Aren’t they at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Among the myriad of artists who justify the answer, The Go-Go’s has been one of the most prominent omissions.
But that changes on Saturday, when singer Belinda Carlisle, guitarist / keyboardist Charlotte Caffey, drummer Gina Schock, bassist Kathy Valentine and guitarist / singer Jane Wiedlin receive their late coronation in Cleveland as part of Class of 2021.
Drew Barrymore will induct the quintet, which will be entered in the “performer” category with Jay-Z, Carole King (as solo artist, being inducted by Taylor Swift), Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner (as solo artist, being inducted by Angela Bassett) and Foo Fighters (inducted by Paul McCartney). The major lineup will be joined by “early influence” selections Kraftwerk, Charley Patton and Gil Scott-Heron; “Musical excellence” recruits LL Cool J, Billy Preston and Randy Rhoads; and Clarence Avant, winner of the Ahmet Ertegun Award, to be inducted by Lionel Richie.
The Go-Go catalog is showcased by Our lips are Sealed, We have the To beat, Vacation and Crazy in Love and the group is set to perform a trio of hits at the ceremony, which airs on HBO and HBO Max on November 20. (The Foo Fighters will also be performing, while Turner will be portrayed on stage by Christina Aguilera, Mickey Guyton, HER and Bryan Adams, and Swift and Jennifer Hudson will perform on behalf of King.)
In separate interviews, Schock, Wiedlin and Caffey spoke about the significance of their induction and the pioneering legacy of The Go-Go’s – the first all-female group to write their own songs, play their own instruments and feature in top of the Billboard Albums chart, as they did in 1982 with The beauty and the To beat.
On the group’s reaction to the news of the induction:
Schock: At first we were like (expletives) them! You’re not going to let us in, (expletively) you. But when we found out we were actually going, we were like, âOh my God, we’re going to be at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! It’s like receiving the Oscar for your entire career. From hateful to grateful, as they sayâ¦ It’s been a long time for women and we are on this wave that is hitting very hard at the moment. We’ve been feminists without even realizing it, just because we do what we do. It turns out that we are five girls who got together, made some music and had a great time. The fact that we are women was secondary. All these years later, there still isn’t a band like The Go-Go’s.
Caffey: The appointment was one thing. We were really excited like âWow! But deep down inside I was like, we’ve got to be inducted. I didn’t really have any hope or think about it, but when the news came we were really thrilled and a little stunned.
Wiedlin: Funny, we’ve been eligible for 15 years. I think we’ve all thought, ever since we were the first successful girl’s rock band to play their own instruments and write their own songs, that it’s some Hall of Fame kind of thing, like the guy who did the most home runs. So when that didn’t happen after a few years we were like eh, what’s going on? And then there was a changing of the guard (within the committee) and as soon as that happened, we were appointed. I was super excited.
On the influence of Alison Ellwood’s 2020 documentary The Go-Go’s:
Wiedlin: Almost no one in this country knew about our heritage and we had no way of spreading it until the Alison documentary. She hammered out that post that we’re the # 1 girl rock band and I love that it’s something you can never take away from us. After the Behind the music debacle (in 1997) which was so ridiculously salacious and negative, I was shy (about making a documentary). It took us a year of meeting Alison before making this leap of faith.
Caffey: Alison really showed what we were like at the start and the passion and stuff, and that, for me, had an impact. As I showed up for the interview, I started rambling the second we started. It was such a flow, such a great atmosphere. What was really telling was that she sent us a rough cut and said, âPlease watch this from start to finish,â and by the end I was floored. . When we went to Sundance and saw the reaction after people came to watch it, there was a standing ovation for us and we were like, âWhat? We had the same experience of how it changed our view of the band and each other and it was very healing. Even though it happened to me, I felt like a stranger looking inside.
On the legacy of The Go-Go’s:
Wiedlin: (We want people to remember) how we got by in a man’s world. It was hard. People were blatantly and blatantly sexist in those days. The industry is still run by patriarchy, but people are a lot more careful about being open about it – at least they know they can be wrong. And the power of the girls was really important. We all had tremendous strength and courage because there were five of us and we were incredibly naive. Most of us had no experience in the music business.
Schock: I come from a middle class blue collar family. So no matter where you are from, if you have confidence in yourself and people have confidence in you, you have a chance. My parents supported me a lot as a musician even though they thought I was completely crazy. Well, sometimes it works!
Caffey: It’s about the songs and the music that we wrote. It’s classic in a way because this music has stood the test of time. Our heritage includes when we play live. People leave the show elated and have a change of energy and bring it out into the world. It’s one of the best things we can do. We did not compromise. We were who we were and we wrote what we wrote.
– United States today