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Profile of All-Female New Wave Band the Go-Go's

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Profile of All-Female New Wave Band the Go-Go's Album Cover Image Courtesy of IRS Records

Formed:

1978 in Los Angeles, California

Core Band Members:

  • Belinda Carlisle (born August 17, 1958 in Hollywood, California) – Lead vocals
  • Jane Wiedlin (born Jane Marie Genevieve Wiedlin on May 20, 1958 in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin) – Rhythm guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals
  • Charlotte Caffey (born Charlotte Irene Caffey on October 21, 1953 in Santa Monica, California) – Lead guitar, backing vocals)
  • Kathy Valentine (born January 7, 1959 in Austin, Texas) – Bass guitar, backing vocals
  • Gina Schock (born Regina Ann Schock on August 31, 1957 in Baltimore, Maryland) – Drums, backing vocals

The Go-Go's - Punk Rock Origins:

Emerging just as the Los Angeles punk rock scene began to make noise on more than a regional level but before the form was widely co-opted into the more commercially palatable new wave, the Go-Go's were indeed a punk band initially. Founding members Carlisle, Wiedlin and Caffey started off with little experience as musicians, growing a raw sound all their own that built the early lineup a cult following as the band toured England at the turn of the decade. By early 1981, the group finally secured a contract with IRS Records, setting the stage for the Go-Go's transition from punk to new wave to pure pop.

A Classic Debut Forms Female Rock Icons:

As one of the first and only all-female groups of the first quarter-century of rock and roll to function as a self-sufficient unit independent from male direction or management, the Go-Go's had already blazed a significant trail before their first record came out. Still, 1981s Beauty and the Beat was a revelation, a collection of tight pop/rock songs that may not have retained too much of a punk sound but surely reflected melodic energy and playful imagination aplenty. Best-known for the hits "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got the Beat," the album still brims with its wealth of high-quality deep cuts.

Slow Decline & Typical Breakup:

The Go-Go's released two more albums before petering out in 1985, and although both Vacation and Talk Show sold very well and produced some memorable hit singles ("Vacation" and "Head Over Heels"), the band suffered a relatively swift dissolution. A combination of internal tensions, escalating substance abuse and creative stagnation had taken its toll on one of the most promising groups of the '80s. Carlisle quickly embarked on a very successful solo career, while Wiedlin, though she was the first to leave, had considerably less of an impact on her own.

Go-Go’s Reunions & Reconciliations:


Even though the quintet seemed to have considerable rifts to repair, hints of reformation began to emerge by 1990, when the group played an environmental benefit and then more shows later in the year. In 1994, the Go-Go's released the obligatory greatest hits compilation and toured again, a move that gradually led to a 2001 album of all-new material, God Bless the Go-Go's. Since then the band has stayed together rather consistently, with additional projects aplenty nearly 30 years after the group burst onto the pop music scene.

Interesting Facts & Trivia:

  • With Beauty and the Beat, the Go-Go's became the first all-female rock band that wrote its own songs and played its own instruments to earn a No. 1 pop album.
  • Carlisle spent a very brief period as drummer for the seminal L.A. punk band the Germs, an association that certainly serves to support the early punk credibility of the Go-Go's.
  • The band's hit single "Our Lips Are Sealed" was cowritten by Wiedlin with Terry Hall, a member of the Specials and Fun Boy Three. The song grew out of the pair's brief romantic relationship.
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