The Go-Go's in at the Wilbur Theatre, Boston, Mass. May 13, 2012
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Pop rock, New Wave|
|Years active||1978–1985, 1990, 1994, 1999–present|
|Past members||Kathy Valentine (1980-2013)|
Paula Jean Brown (1985)
Margot Olavarria (1978–1980)
Elissa Bello (1978–1979)
The Go-Go’s are an all-female American rock band formed in 1978. They made history as the first all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to top the Billboard album charts.
The Go-Go's rose to fame during the early 1980s. Their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, is considered one of the "cornerstone albums of (US) new wave" (Allmusic), breaking barriers and paving the way for a host of other new American acts. When the album was released, it steadily climbed the Billboard 200 chart, ultimately reaching number one, where it remained for six consecutive weeks. The LP sold in excess of three million copies and reached triple platinum status, making it one of the most successful debut albums ever. The Go-Go's have sold more than seven million albums.
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 X, 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 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 UK hit.
During December 1980, original bassist Margot Olaverria 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 relates in her autobiography, Lips Unsealed, that, according to the band's view, another reason for Olaverria's dismissal from the Go-Go's was that she was frequently missing rehearsals, due largely to her dissatisfaction with the band's move away from hardcore punk and toward pop. In late 1982, Olaverria sued the remaining members of the band for wrongfully throwing her out. The suit was settled in 1984. Olaverria later worked with Martin Atkins and Brian Grillo in a band called Brian Brain.
The Go-Go's signed to I.R.S. Records in April 1981. 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 triple 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 number 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 extremely popular singles in North America in early 1982. In this period the Go-Go's became America's sweethearts and started building a fan base.
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 Beauty and the Beat. However, the album was certified Gold in the U.S. and spawned another top 10 US 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. During the album's promotion the group was forced to go on hiatus when Schock underwent surgery for a congenital heart defect.
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 critiques, 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. Jane 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 2-disc retrospective Return to the Valley of The Go-Go's, which featured 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, but 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.
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 when the band reunited for a brief tour  and they finally began to resolve their personal differences.
In 2001, the band (still with the "classic" line-up) 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.
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.
The Go-Go's have toured regularly since 1999. In February 2010, Carlisle announced that the 2010 tour would be billed as the Farewell tour, but this tour was cancelled when Jane Wiedlin injured her knee, requiring surgery and up to a year of recovery time.
Since 2010, the idea of a farewell tour seems to have been abandoned, as the Go-Go's have toured every year since with no indication that they have plans to quit. 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. They subsequently toured the US in 2012, and have recently announced a series of tour dates for 2013, including several double-bills with The B-52's.
On March 8, 2013, the Go-Go’s parted ways with bassist Kathy Valentine, citing creative differences. The rest of the lineup, original since 1979 (Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock and Jane Wiedlin) remains intact.
Jane Wiedlin is at work on a new solo album, and a comic book based on herself titled "Lady Robotika". Belinda Carlisle appeared on Dancing with the Stars on ABC in 2009. She recently starred in London's West End production of the musical Hairspray. Charlotte Caffey along with Anna Waronker wrote the music for the rock opera Lovelace: A Rock Opera based on the life of infamous porn star, Linda Lovelace. The opera premiered in Los Angeles in October 2008. Kathy Valentine produced a new Blue Bonnets album "Boom Boom Boom Boom," released June 2010. The group was originally slated to begin their "Happily Ever After" summer farewell tour, which was scheduled to kick off July 7 at Lilith Fair San Diego, and conclude in Austin, TX on July 27. However, it was cancelled due to Jane Wiedlin injuring her knee after a 20-foot (6.1 m) fall while hiking near her home in Northern California. They re-scheduled their tour for the following year, calling it the "Ladies Gone Wild" Tour, and on August 11, 2011 the band received the 2,444th star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame located at the site of where small punk rock club "The Masque" used to stand. At this location, the band would rehearse and play their first live show. A new best of album is in the works that includes a new single. 
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