The Go-Go's

Last updated

The Go-Go's
The Go Gos in 2012.jpg
The Go-Go's in 2012
Background information
Origin Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active
  • 1978–1985
  • 1990
  • 1994
  • 1999–2023
Past members

The Go-Go's were an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1978. [1] Except for short periods when other musicians joined briefly, the band has had a relatively stable lineup consisting of Charlotte Caffey on lead guitar and keyboards, Belinda Carlisle on lead vocals, Gina Schock on drums, Kathy Valentine on bass, and Jane Wiedlin on rhythm guitar. They are widely considered the most successful all-female rock band of all time. [2]


The quintet emerged from the L.A. punk rock scene of the late 1970s and in 1981 released their debut album Beauty and the Beat . The LP topped the Billboard album chart—a (still-unequaled) first for an all-female band writing their own material and playing their own instruments. [3] Beauty and the Beat is considered one of the "cornerstone albums of US new wave" (AllMusic), having broken barriers and paved the way for a host of other new American acts. It yielded two of the Go-Go's four biggest Hot 100 hits—"Our Lips Are Sealed" (no. 20) and "We Got the Beat" (no. 2)—and, after a long and steady climb, reached number one in the chart dated March 6, 1982. The album stayed at the top for six consecutive weeks, eventually selling more than two million copies. [4] The group, credited as simply Go-Go's on all of their US releases, was nominated for the Best New Artist award at the 24th Annual Grammy Awards.

Two more albums followed: Vacation (1982)—whose title track reached no. 8 on Billboard's Hot 100—and Talk Show (1984), which included the hits "Head over Heels" (no. 11) and "Turn to You" (no. 32). [5] The Go-Go's have sold more than seven million records worldwide. [6] [7]

The Go-Go's broke up in 1985, with each member embarking on a solo career, and Carlisle being the most successful, having several top-5 singles through the late 1980s. They have reconvened several times starting in the 1990s, releasing a new album in 2001, God Bless the Go-Go's , and touring. They received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011. [8] Though the band's 2016 performances were billed as a farewell tour, the band remains active on an ad hoc basis. Head Over Heels , a musical featuring the songs of the Go-Go's, ran on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre from 2018 to 2019. [9] The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021.


Original incarnation (1978–1980)

Formed in Los Angeles in 1978, the Go-Go's initially consisted of Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitar, background vocals), Margot Olavarria (bass), and Elissa Bello (drums). [10]

They were formed as a punk band and had roots in the L.A. punk community. [11] They shared a rehearsal space with the Motels and Carlisle, under the name "Dottie Danger", had briefly been a member of punk rock band the Germs. After she became temporarily ill, she separated from the Germs before ever playing a gig.

The band began playing gigs at punk venues such as The Masque and the Whisky a Go Go in Los Angeles and the Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco alongside bands such as X, Fear, the Plugz and the Controllers. Charlotte Caffey (lead guitar, keyboards, background vocals) was added later in 1978, and in the summer of 1979, Gina Schock replaced Bello on drums. With these lineup changes, the group began moving towards their more-familiar power pop sound.

The group frequently met at a Denny's on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and it was there they chose the band's name.

During late 1979, the band recorded a five-song demo at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, and in 1980, they supported the British ska revival groups Madness and The Specials 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. [12]

In December 1980, original bassist Olavarria fell ill [13] and was replaced with Kathy Valentine, who had played guitar in bands such as Girlschool and the Textones. Valentine had not previously played bass guitar. Carlisle also related 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 frequently missed rehearsals, due largely to her dissatisfaction with the band's move away from punk and toward pop. In late 1982, Olavarria sued the remaining members of the band for wrongful removal. The lawsuit was settled in 1984. Olavarria later joined Martin Atkins' band Brian Brain. [14]

Career peak (1981–1983)

The Go-Go's signed to I.R.S. Records in April 1981. The following year, they toured with The Police on the Ghost in the Machine Tour. 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 No. 2 in Canada, where it received a platinum certification, and No. 27 in Australia. In 2003, the album was ranked No. 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 popular singles in North America in early 1982. During this period, the Go-Go's started building a fanbase. [15]

In 1982, the group was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. [16] [17]

The follow-up album, Vacation , received mixed reviews and sold less than Beauty and the Beat. However, the album was certified gold in the U.S. and spawned another Top 10 U.S. 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 went on hiatus when Schock underwent surgery for a congenital heart defect.

Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin in the "Turn to You" music video GoGos1984TurnToYou.jpg
Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin in the "Turn to You" music video

Talk Show and initial breakup (1984–1985)

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 reception, the album sold 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, selecting Paula Jean Brown (of Giant Sand) as their new bass guitarist, with Valentine moving to rhythm guitar. This lineup 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 and lawsuit (1990–1999)

In 1990, the Go-Go's classic lineup (Caffey, Carlisle, Schock, Valentine, and Wiedlin) reunited to play a benefit concert for the California Environmental Protection Act, a 1990 ballot initiative. The band also entered the studio with producer David Z to re-record a cover of "Cool Jerk" for a greatest hits compilation.[ citation needed ]

In 1994, the same lineup got together again to release a two-disc retrospective entitled Return to the Valley of The Go-Go's , featuring 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, and 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.[ citation needed ]

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 and the Go-Go's toured regularly from 1999 onward.

God Bless the Go-Go's (2000–2009)

The band in Austin, Texas, 2008. L to R: Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock and Kathy Valentine. Off frame: Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey. The Go-Gos - Belinda Carlisle, Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock.jpg
The band in Austin, Texas, 2008. L to R: Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock and Kathy Valentine. Off frame: Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey.

In 2001, the band (still with the "classic" lineup) 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.[ citation needed ] The band also released a DVD of their reunion concert in Central Park. [18]

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. [19]

In 2002 the Go-Go's recorded the theme song for the WB comedy series "Do Over." Written by Charlotte Caffey, Kathy Valentine, and Jane Wiedlin, the track was recorded in Los Angeles for the show, which premiered on Sept. 19 on the network. [20]

In 2004 the band hosted a concert in Costa Mesa together with The Motels. [21]

Farewell tour, departure of Kathy Valentine and Broadway musical (2010–2019)

In February 2010, Carlisle announced that the 2010 tour would be billed as the "Farewell Tour", [22] but this tour was cancelled when Wiedlin injured her knee while hiking near her home in Northern California, requiring surgery and up to a year of recovery time. [23]

After 2010, the idea of a farewell tour seemed to have been abandoned, with the Go-Go's touring frequently. 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. [24] They toured the US in 2012, with Abby Travis subbing for an injured Valentine during the latter part of the tour.

On March 8, 2013, the group's official website said "irreconcilable differences" had led to the departure of bassist Valentine. [25] On May 24, Valentine sued her former bandmates for "breach of fiduciary duty and abuse of an attempt to deprive [her] of her position and interest in the group". [26] [27] Officially a quartet (Caffey, Carlisle, Schock, and Wiedlin—Travis continued to play bass, but was not an official group member), the Go-Go's continued on, playing a series of tour dates in 2013 and 2014, including several double bills with the B-52's. [28]

In 2014, the band was inducted in the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. [29] That same year, the lawsuit that Valentine brought against her former bandmates was settled out of court.[ citation needed ]

We're not breaking up, per se – we're just not going to be doing the touring like we've been doing for many, many years. We might still do a date here or there, or do a benefit or something like that, but not do the big touring anymore. So that's what that's about.

Charlotte Caffey [30]

On March 21, 2016, plans for a Go-Go's farewell tour (minus Valentine) were officially announced. A band statement said: "After a 38-year run, we are gearing up for one last blast of a summer tour". [31]

Valentine rejoined the band to perform their first show together as a quintet in six years at New York's Bowery Ballroom on January 31, 2018, to announce the Broadway dates of their new musical, Head Over Heels. The new musical—which premiered at New York's Hudson Theatre in the summer of 2018—features the band's hits (including "Get Up and Go" and "Lust to Love") as well as Carlisle's solo hits "Mad About You" and "Heaven Is a Place on Earth". [32] The musical had a preview at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2015. [33]

Documentary movie, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, reunion tour (2020–present)

