The Go-Go’s preside over an amazing three-decade reign as high pop priestesses. The internationally-loved pop hitmakers helped cement the foundation of the early 80’s pop-rock sound without the aid of outside composers, session players or, most importantly, creative compromise. From their very first show, The Go-Go’s sang and played their own songs, offering five feisty role models for a generation of ready-to-rock girls and good, hooky fun for pop-loving guys.
Their story truly is a punk version of the American Dream. They came, they saw and they conquered the charts, the airwaves and, with their kicky kitsch appeal, pop culture in general. For a while, the band was virtually inescapable: TV guest shots, magazine covers, high-profile concert tours and movie offers turned Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock and Kathy Valentine into certified rock stars. Their sparking California pop appealed to an astonishingly wide cross-section of music fans.
Sure, before the Go-Go’s debuted in May of ’78, there were other all-female bands, but to a man (ahem, or in this case, woman) there was usually a seedy, cigar-chompin’ guy lurking just behind the curtain, pulling strings, writing songs and shaping the image as his gals danced on his string. But The Go-Go’s didn’t need a doctor in their house. No Phil Spector, Kim Fowley or Sonny Bono plotted their moves. It was their baby right from the start and they nursed the bouncing infant on a diet of non-stop nocturnal nourishment in dank clubs all across the city.
By all accounts, their first show was short, sweet — and very, very raw. They didn’t care, they were just having fun. But, just as lust can turn to love, their new-found hobby turned to dedication. Two months later, real musician Charlotte Caffey joined and their sound quickly improved. The unique mix of snotty punk discord blended with sweet pop melodies was presented with a freewheeling let’s have a party thrift-store chic attitude. The ensemble quickly cultivated a dedicated clique of fans and collected glowing notices in the notoriously fickle LA press.
As ’80 turned into ’81, Kathy Valentine joined and by April, the band was signed to upstart new wave haven IRS records. As summer arrived, so did Beauty And The Beat, hot on the heels of their debut U.S. single “Our Lips Are Sealed.” Summer turned to fall, and the world fell in love with the cute, bubbly and effervescent (and yes, they hate that description) Go-Go’s.
The double-platinum-awarded Beauty And The Beat reached number one and begat Vacation in ‘82 and Talk Show in ‘84 during the ladies’ charming reign of chart and radio smashes. And, like any truly classic rock band, their enduring hits including “Vacation,” “Head Over Heels” and “Turn To You” live on in countless compilations, movie soundtracks, remakes and, yes, even a string of very successful television commercials.
Having accomplished more in just a few years than most bands could ever imagine, The Go-Go’s were inactive for the last half of the 80’s, splintered in various directions with each member busy with solo projects and real life. The groups legacy was rekindled in 90 when The Go-Go’s reunited for a charity show.
At this point, most bands would have happily settled into obscurity or would have desperately flung themselves into futile and embarrassing updates of their sound. But not The Go-Go’s. On the strength of the VH-1 special, God Bless The Go-Go’s, an all-new collection of songs was released in 2001. A stack of glowing reviews soon followed backed by a triumphant tour, later immortalized in the exciting DVD, Live In Central Park.
The whole world may have lost its head, but in a world gone crazy, The Go-Go’s still have the beat. And now, three decades after the release of their first album, go-go music still makes us dance!