Behind the Band Name: The Bangles

As a trio in 1981, singer Susanna Hoffs and sisters Vicki Peterson (guitar) and Debbi Peterson (drums) called themselves the Colours. Shortly after the band renamed themselves the Bangs.

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Paisley Underground

The Bangs were part of the Paisley Underground scene of the early to mid-’80s, generated from the psychedelic haze of bands like the Byrds decades earlier. The Bangs played into the 1960s-pop vibe along with Mazzy Star, Three O’Clock, and the Dream Syndicate.

In 1981, the Bangs recorded, produced, and released their debut single, “Getting Out of Hand,” along with B-side “Call on Me.” They were later signed to I.R.S., a label owned by Miles Copeland III (brother of the Police drummer Stewart Copeland). Along with the Bangles, Copeland, who also managed the Police, signed the Go-Gos, the Cramps, Dead Kennedys, R.E.M., Berlin, and the Alarm among others throughout the decade.

The Bangles

After recording an EP in 1982 and releasing another single “The Real World”— now as a foursome with bassist Annette Zilinskas —the band found out that another band had previously registered “the Bangs.” To avoid any legal issues, they dropped ‘the’ and changed “Bangs” to “Bangles.” Shortly afterward, they released their debut EP Bangles.

A former founding member of the Runaways, Micki (Michael) Steele later replaced Zilinskas, forming the classic lineup of the Bangles. (Zilinskas later rejoined the Bangles in 2018 and has remained a member of the band since then.)

The Mid-’80s

Signing with Columbia, the Bangles released their 1984 debut, All Over the Place, and by the mid-1980s were an ’80s pop-rock sensation.

The band’s second album, Different Light, came along with No. 1 hits like the Prince-penned workers’ qualm of “Manic Monday”—wish it were Sunday / ‘Cause that’s my fun day—and “Walk Like an Egyptian,” complete with its MTV-approved music video of people dancing to hieroglyphic-inspired movements.

In 1987, The Bangles pulled in another hit with their cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s 1966 “A Hazy Shade of Winter” for the film soundtrack Less than Zero

At the end of the decade, Everything brought out more hits for the Bangles, including “In Your Room” and the power-pop ballad “Eternal Flame.”

Breakup and Makeup

At one point, Hoffs became singled out as the lead singer of the band when all contributed as vocalists and songwriters. The friction led to the Bangles’ breakup in 1989.

Hoffs explored her solo career and released her debut When You’re a Boy in 1991, while Vicki Peterson played with other bands, including a brief stint with the Go-Gos. In 1998, the band reformed and pulled together the music for the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, directed by Hoffs’ husband Jay Roach.

The Bangles released their fourth album Doll Revolution in 2003 and followup Sweetheart of the Sun nearly a decade later in 2011.

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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