Dear RRHOF (and anyone else who overlooked The Go-Go’s),
Once upon a time in L.A.’s late-’70s punk scene, a bunch of young women found each other and decided to do something no all-girl group had done yet: write their own songs and play their own instruments.
Last on that goal list? Become one of the biggest bands of the early-mid 80s.
They did that.
They are Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine and Jane Wiedlin. They had bigger dreams than the punk universe would allow. Once Charlotte Caffey wrote “We Got the Beat” in all of five minutes she pretty much sealed their destiny.
Early on, when they went to England to tour with The Specials and Madness, the white nationalists (a.k.a. The National Front) who loved ska music also loved to taunt and spit at The Go-Go’s while they were on stage. Lots of rock and rollers have been spat on during performances, but few specifically because they were women. To make them feel welcome an onlooker might scream: “Show your tits.”
They kept Go-Go-ing.
Dave Robinson, co-founder of Stiff Records admitted that he didn’t sign them because “…an American punk girl band objecting to being spit at…” wasn’t worth signing. But he did put out “We Got the Beat” as a single and it was a hit.
Still, they couldn’t get a record deal. Because “girl bands” didn’t sell records.
Miles Copeland who managed The Police signed them to his independent label I.R.S. Records and made them the opening act for The Police tour, where their debut album Beauty and the Beat surpassed The Police’s Ghost in the Machine on the charts, racing to Number One.
After a wild ride through the pop culture stratosphere, blazing trails for future girl groups to come, they broke up in 1985.
We could worship them as Our Ladies of the Music Revolution, or, better perhaps, The Patron Saints of Women in Rock.
We want them in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
But don’t induct them for any of that. Least of all for being all women.
Seriously. Don’t. They’re way more than that.
Here’s a short list of why you should:
1. To inspire kids who don’t belong to go out and find other misfits to make music with. Jane Wiedlin admitted that she never felt she fit in and tried to kill herself when she was fifteen. Maybe an organic outlet of hanging with weirdos you can jump around and make noise with is exactly what America’s youth is missing right now.
2. A lot of today’s music is manufactured—and it sucks. It was created on a digital soundboard with a digital mindset with a shallow social-media-minded map for success. It’s boring, and a lot of it sounds the same. Arguably not all of it, but we can we make organic art a trend again, please?
3. When The Go-Go’s first formed, they wanted to play their own instruments, but didn’t know how. They figured it out and weren’t afraid to suck for a while. Make this Jane Wiedlen quote a mantra for teens: “You don’t know what you’re doing, just fucking do it.” Hell, make it a mantra for everyone.
4. When Charlotte first met Belinda, Belinda was wearing a dress made out of a trash bag, because, dear tethered youth, there was a time when statement dressing couldn’t be purchased online, you had to do it yourself. That’s how true style is born. More trash bag dresses, please.
5. Instead of gathering their keyboard courage and leaving nasty messages on L.A. Times critic Robert Hilburn’s Facebook, they channeled their fuck-the-system rage into music and we need more of that.
6. People who are spit on are the exact people who need to keep going—and inspire others to do the same.
7. Punks are rule-breakers. More punk rock, please.
8. The members of the Go-Go’s hadn’t seen anyone like them or anyone who’d achieved the dreams they dreamed. Think of what a great world we’d live in if more of these kinds of people existed.
Induct them because they fucking deserve it.
And yeah, they were all women doing something unachievable in that way at that time.
You don’t feel the need to acknowledge that?
To quote Police drummer Stewart Copeland from the 2020 documentary The Go-Go’s when he found out they weren’t in the RRHOF: “What the fuck? They’re not?!”
Our sentiments exactly.
So, can you get the hell on this? You’re really freaking behind.