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Susanna Hoffs

Susanna HoffsAKA Susanna Lee Hoffs

Born: 17-Jan-1959
Birthplace: Newport Beach, CA

Gender: Female
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Musician, Actor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Lead singer of The Bangles

The main voice for one of the most popular girl groups of the 1980s, Susanna Hoffs emerged from a family with its foot already in the door of the entertainment industry -- her mother being film writer and director Tamar Simon Hoffs. Both Susanna and her brothers were given an early start in their musical training courtesy of an uncle who had worked as a musician for performers such as Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt. At the age of eight she began playing the guitar, but interests in dance and acting competed for her attention up until her years at University, when she chose to make music her focus and formed the band The Psychiatrists with her two siblings.

As the 70s came to a close, Hoffs decided it was time to move on and start a band of her own. An ad in the LA free paper The Recycler led her to sisters Vicki Peterson and Debbi Peterson, and, after a meeting that indicated a great deal of musical compatibility, the three decided to consolidate their talents. In their original trio configuration Vicki handled the bass duties, with Debbi on drums, Susanna on guitar and all contributing vocals; eventually bassist Annette Zalinskas was brought on board and Vicki moved to lead guitar. The group moved through a succession of names before arriving at the one under which they would earn their fame: starting with Colours (appropriate to their love of 60s psychedelic pop) they later changed over to The Supersonic Bangs, which was soon shortened to just The Bangs. Using this name, they established a reputation for themselves on the LA club circuit, as well as releasing the self-produced 7" single Getting Out Of Hand on their own Downkiddie imprint. Before long the interest of IRS Records founder Miles Copeland was aroused, and a deal with the subsidiary Faulty Products was arranged.

Now calling themselves The Bangles (due to the pre-existence of another band called The Bangs), the quartet managed only a five-song EP (released in 1982) before Faulty kicked the metaphorical can, leaving them stranded on the verge of a popular breakthrough. At this time Zalinskas defected to Blood On The Saddle, to be replaced by former lead singer for The Runways Michael Steele. A new home (and a more commercial sound) was found with corporate bigshots Columbia, and once again Hoffs and her bandmates set off down the yellow brick road with the debut full-length All Over the Place (1984). By the following year's A Different Light (and with some assistance from Prince) The Bangles were at the top of the charts and one of the most popular bands of their time. In the midst of this golden era, Susanna took a starring role in Tamar Simon Hoffs' comedy The Allnighter (1987) -- in fact, the third time she had worked in one of her mother's films (although previously only in support roles). The venture was not particularly well-received, but the music side of Hoff's career remained unaffected, her band's cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Hazy Shade Of Winter making a more successful appearance in the feature Less Than Zero that same year and giving them another run on the charts. The personal popularity of the singer also resulted in her own signature series guitar model, manufactured by the Rickenbacker company (her name would later be used again on an acoustic model issued by Taylor).

By the time of their third album Everything (1989), the four Bangles were feeling the strain of their celebrity. Although the new album was as well received as the previous two (reaching the #1 slot yet again), by the end of the year Hoffs and Steele had made the decision to move on. Much of the conflict was due to the disproportionate attention paid to Hoffs, and the singer accordingly had the most visible career after the band's demise. Her first solo effort When You're a Boy was subsequently released by Columbia in 1991; while by no means a flop, the album did not do nearly as well as had been anticipated. When label pressure to simply regurgitate the style of her past "hits" became unbearable during sessions for a second release, Hoffs asked to be released from her contract and then took several years away from the industry to marry Jay Roach (a director that would later helm the Austin Powers series of films) and start a family. A new deal was arranged with London Records in 1995, resulting in the '96 release Susannah Hoffs -- but, again, the album fell short of expected commercial returns.

Enlisitng the help of The Go-Go's guitarist Charlotte Caffey, Hoffs began work on her third solo album in 1998. It was at this time she came back in contact with Debbi Peterson, and the two decided to renew their songwriting collaboration; inevitably Vicki Peterson was brought in to contribute as well. Before long the full Bangles line-up had been reunited to record the track Get the Girl for the Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack in 1999, and the group resumed activity with a club tour and, eventually, a fourth full-length release, Doll Revolution (2003).

Father: Joshua Hoffs
Mother: Tamar Simon Hoffs (film writer/director, b. 1934)
Brother: John Hoffs (musician)
Brother: Jesse Hoffs (musican)
Husband: Jay Roach (film director, m. 17-Apr-1993)
Son: Jackson Roach (b. 9-Feb-1995)
Son: Sam Rayfield Roach (b. 10-Nov-1998)
Slept with: Prince (musician)

    High School: Palisades High School, Pacific Palisades, CA
    University: BFA Art History, UC Berkeley (1980)

    The Bangles Vocalist/Guitarist 1981-89;2000-present
    Ming Tea Vocalist/Guitarist 1998
    Susanna Hoffs
    Obama Victory Fund 2012

    Austin Powers in Goldmember (22-Jul-2002) · Gillian Shagwell
    The Allnighter (1-May-1987)
    Stony Island (17-Nov-1978)

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