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Susanna Hoffs is best-known as the lead singer and guitarist with the well-known pop group the Bangles, but Hoffs has also enjoyed an impressive career as a solo artist and a collaborator with a wide range of artists. Hoffs was born in Newport Beach, California on January 17, 1959; her father, Joshua Hoffs, was a physician, while her mother, Tamar Simon Hoffs, was a screenwriter and film director. Susanna was the second of three children, and she and her siblings learned to play guitar from their uncle, a folk musician who also built dulcimers. Hoffs grew up on classic AM radio pop and literate, folk-influenced artists such as Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt; she enjoyed singing with family and friends, but was more interested in pursuing acting or dance as a career (she played a small role in the 1978 film Stony Island, an acclaimed independent feature co-written by her mother) until she enrolled as a ballet student at UC Berkeley.
After her big brother passed along albums by the Ramones, Blondie, and Talking Heads, and Susanna saw Patti Smith perform in San Francisco, she became a quick convert to the new wave, and formed an informal band with her brother and David Roback, a friend from the neighborhood who played guitar. While the trio proved short-lived, Hoffs and Roback, who were a couple for a while, recorded some living-room demos that emboldened her to form a band. (Echoes of these unreleased recordings can be heard on the 1984 album Rainy Day, coordinated by Roback after he became leader of the acclaimed Paisley Underground band Rain Parade; Hoffs contributes striking lead vocals to versions of the Velvet Underground's "I'll Be Your Mirror" and Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It with Mine.")
Looking for like-minded musicians, Hoffs answered an ad in an L.A. weekly newspaper, The Recycler, in late 1980 and met guitarist Vicki Peterson and her sister Debbi Peterson, who played drums; the three shared a fondness for '60s-influened pop/rock and the Petersons were impressed with Hoffs' vocal abilities. The three formed a band called the Colours that would quickly evolve into the Bangs, and became the Bangles after a threat of legal action from another group called the Bangs. The Bangles would become bone fide superstars in the '80s, scoring two multi-platinum albums (1986's Different Light and 1988's Everything) and a handful of hit singles (including "Manic Monday," "Walk Like an Egyptian," and "Eternal Flame"), but as their fame rose, so did tensions within the group, compounded by the media's focus on Hoffs as the "star" of the act. Though all four members wrote and sang, Hoffs received the lion's share of the press as the principle lead vocalist, and when she was cast in The Allnighter, a comedy written and directed by Tamar Simon Hoffs, Susanna was made the focus of the film's advertising and publicity campaign, which unwittingly helped upset the balance of the band. By the end of 1989, the Bangles broke up.
In 1991, Hoffs released her debut solo album, When You're a Boy (the title comes from the David Bowie tune "Boys Keep Swinging," which Hoffs covered), but while the song "My Side o the Bed" fared well as a single and received steady MTV play, the album was a commercial and critical disappointment, and Hoffs subsequently took several years off to focus on her personal life. In 1993, Hoffs married film director Jay Roach, and they welcomed their first child two years later. In 1996, Hoffs' self-titled sophomore album was released to enthusiastic reviews, though once again it failed to sell as well as expected. In 1997, she teamed up with Matthew Sweet, Christopher Ward, and Mike Meyers to form Ming Tea, a fictive British rock band who appeared in Jay Roach's comedy Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, and they recorded a tune for the film's soundtrack, "BBC." Ming Tea gained something of a cult following after Austin Powers became a hit, and they also appeared in the film's two sequels.
In addition to covering "The Look of Love" and "What's It All About, Alfie" for the Powers' films, Hoffs reunited the Bangles to record the song "Get the Girl" for 1999's Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me; the group subsequently set out on tour, and returned to the studio to record a new album, 2003's Doll Revolution. (The title came from Elvis Costello's song "Tear Off Your Own Head [It's a Doll Revolution]," and Costello apparently approved of Hoffs' vocal on their cover, inviting her to sing it at a concert released on his 2011 live album Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!)