In 2020, a documentary movie about the band premiered at Sundance, [34] [35] directed by Allison Ellwood after the band saw her work on the 2013 History of the Eagles documentary. In the US, the movie was seen on television on Showtime. The documentary features the formation and rise of the band through the 1980s breakup, skipping the lawsuits and reunions through the 1990s-2010s, ending with a 2019 reunion. [36] On July 31, 2020, the Go-Go's released their first new song in 19 years, "Club Zero", which is featured in the documentary. [37]

In January 2020 the band, which was to include Kathy Valentine, announced an 11-date reunion tour scheduled to begin in June 2020 however in May 2020 the tour was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [38]

On October 30, 2021, the band was inducted by longtime fan Drew Barrymore into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [39]

On December 14, 2021, the band performed a special show, with a majority of the audience being contest winners, at the Whisky a Go Go to celebrate their induction. Clem Burke filled in on drums for Gina Schock. [40] On December 27, 2021, the band postponed a short West Coast tour scheduled for the first week of January 2022 due to a COVID-19 case involving someone on the tour. [41]

The band announced plans for a 2022 UK tour with Billy Idol that should have started in June 2022. [42] Due to Billy Idol's illness, the tour had to be postponed without the Go Go's. [43]

In 2023, Belinda Carlisle declared that the group had disbanded. [44]


Final lineup

Former members


The Go-Go's



See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Beauty and the Beat</i> (The Go-Gos album) 1981 studio album by the Go-Gos

Beauty and the Beat is the debut album from California new wave band the Go-Go's. Released in 1981 on the I.R.S. Records label, the album reached number one on Billboard's Top LPs & Tape chart in March 1982, bolstered by its two big Hot 100 hit singles: "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got the Beat", initially released in 1980, but in a different version. After a long and steady climb, Beauty and the Beat reached number one in the album chart dated March 6, 1982, the week before "We Got the Beat" entered the Top Ten of the Hot 100. The album stayed at the top for six consecutive weeks, and ranked second in Billboard's year-end Top 100 of 1982. The LP sold in excess of two million copies, and was RIAA-certified double platinum, qualifying it as one of the most successful debut albums of all time. Critically acclaimed, it has been described as one of the "cornerstone albums of American new wave".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Belinda Carlisle</span> American singer

Belinda Jo Carlisle is an American singer. She gained fame as the lead vocalist of the Go-Go's, the most successful all-female rock band of all time, and went on to have a prolific career as a solo artist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charlotte Caffey</span> American guitarist

Charlotte Irene Caffey is an American guitarist, best known for her work in the rock band the Go-Go's in the 1980s, including writing "We Got the Beat".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jane Wiedlin</span> American musician

Jane Marie Genevieve Wiedlin is an American musician and singer, best known as the co-founder, rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist of the new wave band The Go-Go's. She is also the drummer and backup vocalist of the rock band The Hex Girls. She also had a successful solo career.

<i>Vacation</i> (The Go-Gos album) 1982 studio album by the Go-Gos

Vacation is the second studio album by American rock band the Go-Go's, released on July 20, 1982, by I.R.S. Records. The album reached number eight on the Billboard 200, and has been certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The title track reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100. The Go-Go's were riding high at the time of the album's first release, their prospects to all outward appearances looking bright. Future problems were beginning to take shape, as the members' drug use and internal fighting began to escalate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gina Schock</span> American rock drummer

Regina Ann Schock is an American musician, best known as the drummer for the rock band The Go-Go's.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kathy Valentine</span> American guitarist and bassist

Kathryn Valentine is an American musician who is the bassist for the pop punk band the Go-Go's. She has maintained a career in music through songwriting, recording, performing and touring as well as additional academic and creative pursuits. Valentine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in October 2021 as a member of The Go-Go's.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Our Lips Are Sealed</span> 1981 single by the Go-Gos

"Our Lips Are Sealed" is a song co-written by Jane Wiedlin, guitarist of the Go-Go's, and Terry Hall, singer of the Specials and Fun Boy Three.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vacation (The Go-Go's song)</span> 1982 single by the Go-Gos

"Vacation" is a 1982 single released by the all-female rock band, the Go-Go's. The song was the first single from the album, Vacation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mad About You (Belinda Carlisle song)</span> 1986 single by Belinda Carlisle

"Mad About You" is the debut solo single by American singer Belinda Carlisle. It was written by Paula Jean Brown, James Whelan and Mitchel Young Evans, and produced by Michael Lloyd for Carlisle's debut solo album Belinda. The single was released in 1986 as a CD single, 7-inch single and a 12-inch single. It was her first hit after leaving the Go-Go's, peaking at number three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and at number one on the Canadian Singles Chart.

