Once again we return to a superstar band that wasn’t a superstar band when this was filmed in 1980.
The Go-Go’s debut Beauty and the Beat was released in early July of 1981 and was RIAA certified double platinum the following year. They were already gaining a fan base as a result of opening for Madness in Los Angeles and the U.K., but the album and singles “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got The Beat” were massively popular. It seemed especially well-liked with teen girls, these five happy, energetic young women, playing all the instruments and writing catchy songs.
I lived with a teen girl–my older sister–so that’s probably why The Go-Go’s seemed so popular. Our family moved to a small mountain town in Colorado from southern California a couple years before the album’s release and this band felt like what I still considered “home.” I think my sister probably had that connection as well, the sun and the beach instead of the mountains and snow. The music took us to a different place. This was our generation’s surf music (listen to the guitar on “This Town”), but my family was 1,000 miles away from the nearest coast, and I was pretty bitter about it. The Go-Go’s were a connection back to those SoCal days. (Yes, nostalgia had set in for me at the ripe old age of 12.) I have lots of memories of their records being played on my sister’s stereo, the sound coming out thin and high with not much bass, which tended to give even more of a SoCal surf music feel.
So The Go-Go’s were already an established worldwide success by the time I saw them in Urgh!, whenever that would have been, probably 1983. In fact, when I saw Urgh! on cable, the band were one album away from breaking up. Guitarist and songwriter Jane Wiedlin left in late 1984 and the The Go-Go’s broke up in 1985.
Where URGH! They Now?
In my mind there’s two post-Go-Go’s eras. The first is just after they broke up, when Belinda had her big pop heyday in the late 80s. Her songs were everywhere for a couple of years, but when I got to San Diego State I started working at the college radio station and fell out of touch with the pop world. The band released Return to the Valley of the Go-Go’s in 1994 with some new songs, but for me the second post-Go-Go’s era is after 2001, after God Bless the Go-Go’s up to recently, when Kathy Valentine left/was escorted out of the group. It’s just not the same for me when original members are out, especially when there are lawsuits.
Belinda has continued to sing on her own solo records and Go-Go’s reunion functions. She’s an animal activist and posts regularly about her goings-on (yoga projects, activism in India) on Twitter.
Jane released one of my favorite pop songs, the single “Rush Hour,” in 1988. This song was the soundtrack around my high school graduation:
Honestly, I’ve always had a crush on Jane, from her playing guitar in The Go-Go’s and singing with Sparks (“Cool Places,” “Lucky Me, Lucky You”) to her role as Joan of Arc in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Something about her guitar-slinging badassery combined with that pixie cut and her sweet voice. Jane’s an activist for animals as well, is on Twitter, too, and can even marry you if you want! MarriedByJane.com
Charoltte Caffey continued to play and write with Belinda for a while, formed her own band The Graces, and wrote the theme to the TV show Clueless as well as a #1 country hit with Keith Urban. She’s co-written with Redd Kross, Hole, and Andy Summers.
Gina Schock released one album as House of Schock in the first-post era and according to Wikipedia has continued to work and play with an impressive roster of artists: a-ha, Feargal Sharkey, John Mellencamp, Little Richard, Alanis Morrissette, the Wilson sisters from Wilson-Phillips, and even new pop stars Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. She’s got an official Facebook page that seems to be her doing the posting (as opposed to a hired hand).
Kathy Valentine lives in Austin and seems like the kind of denizen that city cultivates – arty, weird, awesome. She’s pretty active on Twitter and Facebook, and her website looks to be updated sometime this fall. The song playing in the YouTube preview video on her site sounds like a kickass cross between the Breeders and Superdrag. She plays in a band called The Blue Bonnets and has also started The She Factory, a nonprofit that seeks to “assemble the talents of women in the arts.”
As for the band, after releasing God Bless the Go-Go’s, a full album of new material in 2001 (complete with a Billie Joe Armstrong co-write), they seem to be starting a push for a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2018 bid. They have a website and Twitter account, and have remastered & reissued their early albums, with Beauty and the Beat getting an expanded version with some early live tracks for its 30th anniversary.
Last ThURGHsday! – Athletico Spizz 80 – “Where’s Captain Kirk?”