In 1981, a folk-rock singer named Susanna Hoffs rang up a couple of garage-rocking sisters, from Northridge on the northern rim of the San Fernando Valley, called Debbi and Vicki Peterson.
The Peterson girls had placed an ad in a Los Angeles newspaper called The Recycler (the paper of choice if you were in the market for a cheap used car or some “pre-loved” furniture).
The resulting all-girl quartet were originally known as The Colours (with a British “u”) and then The Bangs and played a set of bouncy, sixties-style tunes. Their eponymous debut EP in 1982 sold 40,000 copies.
Their love for the music of the sixties and their desire to create a small revival brought them to the attention of others (including Miles Copeland – manager of The Police) and in 1983 CBS cleaned up their image and signed the group to a four-album deal.
Their first full-length album, All Over The Place (1984), proved to be 60s-influenced, distinctly lacking the omnipresent 80s synthesizer.
An intensive first round of touring and marketing made the girls grow up fast. With their new look from CBS, the introduction of synthesizers and with the most memorable songs penned by outside songwriters, including Prince, they released the heavily commercial Different Light (1985), which went multi-platinum and contained the hit singles Manic Monday and Walk Like An Egyptian.
They spent the next two years vigorously touring and promoting the album, pausing to record a rock version of the Simon & Garfunkel hit Hazy Shade Of Winter for the Less Than Zero soundtrack in 1987, in an attempt to rid themselves of the ‘Go-Go’ image and establish themselves as an independent rock band.
Everything (1988) was a departure from their original material and was more romantic, rich in ballads written by Hoffs.
It was to be their last album and spawned a few minor hits and the #1 Eternal Flame, written by Hoffs and Madonna‘s songwriters, Steinberg and Kelly.
The four band members had grown into four songwriters, each with her own musical styles.
The original union of the band was under a strong sixties influence which had slowly faded with age and due to various commercial pressures. Their decade-long career ended with a Greatest Hits (1990) compilation album.
Hoffs moved on to a semi-promising solo career, and chief songwriter Vicki Peterson found herself in one of the best unsigned bands in America, The Continental Drifters.
Hoffs also made cameo appearances in two of the Austin Powers movies as a member of Powers’ band, Ming Tea.