The Go-Go's Biography

This all-female band, originally called the Misfits, was formed in California, USA, in 1978 by Belinda Carlisle (17 August 1958, Hollywood, California, USA; lead vocals) and Jane Wiedlin (b. 20 May 1958, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, USA; rhythm guitar/vocals). They were joined by Charlotte Caffey (b. 21 October 1953, Santa Monica, California, USA; lead guitar/keyboards), Elissa Bello (drums) and Margot Olaverra (bass). Inspired by the new wave scene, the Go-Go’s performed bright, infectious harmony pop songs and were initially signed to the UK independent label Stiff Records and to Miles Copeland’s I.R.S. Records in the USA, where they would enjoy practically all their success. By the time of the release of debut album Beauty And The Beat, Olaverra was replaced by Kathy Valentine (b. 7 January 1959; ex-Textone) and Bello by Gina Schock (b. 31 August 1957). Produced by Rob Freeman and Richard Gottehrer, who had earlier worked with a long line of female singers in the 60s, the sprightly pop qualities of Beauty And The Beat drew comparisons with Blondie, with whom Gottehrer and Freeman had also worked. The album, which stayed at the US number 1 spot for 6 weeks in 1981, included ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ (US Top 20), which was co-written by Wiedlin with Terry Hall of the Fun Boy Three, and ‘We Got The Beat’, which gave the band a US number 2 hit the following year. The second album provided a further US Top 10 hit with the title track, but the band was by now showing signs of burnout. Despite their ‘safe’ image, it later transpired that the Go-Go’s were more than able to give the average all-male outfit a run for their money when it came to on-the-road excesses, which eventually took their toll. Talk Show reached the US Top 20, as did the most successful single culled from the set, ‘Head Over Heels’ (1984).

With the break-up of the band in 1985, Belinda Carlisle subsequently pursued a successful solo career with assistance from Charlotte Caffey, who, for a time, appeared in her backing group. Caffey later formed the Graces with Meredith Brooks and Gia Campbell and recorded for A&M Records, releasing Perfect View in 1989, before moving into soundtrack work (Clueless). Schock formed the short-lived House Of Shock, releasing a self-titled album for Capitol Records in 1988. As well as recording as a solo artist, Wiedlin attempted to break into acting with a few minor movie roles. Galvanized by her, the Go-Go’s re-formed briefly in 1990 for a benefit for the anti-fur trade organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

A fuller reunion took place in 1994 for well-paid shows in Las Vegas, prompted by which I.R.S. issued Return To The Valley Of The Go-Go’s, a compilation of the band’s best-known moments with the addition of two new tracks. Carlisle and Wiedlin then resumed their solo careers, whilst Valentine and Schock formed the Delphines. Another reunion took place in summer 2000 for a US tour alongside the B-52’s, with a new album released in May 2001.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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