The Go-Go’s are an all-female American rock band formed in 1978. They made history as the first all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to top the Billboard album charts.
The Go-Go's rose to fame during the early 1980s. Their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, is considered one of the "cornerstone albums of (US) new wave" (Allmusic), breaking barriers and paving the way for a host of other new American acts. When the album was released, it steadily climbed the Billboard 200 chart, ultimately reaching number one, where it remained for six consecutive weeks. The LP sold in excess of three million copies and reached triple platinum status, making it one of the most successful debut albums ever. The Go-Go's have sold more than seven million albums.
History[edit source | edit]Edit
Original incarnation (1978–1980)[edit source | edit]Edit
They were formed as a punk band and had roots in the L.A. punk community; they shared a rehearsal space with X, and Carlisle (under the name "Dottie Danger") had briefly been a member of punk-rock band The Germs. Due to a bout of mononucleosis, she left The Germs before playing a gig.
The band started out playing at seminal punk rock venues such as The Masque and the Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles. Charlotte Caffey (lead guitar, keyboards) was added later in 1978, and in the summer of 1979, Gina Schock replaced Bello on drums. With these line-up changes, the group began moving towards their now more-familiar power pop sound.
During late 1979, the band recorded a five-song demo at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, and in 1980 supported the British ska revival group Madness in both Los Angeles and England. The Go-Go’s subsequently spent half of 1980 touring England, earning a sizable following and releasing the demo version of "We Got the Beat" on Stiff Records, which became a minor UK hit.Cover image from the 1982 hit single"We Got the Beat"
During December 1980, original bassist Margot Olavarria fell ill with hepatitis A and was replaced with Kathy Valentine, who had played guitar in bands such as Girlschooland the Textones. Valentine had not previously played bass guitar. Carlisle also relates in her autobiography, Lips Unsealed, that, according to the band's view, another reason for Olavarria's dismissal from the Go-Go's was that she was frequently missing rehearsals, due largely to her dissatisfaction with the band's move away from hardcore punk and toward pop. In late 1982, Olavarria sued the remaining members of the band for wrongfully throwing her out. The suit was settled in 1984. Olavarria later worked with Martin Atkins and Brian Grillo in a band called Brian Brain.
Career peak (1981–1983)[edit source | edit]Edit
The Go-Go's signed to I.R.S. Records in April 1981. Their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, was a surprise hit; it topped the U.S. charts for six weeks in 1982 and eventually received a triple platinum certification. The album was also a success outside the U.S. charting at No. 2 in Canada, where it received a platinum certification, and No. 27 in Australia. In 2003, the album was ranked number 413 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. "Our Lips Are Sealed" and a new version of "We Got the Beat" were extremely popular singles in North America in early 1982. In this period the Go-Go's became America's sweethearts and started building a fan base.Cover of the 1982 album Vacation.
The follow-up album Vacation received mixed reviews and sold far less than Beauty and the Beat. However, the album was certified Gold in the U.S. and spawned another top 10 US hit with the title track. Other singles released from the album were "Get Up and Go" and "This Old Feeling", neither of which made it into the Top 40. In 1983 Vacation was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Packaging. During the album's promotion the group was forced to go on hiatus when Schock underwent surgery for a congenital heart defect.
Talk Show and Break Up[edit source | edit]Edit
In 1984 the group returned with the Martin Rushent produced album Talk Show. The album tracks "Head over Heels" and "Turn to You" were both Top 40 hits in the US. Despite the favorable critiques, the album sold far less than the previous two, not reaching the top 10 and not receiving any certification.
Personality conflicts and creative differences within the group were also taking a toll, as were drug addiction problems for some band members. Jane Wiedlin announced her departure from the group in October 1984. The band sought a replacement for Wiedlin, and finally selected Paula Jean Brown (of Giant Sand) as their new bassist, with Valentine moving to rhythm guitar. This line-up debuted at the 1985 Rock in Rio festival, playing two shows, but Carlisle and Caffey soon realized their hearts were no longer in the group and decided to disband the Go-Go's in May 1985.
