although my dad didn't like it, both he and my mom sang. They were both country musicians.

At what age did you discover you were a music lover?

With so many people in my family being musically inclined, music has been a part of my life always. I think I would have to say a particular time. It was a Friday night sometime in the fall of 1963. There used to be a show on Friday nights, The Jack Parr Show. He had a musical guest from time to time and on one particular Friday night, he showed some footage he brought back of a show at the London Palladium Theater in England of a group called The Beatles. I fell in love with them and their music and haven't looked back since.

At what age did you discover you were blessed with a great singing voice?

I do thank the Lord for the blessing he has bestowed on me to sing and enjoy it. I have been singing since I was a young child. I can never look at myself as being a great singer though. I do like the sound of my voice and feel I have a distinct sound to it.

How many instruments do you play, if any?

Most times, I consider myself a rhythm hacker on guitar. I do play good solid rhythm. I play percussion instruments. A bit of piano and a bit of bass guitar.

What is the name of the very first band you ever joined?

Ken Lyon and The Tombstone Blues Band, it was around 1973. I had just come back from a six-month, back-packing tour of Europe with some friends. On my return, a close friend, Sybilla Hyde, asked if I would be interested in singing as a backup vocalist with a band she had been working with. They'd just landed a recording contract and was signed by Charles Koppelman with the then CBS Records and needed another singer. Anyway, she wanted to know if I would be interested. It was something I always wanted to do. Being that I landed in America with no place to live, no job and only one thin dime in my pocket I figured...'What have I got to lose?' That is when my own career in music began.

What is the name of the first song you've ever written?

I started writing songs at around 12 years old, as I was trying to learn to play guitar. I can't recall any specific ones that turned out as being memorable, so I'll have to go with the song that was on the first Tombstone's album entitled "Hold Me Closer." I still have people asking me about that one to this day. I guess it stuck in a lot of people's minds.

How old were you when you wrote it?

I was 19.

Who were some of the artists that inspired you as a musician/songwriter?

The Beatles and Joni Mitchell, as I was starting out... James Taylor... Bonnie Raitt... and yet, I continue to be inspired by people such as Lucinda Williams, Pattie Griffin, Shawn Colvin, Keith Urban, Monty Powell. Just recently, Townes Van Zandt. Oh, yes... and Vivaldi.
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Through music videos, your persona comes off as being "overly confident and "take charge." Is that an accurate representation? If not, which three adjectives best describe Brenda Bennett?

Overlyconfident? Take charge? Yes, I would say confident... not sure about the take charge part. As a mom, and a single one at that, you do have to learn to take charge. However, the Brenda Bennett persona most people saw was a tough nut, tomboy image I was portraying. It was a personality I could relate to having grown up a tomboy. That doesn't mean I am butch or overly masculine or anything of the sort. It means I grew up with very few girls around with whom I could be friends. The women in my family were very strong, no-nonsense kind of women who learned a lot about life from the school of hard knocks and the struggle to survive.

Do you have any close celebrity friends?

There was a time when I did, but I have spent the last 20 years pretty secluded. I've been away from the world of celebrities having and raising my son, so I'm afraid I lost touch. My life has been on a different path those 20 years.

How long did you know Prince before he asked you to be a part of Vanity 6?

About a year.

Where you the first member to join?

No. Actually, I was the last. Vanity and Susan were already in place when I was offered to join them.

Were you and Prince good friends?

My relationship with Prince... first and foremost, was a working professional one. Personally, we cared very much for each other, and yes, we were as good of friends as could be under the circumstances.

Would you consider working for Prince your toughest gig ever?

At the risk of sounding contradictory, I would have to say that on one hand, he was the toughest. But, on the other hand... he was the best. Prince has a way of extracting from you; sometimes painfully and sometimes without you even knowing it. Creatively, he pulls out your best parts; parts you never even knew you had or could do. He wasn't always nice about it... but then... it wasn't about being nice. It was about concentrating and extending yourself. It was about learning how to reach out and grow in a direction you may never have even tried to on your own. He has been called "genius" by many people… and for many reasons as well. He is a genius. Musically, I have never worked with anyone like him and I don't believe I ever will again. I am grateful, proud, and blessed to have had the opportunity to work with him.

