30 Years After Beauty And The Beat, Life Lessons From The Go-Go's
There are girl bands and girls that play in bands, and then there are the Go-Go's.
The group hit the L.A. music scene in 1979 with a sugary, pop-infused version of punk that would come to define the New Wave era of music in the 1980s. Thirty-two years later, they still hold the esteemed title of most commercially successful girl band in history, with more than seven million albums sold, and remain the first and the only all-female rock band writing and recording its own material to ever have an album reach No. 1, a feat they accomplished with their 1981 triple-platinum debut Beauty and the Beat.
2011 marks the 30th anniversary of Beauty and the Beat, commemorated with a tour that rolls through Houston's House of Blues Saturday night. Rocks Off sifted through countless articles and interviews with band members Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock in search of whatever lessons could be extracted from the first ladies of New Wave, several of which we've listed below.
Success Doesn't Always Happen Overnight. It took Beauty and the Beat more than eight months to reach No. 1, where it would remain for six consecutive weeks.
Pay No Mind to What They Say. Listening to tracks like "Our Lips Are Sealed," "Vacation" and "Head Over Heels" might lead one to believe that the chirpy '80s power-pop icons never had a bad day in their lives. But just as a church-going girl like Katy Perry can sing about the erotic pleasures of an otherworldly probing, the Go-Go's lighthearted, squeaky-clean lyrics did little to indicate the turmoil behind the scenes. Which brings us to our next point...
"Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll" Isn't a Boys-Only Concept... They may have been billed as "America's Sweethearts", but offstage the Go-Go's were anything but, with epic tales of drugs and sex widely chronicled over the years in countless interviews and a particularly sordid installment of VH1's Behind the Music. To quote the late Rick James, "Cocaine is a hell of a drug," and the Go-Go's certainly had their fill. In her 2010 memoir Lips Unsealed, Belinda Carlisle speaks candidly about her decades-long struggle with the drug and recounts a number of telling moments, like the time Maurice Gibb pulled her aside at the Grammy's and told her to wipe her nose.
...But the Rules are Different for Girls. In a recent interview with the Austin Chronicle, Go-Go's bassist and Austin native Kathy Valentine explains that while they fully adhered to the "sex, drugs, and rock & roll" doctrine, there was a distinctly female interpretation, saying, "This is a band of girls, and they're all girlfriends who have boyfriends. And yet, we're acting pretty naughty out there. Whereas with guys, if they have a girlfriend out there, it doesn't matter because they're supposed to be out there cheating. Girlfriends don't do that. I think that rather than going out and trying to notch conquests, we were more like little mini-relationships."
Pop-Stardom is a Never-Ending Cycle. Go-Go's drummer Gina Schock wrote several songs on Selena Gomez's 2009 debut Kiss & Tell, as well as the title track of Miley Cyrus' second album Breakout, which debuted at No.1 in the summer of 2008.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.