Former Prince Protégé Vanity Dead at 57


Singer Vanity, a former protégé of Prince, has died. She was just 57.

Reports say the singer/actress, born Denise Matthews, died Monday (Feb. 15) at a hospital in Fremont, California. A cause of death was unknown, but she had struggled with kidney disease for years, reports USA Today.

Vanity shot to stardom in the 1980s with the girl group Vanity 6, as well as her association with Prince. During her music career, she released four albums ... and is likely best known for her 1982 hit, "Nasty Girl". She also appeared in a number of films, including The Last Dragon, 52 Pick-Up and Action Jackson.

In 1992, Matthews' health declined, when she was hospitalized for kidney failure, which she later blamed on cocaine and other drug use. "I was sick inside. I was a crack cocaine addict and didn’t even know how to wake up in the morning without some smoke," she told the AP in 1999.

She eventually renounced her Hollywood lifestyle and became a Christian minister. She married former NFL pro Anthony Smith (who was recently sentenced to life in prison for murder) in 1995, though they divorced the next year.

According to USA Today, Matthews launched a GoFundMe page last year, aimed at helping pay her medical bills. Apparently, she had gone through 23 surgeries and was on dialysis three times a week.