PMRC's 'Filthy 15': Where Are They Now?

Three decades after W.A.S.P., Vanity, Judas Priest, Prince, Madonna and others shocked Tipper Gore and her committee, Rolling Stone takes a critical look at 1985's worst of the worst

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Sheena Easton,
Sheena Easton, circa mid-Eighties. Richard E. Aaron/Redfern/Getty12/15

Sheena Easton, "Sugar Walls"

Proposed PMRC Rating: Profane or sexually explicit

Explicit Lyrics: "Blood races to your private spots/Lets me know there's a fire ... /Come spend the night inside my sugar walls"

Sheena Easton Then: In her early twenties, Easton scored a Number One hit with her second single, the catchy, middle-of-the-road pop tune "Morning Train (Nine to Five)," and continued to notch adult-contemporary hits like "For Your Eyes Only," "You Could Have Been With Me" and her duet with Kenny Rogers, "We've Got Tonight." But on her 1984 album, A Private Heaven, she adopted a sexier look and sang a song by an admittedly sex-obsessed songwriter, Prince. The song, "Sugar Walls," for which Prince was credited as Alexander Nevermind, found her alluding to sexual arousal and earning a Top 10 single.

What She Said Then: "You think of rock & roll, it's just from the heart ... and if you feel sexy and raw and raunchy, be you male or female, doing any particular performance or song, then that's what you do," Easton said in 1985. "We are not embarrassed to be sexy when we want to be. Men have never had to apologize for being sexy. Artists are just saying, 'Hey, lighten up. Get off our case. This is what art's all about, it's being free. And if you don't like it, then tune in to something else. Go watch the news and watch violence if you don't like sexuality.'"

After the PMRC: Despite its ostensibly suggestive title, her Nile Rodgers–produced 1985 album, Do You, found Easton returning to safer territory, though she'd dabble in R&B toward the end of the decade. She also sang Prince-composed tunes again with 1987's "Eternity" and 1988's "101," earning a Number Two dance track but no notoriety for the latter track; Prince also invited her to share vocal duties on his 1987 hit "U Got the Look." Her last big hit was 1988's dancey "The Lover in Me," which was co-written in part by L.A. Reid and Babyface. Easton's most recent LP, Fabulous, came out in 2000, though she continues to perform live. For one upcoming concert, she'll be singing James Bond hits (hers was "For Your Eyes Only") with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

What She Says Now: "My feelings were then, and remain now, that every parent has the right to filter the content that their children are exposed to," Easton told Billboard earlier this year. "If [parents] felt that 'Sugar Walls' was inappropriate for their kids to listen to, they were well within their rights to make that clear. Adults, on the other hand, are free to choose what they want. It did not offend me that some people didn't want their kids listening to 'Sugar Walls' at all. I believe the track found its intended audience."

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