The Go-Go's an female American new wave band formed in Los Angeles, released their breakout hit debut album "Beauty and the Beat' on July 8, 1981. The album was preceded by the single and signature song "We Got the Beat", which became a club hit in Europe and, later, the United States. When the album was eventually released, it steadily climbed the Billboard 200 chart, ultimately peaking at number one, where it remained for six consecutive weeks, ranking second among Billboard's Top 100 albums of 1981. The LP sold in excess of two million copies to reach double platinum status, making it 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".
The Go Go's were initially formed in California in 1978. They were the house band at "Whiskey A Go Go" in Hollywood starting in October, 1978. Except for short periods when other musicians joined briefly, the band has had a relatively stable line-up consisting of Charlotte Caffey on lead guitar and keyboards, Belinda Carlisle on lead vocals, Gina Schock on drums, Kathy Valentine on bass guitar, and Jane Wiedlin on rhythm guitar. The Go-Go's rose to fame during the early 1980s. The band is the first all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to top the Billboard album charts.
They were formed as a punk band and had roots in the L.A. punk community. 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 band's 1981 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 No. 1 and remaining there for six consecutive weeks. The album sold over two million copies, making it one of the most successful debut albums of all time, and the group was nominated for the Best New Artist award at the 24th Annual Grammy Awards. Four of the band's singles--"Our Lips Are Sealed", "We Got the Beat", "Vacation", and "Head over Heels"—have reached the Top 20 in the U.S. charts. The Go-Go's have sold over seven million records worldwide.
The group frequently met at a Denny's on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, and it was there that 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.
In 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 wrongful removal. The suit was settled in 1984.
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.
"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.
Here are the Go Go's being introduced by Dick Clark on American Bandstand:
The Go Go's performing "Our Lips Are Sealed" and "We Got The Beat" on American Bandstand:
The Go-Go's broke up in 1985 but reconvened several times through the 1990s and beyond, recording new material and touring. In 2003, the album was ranked No. 413 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
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 July 26, 2018 to January 6, 2019. In 2020, Showtime released a documentary about the Go Go's. Here is the trailer:
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