Many suspect that Prince has dated everyone in Vanity 6. Did you ever date Prince?

I may have, if I hadn't been happily married at the time.

As far as a friendship is concerned, to whom were you closer during the era of Vanity 6... Vanity or Susan?

Susan. Both Vanity and Apolloina were the main lead focal points to the group and as such, they were much busier with other things, than Susan and I. Susan and I are still friends and still very close. I love her very much. HA! So, I suppose there's one celebrity I am still in touch with.


Who was a better friend... Vanity or Apollonia?

They were equally the same for me. They are both very beautiful, funny, warm, and savvy women.

Was there ever a conflict between Vanity 6 and Rick James' Mary Jane Girls?

Not directly. It wasn't anything created from our neck of the woods. I never knew anything about a conflict, until I saw something in the press. I didn't really pay any attention to it at the time. In fact, I don't even remember what the so-called 'conflict' was supposed to be all about.

Do you listen to today's radio?

I do like listening to the radio and I switch between stations. I like to hear what's out there but have a hard time with all the commercials.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

I tend to like good songs. Things I listen to in rock are: Nickelback, AC/DC, and Queen.

What is the name of your forthcoming CD?

A Capella. Look for it online in July 2011. Just search for Brenda Bennett.

What is the difference between your new CD, A Capella, and your past work?

This is the first time I have ever done a recording project where the material was all mine. A Capella is a CD that I produced and had a hand in everything from soup to nuts. I have written and recorded a number of things with other people but this project....this one is all me. It was a little daunting to say the least, when I first started, but I had a clear vision of what I wanted to try and get out of it and I kept that vision right up until it was finished. The material is different to what some of you out there are used to hearing from me. This is the real Brenda Bennett standing up. I'm sure when some people listen to it, there will be some to say, Hey! That could be better here or something else would have been better there. At the end of the day, I can say that I am proud of the CD. I believe in the strength of the material, and I will stand by it.

What is the name of your favorite song from the A Capella CD and why is it your favorite?

'Sidewalk Messiah.' It's the oldest one on the disc; the first one I wrote when I started writing again. Apart from that, I love the story and I love the groove. It's all about the groove!

What is your favorite restaurant in Atlanta?

I'd have to say, Twist at Phipps and Taki. There are a few.

And your favorite Atlanta hangout?

Probably, somewhere looking at houses in Vinings.

http://www.examiner.com/m...t=32955696

** props to moquake for the headz up to the article **

Peace ... & Stay Funky ...

~* The only love there is, is the love "we" make *~

www.facebook.com/purplefunklover
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Reply #1 posted 05/13/11 9:34am

HuMpThAnG

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cool

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Reply #2 posted 05/13/11 9:36am

Genesia

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Interesting read - thanks!

We don’t mourn artists because we knew them. We mourn them because they helped us know ourselves.
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Reply #3 posted 05/13/11 9:43am

cbarnes3121

i always loved her voice i thought she should of been lead singer or did some solo work with prince she is a bad ass. i would love 2 see her come back and perform wit him live back up replacing shelby

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Reply #4 posted 05/13/11 11:29am

Efan

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Nice interview. Thanks for posting this!

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Reply #5 posted 05/13/11 1:37pm

QuasarOfRock

I hope her CD is actually released, unlike other former protoges who keep promising us new music that never sees the light of day.

I love Brenda.

