Craig Allen’s Fun Facts: “Walk Like An Egyptian” by Bangles
The Bangles usually wrote their own songs, but that's not the case with "Walk Like An Egyptian."
It is said that the Bangles were evenly split as to whether the song would be a hit or not!
First, a little history about this all-girl band!
Susanna Hoffs (vocals/guitars), and sisters Vicki (guitars/vocals) and Debi Peterson (vocals/drums), formed the "The Bangs" in Los Angeles in December 1980.
This trio would become a part of the city's "Paisley Underground" scene, featuring bands that played a mix of 60's-influenced rock.
By 1982, Annette Zilinskas (vocals/bass) joined the band.
While recording an EP (featuring "The Real World") in 1982, a legal issue forced "The Bangs" to quickly change their name to "Bangles."
Michael Steele joined the Bangles in 1983, as Zilinskas departed for a solo project.
1984 brought the Bangles, and their "power pop" sound some attention, with the release of the full-length album "All Over The Place."
The Bangles would be the opening act on Cyndi Lauper's "Fun Tour."
The album, including "Going Down To Liverpool," brought the women to the attention of Prince...
...who gave them "Manic Monday" (#2/1986), one of Jersey's Greatest Hits!
And, this brings us to "Walk Like An Egyptian!"
As I said at the top of this article, most of the Bangles songs were penned by band members...but not this one...the Bangles first #1 hit!
"Walk Like An Egyptian" was written by a fan...songwriter Liam Sternberg.
He was inspired to write this soon-to-be-hit...while on a ferry boat!
He was struck by watching people...try to keep their balance! He says the way they held their arms out, and stumbled around...made it look like they were doing Egyptian movements. And, if the boat moved suddenly, they would all topple over!
"Walk Like An Egyptian" was offered to Toni Basil ("Mickey, #1/1982), but she turned it down.
The Bangles needed one more song for their "Different Light" album, so they grabbed it.
Again, the ladies were evenly divided on whether the song would be a hit, or a failure...and it is said that the Bangles felt (initially) that this pop song compromised their "rock pedigree."
All of the Bangles, except drummer Debi Peterson, sang a verse...
Originally, Peterson was supposed to sing the whole song, but producer David Kahne had each Bangle audition the lyrics to decide who would sing what verse!
Going to #1 for four weeks in late 1986/early 1987, "Walk Like An Egyptian" would be the Bangles' biggest hit...and it put them firmly in the music mainstream!
"Walk Like An Egyptian" brought the band lots of new fans...
...many were female, and young! Michael Steele saying at that time: "When I go out now, it is usually girls who recognize me."
The video ran in heavy rotation...and made the Bangles...superstars.
But, the Bangles weren't yet sold on the value of video...Debi Peterson saying in 1985: "When you listen to a record, you can imagine what they look like and what they where doing when they recorded, but when you see the video, it ruins it."
Susanna Hoffs added: "I wish they could be more like movies, I wish they could somehow fulfill you, bring you through an experience."
I'm betting that the Bangles' feelings have changed over the years.
Recently, I was going through a box of my "stuff," and came across this issue of "People" magazine from 1986, when the "Different Light" album hit record store shelves.
And, it seems that there were a few naysayers at the time:
"People" music critic David Hiltbrand called the song (and album) "dithering drivel." While he liked their debut album "All Over The Place," the critic stated: "the four women really flounder in their follow-up." Further, "lead guitarist Vicki Peterson couldn't even handle Jeff Beck's tuning fork." OUCH.
Obviously, we the record-buying public disagreed with David Hiltbrand....
"Billboard Magazine" named "Walk Like An Egyptian" the #1 song of 1987....after all, it held on to the #1 spot for 4 weeks (knocked off by Gregory Abbott, "Shake You Down").
What happened after Walk Like An Egyptian?
"Walking Down Your Street," the followup single, would go to #11 later in 1987.
There would start to be some friction among the ladies, as the music industry media began singling out Susanna Hoffs as the group leader...the result Columbia Records releasing (mostly) singles on which Hoffs sings lead. In actuality, singing and writing songs was evenly distributed between Bangles members.
In 1988, a remake of Simon & Garfunkel's "A Hazy Shade Of Winter" (from the film "Less Than Zero") went to #2 on the Hot 100 chart.
1988 also brought the album "Everything," with the singles "In Your Room" (#5/1989) and the ballad "Eternal Flame" (#1/1989).
At this point, the working relationships between the members of the Bangles had completely broken down...with Susanna Hoffs moving on to a (brief) solo career, and each of the ladies joining other bands, and working on separate projects.
In fact, Vicki Peterson would tour as a fill-in member of the "Go-Go's."
But, as often is the case...the end...isn't always the end...in Rock 'N' Roll.
The Bangles started drifting back together in 1998...and officially re-formed to record "Get The Girl" for "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me."
A tour followed in 2000...
...and the Bangles were inducted into the "Vocal Group Hall Of Fame."
Their subsequent studio album "Doll Revolution" did well in Germany. The English speaking/singing world didn't seem to notice.
In 2004, Paul McCartney presented the Bangles with "Honorary Rock 'N' Roll Diplomas" from his "Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts."
Michael Steele would leave the band in 2005, due to "artistic disputes" over touring and recording. Replacement bassist Abby Travis would also soon depart...
The Bangles would return to the recording studio in 2009.
They toured in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
The Bangles performed at the "Whiskey A Go Go" in January 2014, as part of the Whiskey's 50th Anniversary. And, since then, as seen above.
In January 2016, the Bangles played at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California...and it was notable as it was the first reunion with original bassist Annette Zilinskas.
They hadn't played together since 1983.
The band returned to the stage with Annette in 2018...and released 3 new songs on a multi-band compilation album, called "3x4"
What's NEW in "Bangelonia?"
Check out the official Bangles site here.
And then..."Walk Like An Egyptian."
I won't embarrass you by...watching.