MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Sad news from the music world, and also news that hits close to home for Minnesotans. Prince's protegee' Vanity died at the age of 57 on Monday. The singer worked closely with The Purple One but struggled with health issues which she blamed on drug use.
To most of the world, she was Vanity, the sexy singer who strutted around on stage in lingerie and high heels. To others, she was Denise Matthews, a born-again Evangelist.
But to Matt Fink, she was simply a friend. When he heard the news, he felt "shock, sadness, maybe immediate 'oh no,'" he said.
Fink first met the former model in the early 80's when he was a keyboardist for The Revolution and Prince tapped Matthews to lead his all-girl group Vanity 6. "Nasty Girl" went to number one on the dance charts and Vanity 6 joined Prince and the time on their tour to support 1999.
But Fink said he lost touch with Vanity after she left Prince's camp before filming started on "Purple Rain" because she couldn't come to terms with with the movie's producers over what she should be paid to play Prince's love interest, a role eventually filled by Apollonia.
"She had so much opportunity to do other films and work with other TV shows or solo career as a recording artist," Fink said. "Never expressed any regret to me about it anyway."
After appearing in movies like "Action Jackson" in the mid-80's and a couple of albums, her fast-paced Hollywood lifestyle took a toll on her health. An addiction to crack cocaine led to a near deadly kidney failure in the early 90's.
She later renounced her former life and became an ordained minister.
"Her faith was tested obviously because of what she did. She felt she needed to turn to God more to overcome those addictions she had," Fink said.
Fink said they reconnected about five years ago and Vanity seemed resigned to the fact that her life would be shortened by her ongoing health problems.
"We want her to rest in peace and hope she has found happiness on the other side," Fink said. "That's the most important thing."