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Reply #6 posted 05/13/11 2:04pm

rbrpm

Can't wait 2 hear that cd!biggrin wink

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Reply #7 posted 05/13/11 3:11pm

alexnvrmnd777

Very cool. It's good to know she's doing well AND that she's still cool with Susan. I liked that line that she may very well would've been with Prince romantically if she wasn't already happily married to Roy! Sounds to me like there was some possible flirtin' (harmless, I'm sure) going on back then. cool

*proofread edit*

[Edited 5/14/11 23:05pm]

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Reply #8 posted 05/13/11 3:29pm

Genesia

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alexnvrmnd777 said:

Very cool. It's good to know she's doing well AND that she's still cool with Susan. I liked that line that she may very well would've been with Prince romantically if she wasn't already happily married to Rob! Sounds to me like there was some possible flirtin' (harmless, I'm sure) going on back then. cool

Roy. She was married to Roy Bennett.

We don’t mourn artists because we knew them. We mourn them because they helped us know ourselves.
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Reply #9 posted 05/13/11 6:30pm

Mong

She seems very cool. But you don't have a name like Siobhan unless there's some Irish there.

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Reply #10 posted 05/13/11 9:04pm

purplenuts

If she looks like that photo, she looks great for her age - or any age. I always liked her. Nice to hear some straight talk about Prince right after hearing that Mick Free interview.

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Reply #11 posted 05/13/11 9:56pm

sosgemini

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Whoever wrote that press release deserves an Oscar. lol

Great interview!

Space for sale...
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Reply #12 posted 05/14/11 5:01am

trickydmsr

QuasarOfRock said:

I hope her CD is actually released, unlike other former protoges who keep promising us new music that never sees the light of day.

I love Brenda.

without wanting to sound negative....

but would anyone actually seek out her music if she had absolutely no connection to prince?

the mary jane girls were a much tighter outfit than vanity 6 and i can't imagine anyone caring a dime if jojo mcduffie ever released another album.

i love prince but i also know for every jesse johnson there is a tony le mans (rip).

right where did i put than oran juice jones album................?

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Reply #13 posted 05/14/11 5:32am

ItsGonnaBLonel
y

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Thanx

Ive been wondering for along time, what happend to Brenda & Susan, because theres so little info/insight on them and there careers, im actually looking foward 2 a taste of her new music, normally i dont do much listening to prince proteges post-prince stuff (except the time & sheila) but she seems so sweet, & didnt speak badly about anyone

"How Can I Stand To..Stay Where I Am? Poor Butterfly Who..Dont Understand." P
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Reply #14 posted 05/14/11 1:26pm

QuasarOfRock

trickydmsr said:

QuasarOfRock said:

I hope her CD is actually released, unlike other former protoges who keep promising us new music that never sees the light of day.

I love Brenda.

without wanting to sound negative....

but would anyone actually seek out her music if she had absolutely no connection to prince?

the mary jane girls were a much tighter outfit than vanity 6 and i can't imagine anyone caring a dime if jojo mcduffie ever released another album.

i love prince but i also know for every jesse johnson there is a tony le mans (rip).

right where did i put than oran juice jones album................?

I liked her voice. If not for her connection to Prince, granted I probably would not have heard of her, but she is an actual singer.

I doubt people would be seeking out fDeluxe or Wendy & Lisa's music had there not been an initial Prince connection either. So I guess I don't understand what the fuck your point is.

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Reply #15 posted 05/14/11 1:35pm

QuasarOfRock

BTW is IS called the 'Associated artists & people' forum, so I doubt anybody discussed here would be discussed here if not for a connection to Prince.

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Reply #16 posted 05/14/11 3:35pm

trickydmsr

QuasarOfRock said:

trickydmsr said:

without wanting to sound negative....

but would anyone actually seek out her music if she had absolutely no connection to prince?

the mary jane girls were a much tighter outfit than vanity 6 and i can't imagine anyone caring a dime if jojo mcduffie ever released another album.

i love prince but i also know for every jesse johnson there is a tony le mans (rip).

right where did i put than oran juice jones album................?

I liked her voice. If not for her connection to Prince, granted I probably would not have heard of her, but she is an actual singer.

