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The Go-Go’s are an all-female American rock band formed in 1978. They made rock history as the first all-woman 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 new wave" (Allmusic), breaking barriers and paving the way for a host of other new American acts. In the beginning, they played primarily a pop-inflected form of the emerging punk sound, and later defined themselves with the distinct sound of 1980s rock music. The Go-Go’s had five U.S. Top 40 hits. Musical influences include the Ramones, the Shangri-Las, the Buzzcocks, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Blondie. During their career, the Go-Go's have sold more than seven million albums.


Original incarnation (1978–1980)

Formed in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker in 1978, the Go-Go's initially consisted of
Belinda Carlisle (vocals),
Jane Wiedlin (guitar, vocals),
Margot Olaverra (bass),
Elissa Bello (drums).

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 illness, she left The Germs before playing a gig.

The band started out playing at seminal punk rock venues such as The Masque and the Whiskey A Go Gomarker 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 5-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 Olaverra fell ill and was replaced with Kathy Valentine, who had played guitar in bands such as Girlschool and the Textones. (Valentine had no prior experience playing bass and learned in four days.)

Career peak (1981–1983)

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 double platinum certification. The album was also a success outside the U.S. charting at #2 in Canadamarker, where it received a platinum certification, and #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. The Go-Go's became America's sweethearts and started to have a cult following.

In 1982 the group was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

Cover of the 1982 album Vacation.
The follow-up album, Vacation, sold well (Gold certification in the U.S.), and spawned another top 10 US hit with the title track. However, the group was forced to go on hiatus when Schock underwent surgery for a congenital heart defect.

In 1983 Vacation LP was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Packaging.

Talk Show and temporary split

In 1984 the group returned with the Martin Rushent produced album Talk Show, but sales were less successful than their prior albums. Still, album tracks "Head over Heels" and "Turn to You" were both top 40 hits in the US.

Nevertheless, personality conflicts and creative differences 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 as their new bassist, with Valentine moving to lead 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.


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" only 'bubbled under' on the US charts at #108, but became the band's first and only top 40 hit in the UK, peaking at #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.

God Bless The Go-Go's

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". The album was well-received by critics, though sales were low and it only peaked at number #57 in the Billboard 200 chart. The group was also criticized by some Catholic groups for showing the group members posing as the Virgin Mary on the album's cover.

Also in 2001, the Go-Go's, along with artists Elton John, Billy Joel, David Crosby, Paul Simon, performed at the concert "An All-Star Tribute to Brian Wilson" at Radio City Music Hallmarker, hosted by the TNT network.

The Go-Go's have toured regularly since 1999, though they have no plans to release any new material. In 2008, in an interview with "Stuck in the 80's", Wiedlin said: "We have no set plans at the moment, and every year it seems to get a little more complicated trying to get together to do stuff. We are now living in FIVE different places, which makes it a real challenge to get together. Still, we love to make music, so anything could happen."

Solo careers

  • Belinda Carlisle became the most commercially successful solo artist of the band's alumnae, scoring a string of mainstream pop singles in the mid and late '80s, including the #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.

  • 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.

  • 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 #1 on the US Billboard 200 Charts in the summer of 2008.

  • Kathy Valentine returned to her blues-rock roots playing lead guitar with a band called the Blue Bonnets, 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. Valentine released a debut solo CD, titled Light Years, in September 2005.

Current projects

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 is currently starring in London's West End production of the musical "Hairspray" through January 2010. 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. "Lovelace" premiered in Los Angelesmarker in October 2008.




  • Totally Go-Go's - live 12/1981 (1982)
  • Wild at the Greek - live concert (1984)
  • Prime Time - music video compilation (1985)
  • Live at Central Park - live concert (2001)

See also


External links

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