The Go-Go's

Biography

The Go-Go’s are an all-female American rock band formed in 1978. The Go-Go's initially consisted of Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitar, vocals), Margot Olavarria (bass), and Elissa Bello (drums). 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 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 U.K. hit.

During December 1980, original bassist Margot Olaverria fell ill and was replaced by Kathy Valentine who had played guitar in bands such as Girlschool and the Textones. Valentine had not previously played bass guitar.

The Go-Go's signed to I.R.S. Records in April 1981. Their debut album, “Beauty and the Beat,” was a surprise hit, topping the Billboard 200 Albums chart for six weeks in 1982 and eventually received a triple platinum certification. “Our Lips Are Sealed” and a new version of “We Got the Beat” were extremely popular singles in North America in early 1982. In 1982 the group was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist.

The follow-up album, “Vacation,” received mixed reviews and sold far less than the “Beauty and the Beat.” However, the album reached #10 on the Billboard 200 and was certified gold in the U.S., spawning another Top 10 hit with the title track. Other singles released from the album were “Get Up and Go” and “He's So Strange,” neither of which made it into the Top 40. In 1983, “Vacation” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Packaging.

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 U.S. 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. 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.

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 two-disc retrospective, “Return to the Valley of The Go-Go's,” which featured three new recordings.

In 2001, the band 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, and peaked at #57 on the Billboard 200 chart.

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