<i>Heaven on Earth</i> (Belinda Carlisle album) 1987 studio album by Belinda Carlisle

Heaven on Earth is the second solo studio album by American singer Belinda Carlisle. It was released on October 5, 1987, by MCA Records. Three singles reached the top 10 of the US Billboard Hot 100, including the number-one single and Carlisle's signature song "Heaven Is a Place on Earth". The album has been certified triple Platinum in the United Kingdom and Platinum in many countries, including the United States.

<i>Belinda</i> (Belinda Carlisle album) 1986 studio album by Belinda Carlisle

Belinda is the debut studio album by American singer Belinda Carlisle. It was released on May 19, 1986 by I.R.S. Records. Carlisle began work on the album in 1985 following the breakup of the Go-Go's, for whom she was the lead singer. The album was supported by four singles, with lead single "Mad About You" peaking at number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 in Canada.

<i>Runaway Horses</i> (album) 1989 studio album by Belinda Carlisle

Runaway Horses is the third solo studio album by American singer Belinda Carlisle, released on October 3, 1989, by MCA Records. The album features songs written by Rick Nowels, Ellen Shipley, Charlotte Caffey and a song co-written by Carlisle herself. The album contains an array of guest artists, including George Harrison and Bryan Adams.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abby Travis</span> American bassist

Abby Travis is an American musician. In the 1990s, she began working as a touring bass player. She has worked with The Go-Go's, The Eagles of Death Metal, Masters of Reality, The Bangles, KMFDM, Beck, and Elastica.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">We Got the Beat</span> 1982 single by the Go-Gos

"We Got the Beat" is a song by the American rock band the Go-Go's, written by the group's lead guitarist and keyboardist Charlotte Caffey. The band first recorded the song in 1980 for a single on UK-based Stiff Records, and later rerecorded it for their debut album Beauty and the Beat on I.R.S. Records. The initial single release brought the Go-Go's underground credibility during their first UK tour and in the band's hometown of Los Angeles. The first version reached No. 35 on the U.S. Hot Dance Club Play chart due to its popularity in clubs as an import, and the second version was a top 10 hit in both the United States and Canada. It is considered a new wave classic hit, as well as being the Go-Go's' signature song. The song was named one of "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll".

<i>Talk Show</i> (The Go-Gos album) 1984 studio album by the Go-Gos

Talk Show is the third studio album by the American rock band the Go-Go's, released on the I.R.S. label in 1984. Although some critics considered it an inspired return to form after their second album Vacation, other than the No. 11 hit single "Head over Heels", the album was a relative commercial disappointment, peaking at No. 18 and selling fewer than 500,000 copies. This would be the last all-original album by the group until 2001's God Bless The Go-Go's.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">How Much More</span>

"How Much More" is a song written by Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin that was first released as part of the Go-Go's debut single along with "We Got the Beat" in 1980. A re-recorded version was released on their 1981 debut album Beauty and the Beat.

<i>God Bless the Go-Gos</i> 2001 studio album by the Go-Gos

God Bless the Go-Go's is the fourth studio album by the American rock band the Go-Go's, released on May 15, 2001. It was their first studio album in 17 years since the release of Talk Show in 1984.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Head over Heels (Go-Go's song)</span> 1984 single by The Go-Gos

"Head over Heels" is a song by the all-female pop rock/new wave band the Go-Go's, released in 1984 as the first single from their third studio album, Talk Show. The song was written by band members Charlotte Caffey and Kathy Valentine, and produced by English record producer Martin Rushent. The Go-Gos' rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin has cited "Head over Heels" as her favorite Go-Go's song, describing it as "just a classic. Like a little pop truffle of chocolate that's just completely delicious."

<i>The Go-Gos</i> (film) 2020 film

The Go-Go's is a 2020 American-Irish-Canadian documentary film directed and produced by Alison Ellwood. The film follows the rise of the girl band The Go-Go's.


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