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The Go-Go's are an American rock band formed in 1978. They made history as the first, and to date only, all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to top the Billboard album charts.
Formed in Los Angeles, California in 1978, the Go-Go's initially consisted of Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitar, vocals), Margot Olavarria (bass) and 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 the Motels, and Carlisle (under the name "Dottie Danger") had briefly been a member of punk rock band The Germs. Due to a bout of mononucleosis, she left The Germs before playing a gig.
The band started out playing gigs at seminal 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 Fear, The Plugz and The Controllers. Charlotte Caffey (lead guitar, keyboards) 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.
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 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.
During December 1980, original bassist Olavarria fell ill with hepatitis A 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 wrongfully throwing her out. The suit was settled in 1984. Olavarria later worked with Martin Atkins and Brian Grillo in a band called Brian Brain.
Belinda Carlisle became the most commercially successful solo artist of the band's alumni, scoring a string of mainstream pop singles in the mid and late '80s, including the No. 3 US hit "Mad About You" (co-written by Paula Jean Brown) and the No. 1 single "Heaven Is a Place on Earth", the latter of which became her signature song. She followed up "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" with "I Get Weak", which peaked at No. 2. 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 titled 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. Carlisle appeared on Dancing with the Stars on ABC in 2009, and starred in London's West End production of the musical Hairspray. She wrote a memoir, Lips Unsealed, that was published in June 2010. In March 2013, Carlisle released her first U.S. single in 17 years, titled "Sun". An uptempo pop song, it was included on Icon, a new greatest hits compilation album. The single was also released in the United Kingdom. The song was written by Carlisle, Wiedlin and singer-songwriter Gabe Lopez. Lopez also produced the song.
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 album Kissproof World. She has also become a legally ordained wedding officiant who performs ceremonies as "Reverend Sister Go-Go". As of 2011, Wiedlin was at work on a new solo album, and a comic book based on herself titled "Lady Robotika".
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. Anna Waronker and Caffey co-wrote "Ordinary Girl", the theme song to the television series Clueless (61 episodes, 1996–1999). 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 No. 1 single on the charts. Caffey and Waronker also wrote the music for the rock opera Lovelace: A Rock Opera based on the life of infamous porn star Linda Lovelace, which premiered in Los Angeles in October 2008.
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. Schock co-wrote the title track for Miley Cyrus's sophomore CD, Breakout, which debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 Charts in the summer of 2008. Schock also co-wrote several tracks on the 2009 debut album Kiss & Tell by Selena Gomez & the Scene. Gomez and Cyrus were both stars on the Disney Channel.
Kathy Valentine returned to her blues-rock roots playing lead guitar with the BlueBonnets, 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). Schock also joined the Delphines as drummer for a brief period. Valentine released a debut solo CD, titled Light Years, in September 2005. In 2006, she relocated to Austin, Texas, and produced a local female trio, Adrian and the Sickness, whose album BFD was released in 2009. Valentine reformed the BlueBonnets, releasing two CDs with them, Boom Boom Boom Boom (2010) and Play Loud (2014), and continues production work in her home studio.
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