Many of the all-female acts today owe a debt of gratitude to the Go-Go's. This cutting edge, new wave pop group laid the groundwork for much of what has become known today as "chick rockers." This all-female group, originally called the Misfits, was formed in California, USA, in 1978 by Belinda Carlisle (b. 17 August 1958, Hollywood, California, USA; lead vocals) and Jane Wiedlin (b. 20 May 1958, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, USA; rhythm guitar, vocals). They were joined by Charlotte Caffey (b. 21 October 1953, Santa Monica, California, USA; lead guitar, keyboards), Elissa Bello (drums) and Margot Olaverra (bass). Inspired by the new wave scene, the Go-Go's performed bright, harmonious pop songs and were initially signed to the UK independent label Stiff Records and to Miles Copeland's IRS Records in the USA, where they would enjoy practically all their success.
Even though they made it big singing pop hits like "We Got the Beat," "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "Vacation," the Go-Go's started their career as punk rockers. Early during their time together, they earned a notorious reputation for taking pills, snorting cocaine and trashing hotel rooms. By the time of the release of debut album Beauty And The Beat, Olaverra was replaced by ex-Textone Kathy Valentine and Bello by Gina Schock. Produced by Richard Gottehrer, who had earlier worked with a long line of female singers in the 60s, the sprightly pop qualities of Beauty And The Beat drew comparisons with Blondie, with whom Gottehrer had also worked. The album, which stayed at the US number 1 spot for 6 weeks in 1981, included 'Our Lips Are Sealed' (US Top 20), which was co-written by Wiedlin with Terry Hall of the Fun Boy Three, and 'We Got The Beat', which gave the group a US number 2 hit the following year. But once their albums started selling (Beauty and the Beat, which produced "Our Lips Are Sealed," sold more than two million albums and spent six weeks at No.1) and they signed to I.R.S Records, they began to chill out a bit and sell out concerts.
Their second album, Vacation, which was released in 1982, went to the Top 10 and went gold. Their third album, Talk Show, saw the Go-Go's taking chances and broadening their musical realm. Unfortunately, even though it produced two Top 40 hits, it didn't sell well.
With the break-up of the group in 1985, Belinda Carlisle subsequently pursued a successful solo career with assistance from Charlotte Caffey, who, for a time, appeared in her backing group. Caffey later formed the Graces with Meredith Brooks and Gia Campbell and recorded for A&M Records, releasing Perfect View in 1989, before moving into soundtrack work ( Clueless ). Schock formed the short-lived House Of Shock, releasing a self-titled album for Capitol in 1988. As well as recording as a solo artist, Wiedlin attempted to break into acting with a few minor film roles. Galvanized by her, the Go-Go's re-formed briefly in 1990 for a benefit for the anti-fur trade organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). A fuller reunion took place in 1994 for well-paid shows in Las Vegas, prompted by which IRS issued Return To The Valley Of The Go-Go's, a compilation of the band's best-known moments with the addition of two new tracks. Carlisle then resumed her solo career, whilst Valentine and Schock formed The Delphines.