I doubt people would be seeking out fDeluxe or Wendy & Lisa's music had there not been an initial Prince connection either. So I guess I don't understand what the fuck your point is.

A big fan of the Prince song Touchy MF I see.

I'd love to stop and chat a little bit more but I'm really digging this Oran Juice Jones album....The rain crashes against my window pain....Jumped into my car didn't drive too far...

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Reply #17 posted 05/14/11 3:46pm

QuasarOfRock

trickydmsr said:

QuasarOfRock said:

I liked her voice. If not for her connection to Prince, granted I probably would not have heard of her, but she is an actual singer.

I doubt people would be seeking out fDeluxe or Wendy & Lisa's music had there not been an initial Prince connection either. So I guess I don't understand what the fuck your point is.

A big fan of the Prince song Touchy MF I see.

I'd love to stop and chat a little bit more but I'm really digging this Oran Juice Jones album....The rain crashes against my window pain....Jumped into my car didn't drive too far...

I see you can't even explain what your point was, so I guess we've wasted both our time now.

The fact that forum is called 'Associated artists and people' should be an indication that people discussed herein are in some way associated with Prince.

As for a JoJo McDuffie album, I'm sure someone would be interested in it. I mean, you actually bothered to remember her name after all these years, so she must've made an impression on at least one person.

I still don't get what Oran Juice Jones has to do with any of this, but enjoy your unfunny attempts at humour. Seems there are enough of those to keep you entertained for a few lifetimes.

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Reply #18 posted 05/14/11 4:27pm

boriquateddy

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Awwwright Brenda lookin all MILFY! WERK!!!

I am not African. Africa is in me, but I cannot return.
I am not taína. Taíno is in me, but there is no way back.
I am not european. Europe lives in me, but I have no home there.
I am new. History made me. My first language was spanglish.
And I am
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Reply #19 posted 05/14/11 9:56pm

johnart

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What's your ethnicity?? Interesting question. OK confuse

Love her and look forward to hearing the album. cool

[Edited 5/14/11 22:03pm]

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Reply #20 posted 05/14/11 11:03pm

alexnvrmnd777

Genesia said:

alexnvrmnd777 said:

Very cool. It's good to know she's doing well AND that she's still cool with Susan. I liked that line that she may very well would've been with Prince romantically if she wasn't already happily married to Rob! Sounds to me like there was some possible flirtin' (harmless, I'm sure) going on back then. cool

Roy. She was married to Roy Bennett.

Dammit!! That was a typo! That's what I get for not proofreading! Thanks for the correction, though!

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Reply #21 posted 05/15/11 4:06am

NouveauDance

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johnart said:

What's your ethnicity?? Interesting question. OK confuse

Ha! I took a double take at that too! confuse

Thanks for posting, good interview and the album is my list of shit to buy. cool

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Reply #22 posted 05/15/11 8:56am

laurarichardso
n

QuasarOfRock said:

trickydmsr said:

without wanting to sound negative....

but would anyone actually seek out her music if she had absolutely no connection to prince?

the mary jane girls were a much tighter outfit than vanity 6 and i can't imagine anyone caring a dime if jojo mcduffie ever released another album.

i love prince but i also know for every jesse johnson there is a tony le mans (rip).

right where did i put than oran juice jones album................?

I liked her voice. If not for her connection to Prince, granted I probably would not have heard of her, but she is an actual singer.

I doubt people would be seeking out fDeluxe or Wendy & Lisa's music had there not been an initial Prince connection either. So I guess I don't understand what the fuck your point is.

Co-Sign No one outside of few orgers cares about th fDeluxe project but we keep getting post on this board. At least Brenda can carry a tune. I honest think the negative naysaysers get pissed when a protegee really has nothing bad to say about P.

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Reply #23 posted 05/15/11 9:24am

sosgemini

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QuasarOfRock said:

I liked her voice. If not for her connection to Prince, granted I probably would not have heard of her, but she is an actual singer.

