What's the best way to keep a group from crumbling when the lead singer decides to split? For Prince, the answer was simply to find a replacement.

And so, after Vanity (Denise Katrina Matthews) bailed on group that bore her name, Vanity 6, and her role in the Purple Rain moviePrince found model-actress Patricia Kotero, re-christened her with her middle name (Apollonia) and gave her Matthews' place in both projects.

On Oct. 1, 1984, Apollonia 6 released their first and only album, a self-titled record that featured a short seven tracks, including the lead single, "Sex Shooter." The song had come out in late August, after the public had witnessed the group performing it in a particularly memorable scene in Purple Rain, where Kotero starred as Prince's love interest.

Despite the high profile in the blockbuster, "Sex Shooter" underperformed on the Hot 100, only reaching No. 85, although it hit No. 7 on both the Dance and R&B charts. The album also produced another single, "Blue Limousine" in March 1985, though it failed to chart.

Like Vanity 6's debut, Apollonia 6 was short and sexy, and entirely written and produced by Prince under his alias, The Starr Company, although he credited Apollonia 6, Sheila E. and members of the Revolution on various tracks. Several of the songs, including "Sex Shooter," had been intended for Vanity 6's sophomore album, with Prince subsequently replacing Matthews' vocals with Kotero's.

However, the record only performed modestly on the charts, peaking at No. 62 on the Billboard 200 and No. 24 on its Soul LPs chart. This was likely in part because Apollonia 6, which also featured Brenda Bennett and Susan Moonsie (both of whom had been in Vanity 6), did not tour to support the project. Previous plans to shoot a video for every song on the album were also shelved, with only "Sex Shooter," "Blue Limousine" and "Ooo She Wa Wa" getting video treatment.

But maybe more significantly, Apollonia had made it clear that she was not interested in being part of the band longterm. In spite of the rumors following Purple Rain, she and Prince weren't romantically linked, and she says she was never afraid to stand up to him when it came to her career, which he appreciated.

“Prince and I never dated — we’re family, we were friends,” she said in 2019. “There’s a different type of respect that he had for me. He had that for me for 33 years. We had our difficulties, and I always stood up to him. I believe that’s what he respected, that I wasn’t a pushover. I said no to him for a lot of reasons professionally.”

By 1985, Apollonia 6 had disbanded, with Apollonia continuing her acting and singing careers independent of Prince, although Prince did leave her and Apollonia 6 with the trademark to their name. That same year, she had a lengthy guest spot on Falcon Crest, and in 1988, released her solo album, Apollonia, which produced three singles.

Following Prince's untimely death in 2016, Apollonia shared an open letter to her longtime friend on Facebook, in which she indicated that there were plans for them to make more music, as well as for an Apollonia 6 reunion of some sort. She later shared that there were plans to follow-up his memoir, The Beautiful One, with a book of her own.

"You told me of all your plans. Your plans for me. For A6. I was so excited because you were going to bring me back to Paisley Park to see the finished Purple Rain Room with our images in murals painted on the walls," she wrote. "You wanted to celebrate with A6 and present to us our platinum albums."

 

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