Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
US all-girl new wave quintet formed '78 by fashion designer Jane Wiedlin (b 20 May 1958, Oconomowoc WI), guitar, and lead singer/former cheerleader Belinda Carlisle (b 17 August 1958, Hollywood; ex-Black Randy and the Metro Squad). The group originally called the Misfits was expanded by expert guitarist Charlotte Caffey (b 21 October 1953, Santa Monica) to help out novice Wiedlin, whose attraction to new wave had been via fashion. First drummer Elissa Bello replaced by seasoned Gina Schock (b 31 August 1957, Baltimore); the band now called the Go-Go's took bright pop to the UK after signing with Stiff. The songs mixed girl-group harmonies with fashionable energy in much the same way as Blondie; 'We Got The Beat' unaccountably stiffed when released on Stiff (despite a tour with Madness), but became their second (and biggest) hit after they were signed by the USA-based IRS label, no. 2 late '81 after 'Our Lips Are Sealed' was no. 20. The album they both came from, Beauty And The Beast, was no. 1 USA for six weeks, produced by Richard Gottehrer, who had also produced Blondie, reinforcing that comparison.
The original bassist Margot Olavera had been replaced '80 by Kathy Valentine (b 7 January 1959, Austin TX); their second LP Vacation '82 was no. 2, had no. 8 hit title cut (with hilarious formation-waterskiing video, the group never afraid to mix humour with music). More hits '84 with 'Head Over Heels' no. 11, 'Turn To You' no. 32, but no hits at all in the UK, though 'Our Lips Are Sealed', co-written by Wiedlin and Terry Hall of Fun Boy Three, was no. 7 '83 when covered by that group. Difficulty in finishing Talk Show '84 suggested problems, confirmed by split after release of the no. 18 LP: Valentine and Schock intended to carry on, but the moment was past. (Schock had open-heart surgery late '80s, recovered.) Weidlin had left during recording; had already recorded with Sparks and released solo Jane Wiedlin '85.
Carlisle was successful with melodic, bombastic rock on Belinda '86, still on IRS, and Heaven On Earth '87 on MCA (both no. 13 albums USA), followed by Runaway Horses '89 (guests including George Harrison), Real '93 on Virgin and A Woman And A Man '96 on Chrysalis. She published a memoir Lips Unsealed in 2010.