updated 14 Jun 2010, 19:40
    Powered by
user id password
Thu, Jun 10, 2010
EmailPrintDecrease text sizeIncrease text size
Carlisle's Go-Go life of snot and spit

New York - Singer Belinda Carlisle reveals a double-edged life in a new memoir from her glory days in the all-girl band the Go-Go's.

'I was like the good girl, bad girl, there were no grey areas for me,' Carlisle said in an interview recalling how her days growing up in poor suburban Los Angeles where the contrast between being both a shoplifter and popular high school cheerleader formed patterns in her life.

Her recently released book, Lips Unsealed - a play on the hit Go-Go's' 1981 smash hit song Our Lips Are Sealed - details much of her early days forming the band in Los Angeles' punk scene and becoming 'the first female band (formed by women) to write our own songs and play our own instruments'.

After obsessions with bands such as Queen and the Sex Pistols, Carlisle and guitarist/songwriter Jane Wiedlin helped start the new-wave band but were clueless about how to perform.

'The punk scene was great in that anybody could be in a band and be terrible, including us,' she said.

'We started from zero, we didn't have a Svengali. We had no idea how to play our instruments.'

But soon they played in Los Angeles clubs such as the Whisky a Go Go and gained a following with their high energy and punk image that saw Carlisle sporting a crew cut, changing hair colours and experimenting with outrageous outfits.

'It was never a contrived image. We just looked that way. It was a combination of punk, rockabilly and tiaras, torn stockings and stilettos,' she said.

'And we just had these angelic faces that hid a multitude of sins.'

Endless partying began from the early days as the band toured with British ska band Madness and played rough clubs in British cities such as Newcastle and Leeds.

In those venues, the Go-Go's sang their demo version of the early single, We Got The Beat, and were spat on - a practice known as 'gobbing'.

'It was horrible. I remember coming off crying and covered in snot,' she said. 'It was lonely and it was dangerous, five little white girls from southern California being thrown in with all these hard-core skinheads.'

The 50-year-old recalls in the memoir struggling to get signed to a record label, with executives believing that all-female bands would not sell.

Eventually they were signed to IRS records which steered them to a more pop-orientated sound for their debut album, Beauty And The Beat, that launched the band to global success.

Carlisle's cocaine habit then careened out of control. She struggled with the drug for decades through her later solo career, which began after the Go-Go's broke up in 1985. Her solo hits included Mad About You, Heaven Is A Place On Earth, Leave A Light On and Summer Rain.

But she gave up the habit after a pivotal moment hallucinating in a hotel room. 'There was no question in my mind I was going to die.'

Her drug use, she said, was fed by her low self-esteem, her struggle with weight and the lack of a proper father figure growing up.

These days she meditates, practises a drug-recovery programme and is about to embark on a farewell tour with the Go-Go's.

And she is thankful the band did not emerge from the Los Angeles club scene and find stardom in today's tabloid world.

'There is no way I could have got away with what I did,' she said. 'Graveyards at 2 o'clock in the morning on acid, I don't think so.'

readers' comments

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.