Reunions[edit source | edit]Edit
In 1990, the Go-Go's classic line-up (Caffey, Carlisle, Schock, Valentine and Wiedlin) reunited to play a benefit concert for the California Environmental Protection Act, a 1990 ballot initiative. This led to more show dates later that year. The band also entered the studio with producer David Z. to re-record a cover of "Cool Jerk" for a greatest hits compilation.
In 1994, the same line-up got together again to release the 2-disc retrospective Return to the Valley of The Go-Go's, which featured three new recordings. The single "The Whole World Lost Its Head" peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Modern Rock charts and 'bubbled under' on the US charts at No. 108, but became the band's first and only Top 40 hit in the UK, peaking at No. 29. The band toured again to promote the release; ex-Bangle Vicki Peterson stood in on several dates for Caffey, who was pregnant.
In 1997, Schock sued the other members of the group, claiming that she had not been properly paid for her contributions since 1986 and that a songwriting agreement with Caffey had been breached. The suit was resolved by 1999 when the band reunited for a brief tour  and they finally began to resolve their personal differences.
In 2001, the band (still with the "classic" line-up) released an album of new material, God Bless The Go-Go's. Green Day's lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong co-wrote the only released single "Unforgiven" which peaked at No. 22 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart. The album was well received by critics, and peaked at number No. 57 in the Billboard 200 chart.
Also in 2001, the Go-Go's, along with artists Elton John, Billy Joel, David Crosby, and Paul Simon, performed at the concert "An All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson" at Radio City Music Hall, hosted by the TNT network.
The Go-Go's have toured regularly since 1999. In February 2010, Carlisle announced that the 2010 tour would be billed as the Farewell tour, but this tour was cancelled when Jane Wiedlin injured her knee, requiring surgery and up to a year of recovery time.
Since 2010, the idea of a farewell tour seems to have been abandoned, as the Go-Go's have toured every year since with no indication that they have plans to quit. In 2011 the Go-Go's announced the Ladies Gone Wild tour to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the release of Beauty and the Beat. They subsequently toured the US in 2012, and have recently announced a series of tour dates for 2013, including several double-bills with The B-52's.
On March 8, 2013, the group's official website said "irreconcilable differences" had led to the departure of bassist Kathy Valentine. On May 24, Valentine sued her former bandmates for "breach of fiduciary duty and abuse of control...in an attempt to deprive [her] of her position and interest in the group, including her right to receive her full one-fifth, 20% share of the benefits and revenues generated by the group substantial reputation, fame, and goodwill."Valentine's lawsuit quotes from email she said she received from Carlisle in January 2013:
We have decided, for a variety of reasons, including our musical differences with you and the disparaging comments you have made about the band in your Twitter Memoir, that we no longer wish to work with you. Although we are parting ways, we would like to do so amicably. In that regard, we would appreciate it if you would refrain from disparaging the band in any interviews, books, and social media, including Twitter and Facebook, so that we do not have to pursue this legally with you.
Solo careers[edit source | edit]Edit
- Belinda Carlisle became the most commercially successful solo artist of the band's alumni, scoring a string of mainstream pop singles in the mid and late '80s, including the No. 3 US hit "Mad About You" (co-written by Paula Jean Brown) and the number-one single "Heaven Is a Place on Earth". In the UK and Europe, Carlisle became even more successful, continuing to score top-10 hits through the mid '90s. In August 2001, Carlisle appeared in a nude layout, including a cover photo, in that month's issue of Playboy magazine. In 2007, she released a French-language album entitled Voila. She also appeared as a judge on the MTV show Rock the Cradle and toured during the summer of 2008 as part of the Regeneration Tour with The Human League, A Flock of Seagulls, ABC and Naked Eyes. Carlisle wrote a memoir, "Lips Unsealed", that was published in June 2010.
