- the Apollonia 6 story


After the release of Vanity 6's self-titled debut album in 1982, followed by a support slot on Prince's 1999 tour, and the impending acting debut of Vanity as female lead opposite Prince in Purple Rain, things looked very bright for Vanity 6 in 1983. But when Vanity suddenly quit the Purple Rain film, the brief career of Vanity 6 was over. In this article, Per Nilsen takes a closer look at Apollonia 6, which rose out of the ashes of Vanity 6.

Following the 1999 tour, Prince had started recording songs, including "Promise To Be True," "Vibrator," and "Sex Shooter," for an intended second Vanity 6 album. There were also numerous songs left over from sessions for their first album to choose from, including "I Need A Man," "Jealous Girl," "Moral Majority," "Pizza," and "Too Much." Prince had also recorded "No Call U" (known as "U Call Me" amongst fans) and "Extra Lovable" with Vanity singing lead. However, after participating in acting and singing sessions in preparation for Purple Rain, Vanity suddenly quit and left Prince's camp.

Although her romantic falling-out with Prince has often been attributed as the main reason for her sudden departure, more important was the fact that she was asking for more money than the producers were willing to pay her. She was fielding other offers, including a role in Martin Scorsese's planned The Last Temptation Of Christ, and she felt her role in Purple Rain was worth more than the producers seemed to think it was. "The movie was Prince's dream. He was bringing in everybody for very little money. You've got to pay people. You've got to be fair," said Vanity. "They wouldn't pay me enough money to go through with the crap I would have to go through. I don't do things like this free of charge. I didn't want to be stuck in the snow at 6 in the morning in some camper with no place to change clothes. Who needs that?"

Vanity 6 becomes Apollonia 6

The film was too far along in development to be substantially re-written. The problem was finding a substitute to fill the void left by Vanity's departure. After auditioning some 700 women in New York and Los Angeles, a 22-year-old model named Patricia Kotero was chosen for the female lead role. (---) She got the part and Prince suggested the name Apollonia, after a character in The Godfather. And so, Apollonia 6 rose from the ashes of the defunct Vanity 6.

"Sex Shooter" was the starting point of the Apollonia 6 album. Having previously cut the song with Vanity on lead vocals, Prince re-recorded the song with Apollonia in his home studio on a day off from filming Purple Rain. Work on the album continued after shooting in Minneapolis had been completed. Prince re-located to Los Angeles for recording sessions at Sunset Sound and to shoot some complimentary footage for the film.

Some of the first songs Prince recorded for the album in late December 1983 and early 1984 included "The Glamorous Life," "In A Spanish Villa," "Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar," "Oliver's House," and a song called "Blue Love." He also revamped the Vanity 6 outtake "Moral Majority" and recorded "17 Days" for possible use by Apollonia 6, to be sung by Brenda, the group's smoker (hence the lyric, "All I've got is two cigarettes and this broken heart of mine"). Work on their album continued throughout January and February 1984 alongside sessions for The Time's Ice Cream Castle and other recordings.

The first configuration of the album had the following track listing: "Take Me With U" / "Sex Shooter" / "Manic Monday" / "A Million Miles (I Love You)" / "Ooo She She Wa Wa" / "Some Kind Of Lover" / "In A Spanish Villa." By this time, in late February 1984, Prince had decided to withhold some of the songs he had initially intended for the group, instead planning them for an album with Sheila E. He also decided to keep "17 Days" for a single B-side ("When Doves Cry"). "The Glamorous Life" was written by Prince about Apollonia. "He used to make all these stupid jokes, 'You're the kind of chick who would wear a mink coat in the summertime.' To this day I don't have my own mink coat! When Sheila came into the scene, Prince took away the song from us and gave it to her. At that point it was like, 'Man, this is just not fair.' Since I was a newcomer, I kinda bit my tongue, but Susan and Brenda really let him have it."

Prince's duet with Apollonia, "Take Me With U," was planned as the album's lead-off single, and with "Manic Monday" and "Sex Shooter" as two other strong pop tunes and potential hits, the album was shaping up to become one of Prince's most commercial, pop-oriented side projects thus far. A month later, however, Prince changed his mind and reclaimed "Take Me With U" to use it on his Purple Rain album instead. It was the last track added to Purple Rain, and "Computer Blue," which had already been shortened a number of times, had to be edited one last time to accommodate for the song. Towards the end of the Sunset Sound sessions, Prince recorded "Blue Limousine" for Apollonia 6 as a replacement for "Take Me With U."

Back in Minneapolis after this nearly four-month long stay in Los Angeles, Prince cut "Happy Birthday, Mr. Christian" at the Eden Prairie (Flying Cloud Drive) warehouse he was using for rehearsals and recording sessions up until the Purple Rain tour. "Manic Monday" was still included on a Warner Bros. pre-release cassette tape of the Apollonia 6 album, but Prince pulled the song at last minute, replacing it with "Happy Birthday, Mr. Christian." He later gave "Manic Monday" to The Bangles, who scored a huge international hit with their own version of the song in 1986.

Lacking conviction

After Sheila E.'s The Glamorous Life and The Time's Ice Cream Castle, Apollonia 6 became the third Starr Company production in 1984 when it was released on October 1st. Though Prince's name doesn't appear anywhere on the record, it was clearly another sample of his undercover work, as he wrote, played and produced most of it. The songs on the album are attributed to Sheila E., members of Apollonia 6, and The Revolution. In reality, Prince was responsible for all of the songs, but he gave Lisa Coleman a co-writing credit on "A Million Miles (I Love You)," while Brenda Bennett received a co-credit on "Some Kind Of Lover."

Apollonia 6 fade away

In view of how many first-rate songs Prince decided not to use on the Apollonia 6 album, including "Take Me With U," "Manic Monday," "The Glamorous Life," and "17 Days," it is obvious that Prince lost interest in the project somewhere along the line, instead turning his attention to Sheila E. and his next side project, The Family. Vanity was clearly a crucial inspiring force behind Prince's concept of a raunchy, sexy girl trio. For Apollonia, it was much more a case of playing a role, and she made it quite clear that her career goals did not necessarily include a future as one part of Apollonia 6. She never committed herself to anything beyond the Purple Rain film and an album with Apollonia 6. Consequently, the project lacked conviction and it is fairly evident that Prince's heart was not in the project.

There was talk of making videos for all the tracks on the album, and Apollonia claimed at the time, "Warners requested - no demanded - that we make a video for every song on the album." Apart from a video for "Sex Shooter," which was released as a single (also available in an extended version on maxi-single), nothing happened to the grandiose plans. With no second single, the project slowly faded away, perhaps not missed by too many.

With hindsight, Apollonia said in 1989, "Purple Rain was a success and Apollonia was a device for that concept, but there's no way that any woman could attain respectability travelling around the world in her undergarments."

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