In 2006, Hoffs and her Ming Tea cohort Matthew Sweet teamed up to record a duet album, Under the Covers, Vol. 1, in which they interpreted 15 60s pop classics. The album earned rave reviews, and in 2009 the pair returned with Under the Covers, Vol. 2, which focused on songs of the '70s. Sweet and Hoffs also toured together as Sid n' Susie, the name being a play on Sweet's Ming Tea character name, Sid Belvedere. (Hoffs' Ming Tea name was the far more British Gillian Shagwell.) Sweet and Hoffs crossed paths in the studio again when he was tapped to produce a new Bangles album in 2011, Sweetheart of the Sun. In 2012, Hoffs released her third solo album, Someday, a collection dominated by songs she wrote in collaboration with guitarist and tunesmith Andrew Brassell. The following year, Hoffs re-teamed with Sweet for another collection of covers; for Under the Covers, Vol. 3, the duo tackled pop songs from the '80s.
Susanna Lee Hoffs (born January 17, 1959) is an American vocalist, guitarist and actress. She is best known as a member of The Bangles.
Hoffs was born on the Westside of Los Angeles, California, to a Jewish family. She is the daughter of Tamar Ruth (Simon) and Joshua Allen Hoffs, a psychoanalyst. Her mother played Beatles music for Hoffs when she was a child, and she began playing the guitar in her teens. Hoffs attended Palisades High School in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, graduating in 1976. While in college she worked as a production assistant and made her acting debut in the 1978 film Stony Island.
In 1980, Hoffs graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor degree in Art. When she entered Berkeley she was a fan of classic rock bands that played in large stadiums. While a student at Berkeley, she attended the final Sex Pistols show at Winterland and a Patti Smith concert. Exposure to punk rock changed her career goal from dancer to musician in a band. She eventually joined Vicki Peterson and Debbi Peterson in what would later become the pop music group The Bangles.Teicholz, Tom (2006). "Susanna Hoffs walks like a rockstar/mom". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved August 15, 2010. "TAMAR SIMON ENGAGED; She Is Fiancee of Joshua A. Hoffs, A Medical Student". The New York Times. February 28, 1957. "Bangle still follows mom's directions". The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington). May 15, 1987. Retrieved June 30, 2014. "Stony Island Movie". Retrieved October 22, 2012. Ragogna, Mike (September 26, 2011). "Sweetheart Of The Sun & Modern Art: Chatting With The Bangles' Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
Career with The Bangles
The Bangles' first recorded release was a self-titled EP in 1982 on the Faulty Products Label. The Bangles released their first full album All Over the Place in 1984 on Columbia Records. They had a moderate hit with the single "Hero Takes a Fall", but their commercial breakthrough came with the album Different Light in 1986, which produced the hit singles "Manic Monday" and "Walk Like an Egyptian".
In 1986, Hoffs co-wrote the song "I Need a Disguise" for the album Belinda for Belinda Carlisle, formerly of the all-girl group The Go-Go's.
With increasing fame, Hoffs also appeared on the covers of numerous magazines, and the Rickenbacker guitar company issued a Susanna Hoffs model of the 350, which she customized herself.
In 1987, Hoffs starred in the film The Allnighter, which was directed by her mother Tamar Simon Hoffs, and also featured Joan Cusack and Pam Grier. The film was critically panned, and failed at the box office. Hoffs later said: "It wasn't a great movie but the whole experience of it was great."
The Bangles released their third album Everything in 1988, with their biggest-selling single "Eternal Flame", which was co-written and sung by Hoffs. The Bangles disbanded in 1990.