- Jane Wiedlin released several solo albums including Fur, which featured a successful single, "Rush Hour". Wiedlin also took acting roles in movies such as Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Clue, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, as well as doing cartoon voiceovers and a 2005 appearance on the VH1 show Surreal Life. In 1995, Wiedlin formed a band called froSTed (the capital ST paid homage to Star Trek), which released an album, Cold, before disbanding in 1998. In 2000, Wiedlin started her own label, Painful Discs, to release her solo CD Kissproof World. She has also become a legally ordained wedding officiant who performs ceremonies as "Reverend Sister Go-Go".
- Charlotte Caffey worked as a songwriter and session musician for Carlisle, and then in 1988 formed a band called The Graces that released the album Perfect View. After the Graces disbanded, she briefly formed a group called Astrid's Mother. Caffey and Wiedlin performed several shows in 1997 as Twisted and Jaded, at which they played acoustic versions of Go-Go's songs and debuted new material they had written. They also co-wrote "But for the Grace of God" (2000) for Keith Urban, which was their first number-one single on the charts. Together with Anna Waronker, Caffey co-wrote "Ordinary Girl", the theme song to the television series "Clueless" (61 episodes, 1996–1999).
- Gina Schock released a self-titled album in 1988 with her band House of Schock, and she later formed the short-lived group K-Five. Gina Schock co-wrote the title track for Miley Cyrus's sophomore CD,Breakout, which debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 Charts in the summer of 2008. Schock also co-wrote several tracks on the 2009 debut album Kiss & Tell by Selena Gomez & the Scene. Selena Gomez and Cyrus are both stars on the Disney Channel.
- Kathy Valentine returned to her blues-rock roots playing lead guitar with a band called the BlueBonnets, which morphed into the Delphines with Dominique Davalos on lead vocals and bass. The Delphines released two CDs, The Delphines (1996) and Cosmic Speed (2001). Gina Schock also joined the Delphines as drummer for a brief period. Valentine released a debut solo CD, titled Light Years, in September 2005. In 2006 she relocated to Austin, Texas and produced a local female trio, Adrian and the Sickness, whose CD "BFD" came out in 2009. Valentine reformed the BlueBonnets and continues production work in her home studio.
Current projects[edit source | edit]Edit
Jane Wiedlin is at work on a new solo album, and a comic book based on herself titled "Lady Robotika". Belinda Carlisle appeared on Dancing with the Stars on ABC in 2009. She recently starred in London's West End production of the musical Hairspray. Charlotte Caffey along with Anna Waronker wrote the music for the rock opera Lovelace: A Rock Opera based on the life of infamous porn star, Linda Lovelace. The opera premiered in Los Angeles in October 2008. Kathy Valentine produced a new Blue Bonnets album "Boom Boom Boom Boom," released June 2010. The group was originally slated to begin their "Happily Ever After" summer farewell tour, which was scheduled to kick off July 7 at Lilith Fair San Diego, and conclude in Austin, TX on July 27. However, it was cancelled due to Jane Wiedlin injuring her knee after a 20-foot (6.1 m) fall while hiking near her home in Northern California. They re-scheduled their tour for the following year, calling it the "Ladies Gone Wild" Tour, and on August 11, 2011 the band received the 2,444th star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame located at the site of where small punk rock club "The Masque" used to stand. At this location, the band would rehearse and play their first live show.
Discography[edit source | edit]Edit
- Beauty and the Beat (1981)
- Vacation (1982)
- Talk Show (1984)
- Return to the Valley of the Go-Go's (1994)
- God Bless The Go-Go's (2001)
Videos[edit source | edit]Edit
- Totally Go-Go's – live 12/1981 (1982)
- Wild at the Greek – live concert (1984)
- Prime Time – music video compilation (1985)
- Live in Central Park – live concert (2001)