They were girls next door, but always on the Go-Go

Lifestyle

They were girls next door, but always on the Go-Go

There were parties and drugs, yet coursing through the Go-Go’s story is a great spirit of fun, laughter and friendship

Neil McCormick

The Go-Gos made girl group history when their fizzy New Wave debut album, Beauty and the Beat, went to number one in America in 1982. They were the first all-female band who played their own instruments and wrote their own songs to ever achieve that feat. Astonishingly, 38 years later, they remain the only ones. “You hear about how things have changed for women in music,” notes bassist Kathy Valentine. “Maybe they have, but not as much as people like to think.”

I spoke to four out of five surviving band members by phone about a highly entertaining new documentary that tells the story of the rise and fall and resurrection of the Go-Gos. It’s a rip-roaring tale of intense friendship, musical adventure and hair-raising hedonism to match any other band’s saga of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. “All the clichés,” as frontwoman Belinda Carlisle notes, with an amused if slightly long-suffering sigh. “When it came to partying and debauchery, we were just doing what any rock band would do. We were young, we had money and no responsibilities and so we took advantage. Just like most guys would.”

Except the Go-Gos weren’t most guys. “Women in that time had a limited amount of choices in the music business – you could be a slut or a bookworm,” notes guitarist Jane Wiedlin, who at 62 still talks with the squeaky tone of a cartoon character. “We never used our sexuality to get anywhere, so we got shoved into the box marked Girls Next Door. And, I mean, sure, we were those girls. On drugs.”..

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