I doubt people would be seeking out fDeluxe or Wendy & Lisa's music had there not been an initial Prince connection either. So I guess I don't understand what the fuck your point is.

Uhh, not gonna speak on FDeluxe cause that is a very niche product but at this point I would say W&L have more fans who are of the alt-pop kind than Prince. Shoot, you look at an act like Veruca Salt, they followed them for their Eroica love and not the funk of Fruit At The Bottom.

Space for sale...
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Reply #24 posted 05/15/11 10:44am

cbarnes3121

laurarichardson said:

QuasarOfRock said:

I liked her voice. If not for her connection to Prince, granted I probably would not have heard of her, but she is an actual singer.

I doubt people would be seeking out fDeluxe or Wendy & Lisa's music had there not been an initial Prince connection either. So I guess I don't understand what the fuck your point is.

Co-Sign No one outside of few orgers cares about th fDeluxe project but we keep getting post on this board. At least Brenda can carry a tune. I honest think the negative naysaysers get pissed when a protegee really has nothing bad to say about P.

you are so correct i think people on here want all of prince past associates to have bad blood with him. 1st off im sure they knew there were hired to do a job not 2 b his friend. people on here like drama

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Reply #25 posted 05/15/11 11:11am

Spinlight

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sosgemini said:

QuasarOfRock said:

Uhh, not gonna speak on FDeluxe cause that is a very niche product but at this point I would say W&L have more fans who are of the alt-pop kind than Prince. Shoot, you look at an act like Veruca Salt, they followed them for their Eroica love and not the funk of Fruit At The Bottom.

I don't see the connection to Veruca Salt? Eroica and Fruit at the Bottom are W&L albums but that last sentence makes it sound like either you randomly mention VS being fans of W&L or that VS had albums named Eroica and FatB.

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Reply #26 posted 05/15/11 12:02pm

lipstick

This is the first interview of Brenda that I have read. It's great to hear from her. Her replies were honest and straight forward, I like that. She seems genuine, not fake. The written introduction of her before her interview was excellent. It's good to hear she is still friends with Susan. Beautiful photo.

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Reply #27 posted 05/15/11 4:22pm

SoulAlive

Brenda was one of Prince's coolest proteges.She has a good voice too.Her vocals on "Blue Limousine" took me by surprise.I wish her luck with this new album.

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Reply #28 posted 05/15/11 7:51pm

QuasarOfRock

sosgemini said:

QuasarOfRock said:

Uhh, not gonna speak on FDeluxe cause that is a very niche product but at this point I would say W&L have more fans who are of the alt-pop kind than Prince. Shoot, you look at an act like Veruca Salt, they followed them for their Eroica love and not the funk of Fruit At The Bottom.

Regardless of their current fanbase, though, would we have heard of Wendy & Lisa without them having initially been in the Revolution?

I'm not saying they aren't talented, and talent would hopefully have won out, but the fact of the matter is it was a huge 'foot in the door' for them.

I was only responding to someone who asked me would we know about Brenda Bennett if not for a Prince affiliation, and I was only saying that most 'associated artists' wouldn't be discussed here if not for their association.

That's no reflection on Wendy & Lisa's current success or their abilities.

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Reply #29 posted 05/16/11 5:32am

sosgemini

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Spinlight said:

sosgemini said:

QuasarOfRock said:

Uhh, not gonna speak on FDeluxe cause that is a very niche product but at this point I would say W&L have more fans who are of the alt-pop kind than Prince. Shoot, you look at an act like Veruca Salt, they followed them for their Eroica love and not the funk of Fruit At The Bottom.

I don't see the connection to Veruca Salt? Eroica and Fruit at the Bottom are W&L albums but that last sentence makes it sound like either you randomly mention VS being fans of W&L or that VS had albums named Eroica and FatB.

The members of Veruca Salt are huge Wendy & Lisa fans and actually met at an Eroica era show. They are part of the whole Lilith type fan that got into them post funk.

Space for sale...
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