In the late 1990s, Hoffs contacted the other members of The Bangles with the hope of reuniting. They recorded the single "Get the Girl" for the second Austin Powers movie in 1999. Subsequently, they announced their decision to reunite full-time in 2000. Their fourth album, Doll Revolution, was released in 2003.Hunt, Chris (1991). "Susanna Hoffs interview". Chrishunt.biz. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
Hoffs released a solo album, When You're a Boy, in 1991, which spawned a U.S Top 40 hit with "My Side of the Bed." In the UK the single landed at #44, for only 4 weeks on chart, and the album also landed decently in Europe. Hoffs recorded another album during 1993/1994, prior to leaving Columbia Records, but it went unreleased. In 1996, Hoffs released her second solo album, Susanna Hoffs. Although it received much praise in the media and yielded a minor US hit and a UK hit at #33 for 2 weeks with a cover of the Lightning Seeds single "All I Want", it still was not a big commercial success.
Hoffs recorded a cover of "The Look of Love" for the soundtrack of the first Austin Powers movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and a cover of the song "Alfie" for the soundtrack of the third Austin Powers in Goldmember.
Hoffs recorded a cover of the Oingo Boingo song "We Close Our Eyes" for the Buffy The Vampire Slayer soundtrack. She is also responsible for the song "Now and Then", from the 1995 film of the same name.
Hoffs also contributed a song to the film Red Roses and Petrol (written and directed by Tamar Simon Hoffs) titled "The Water is Wide." The song can be heard in the closing credits and is available on the film's soundtrack.
In February 2009, Hoffs appeared on stage at the Key Club in Los Angeles, singing with thenewno2, the "post-Bristol" psychedelic blues band led by Dhani Harrison.
In December 2011, Hoffs provided an original song for use in promoting Visit South Walton, the tourism promotion agency for Walton County, Florida (formerly identified as the Beaches of South Walton). The song, "This Is The Place", will be used in advertising and marketing the popular coastal area that comprises fifteen beach communities.
Hoffs self-released her third solo album of new material (the first since her 1996's self-titled album) called Someday via Vanguard Records on July 17, 2012. The set was produced by Mitchell Froom and is influenced by the music of the 1960s. American Songwriter gave Someday a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars and described it as "easily and undeniably Hoffs’ most definitive musical statement to date."
Hoffs is mentioned in "I'd Love to Kiss the Bangles" by The Saw Doctors. Robbie Fulks wrote about her in "That Bangle Girl," which appears on his album The Very Best of Robbie Fulks."Susanna Hoffs « Vanguard Records Publicity". Publicity.vanguardrecords.com. July 17, 2012. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
Mike Myers, Matthew Sweet, and Hoffs formed the faux British 1960s band Ming Tea after Myers' Saturday Night Live stint in the early 1990s. They all adopted pseudonyms for the band, with Hoffs using the name Jillian Shagwell and Myers creating Austin Powers. This group made a number of club and television performances and had a minor hit with the song "BBC". Myers' then wife Robin Ruzan encouraged him to write a film based on the character. The result was Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, directed by Hoffs' husband Jay Roach. Ming Tea performed in all three Austin Powers films."Mike Myers". Digital Hit. Digital Hit Entertainment/ Multiplex Theatre Properties Inc. 1997–2012. Retrieved July 29, 2012. Abbey, Cherie D.; Hillstrom, Kevin (2004). Biography Today Performing Artists. Omnigraphics. p. 101. ISBN 078080709X.
Sid n Susie
In 2006, Hoffs teamed up with fellow Ming Tea rocker Matthew Sweet; under the name "Sid n Susie," they recorded fifteen cover versions of classic rock songs from the 1960s and 1970s for an album titled Under the Covers, Vol. 1. The album was released in April 2006. On July 18, they appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien to promote the album and tour. The duo released another album Under the Covers, Vol. 2 on July 21, 2009, which included covers of songs by Fleetwood Mac, Carly Simon, Rod Stewart and others.
In 1993, Hoffs married Jay Roach, the director of the Austin Powers movies and Meet the Parents, and producer of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. She has two sons. Roach converted to Judaism when marrying Hoffs.
She is a vegetarian."No more manic Mondays". The Sun-Herald. September 5, 2005. Retrieved August 15, 2010. Cite error: The named reference jjournalref1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Vegetarian Celebrities".