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The Go-Go, the first band of all girls to write their own music and play their own instruments, invaded the music scene four decades ago.
They are now returning to a new Showtime documentary that premieres on Friday at 9 p.m. ET / PT. Along with the release of Go-Go, the band will release a new single, Club Zero, on Friday.
The documentary tells how bands famous for their beloved hits, such as “We already had a rhythm” and “Our lips are closed”, came together. And it wasn’t easy.
Along the way, members of the group were fired and replaced, rogue businessmen tried to persuade them to give up their music rights, and some members used drugs (and abused them), including cocaine and heroin.
The group was originally disbanded in 1985, although members have since returned to projects.
Before the premiere, here are five documentary screenings:
Go-Go had punk rock roots
While their most famous tracks are pure pop, the band’s roots go back to the Los Angeles punk rock scene in the late 1970s.
“If you were scary, you were cooler,” said lead vocalist Belinda Carlisle. “Everyone could do whatever they wanted. It was complete freedom.”
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Few knew that for about a year they traded in dive bars for arenas such as Madison Square Garden. Group friends quickly tied up.
“We hated our parents and society, but we supported each other,” said rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin.
The punk scene was a sanctuary
While most of The Go-Go admit they were alienated, growing up, Wiedlin in particular experienced a difficult childhood that her father left behind with her family.
“I always felt like I wasn’t joining,” she said.
After she was 15, she tried to commit suicide. Then, using the Women’s Wear Daily, she learned about the London punk rock scene and her wild fashions. She identified with “punk energy and anger.” Soon she created her own clothes to mimic the heavy nail movement.
“People usually walked down the street when they saw me,” she said.
Carlisle, the eldest of seven children, says punk immediately approached her as well.
“I always felt like I was pretending to be something I wasn’t,” she said. “It opened up a whole new world for me.”
If you or someone you know has suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Service at 800-273-TALK (8255) at any time of the day or night, or chat online.
Drummer Gina Schock knew she would “become a rock star”
While all members of The Go-Go had a musical foundation when they started forming the band, most had to learn to play instruments we knew and love.
Take Charlotte Caffey, the band’s lead guitarist. Her roots are in the piano, which she started playing at the age of 4, and even studied music at Immaculate Heart College, a private Catholic school in Los Angeles.
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Going to punk, she says, “all this theory of music, the rules had to be thrown out the window.” She had to pick up the guitar, and fast.
“We were pretty insidious at first,” Caffey said. “We really didn’t sound so great.”
Gina Schock was an exception. As one of the few female drummers at the time, she admits to choosing concerts.
“When I left Baltimore, I told everyone, ‘Next time you see me, I’ll be a rock star.’ “
The early days in London were mixed
Previously, The Go-Go was recruited in London, where they opened many ska groups. Concerts often attracted many white nationalists and, according to members, it was not uncommon for the audience to spit on them and throw bottles and other items on stage.
“They hated us,” Wiedlin said. “We were Americans and worst of all … we were chicks.”
“Here are these five little girls from Southern California playing on stage with these scary skin heads,” Caffey said. “It was scary.”
However, the trip proved worthwhile, it helped to strengthen their profile at home.
“Everyone thought we were big stars in London and we didn’t tell them otherwise,” Wiedlin said.
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They thought the video “Our lips are closed” was a “waste of time”
MTV began its activities in 1981, which is why artists began producing music videos for mass consumption.
The Go-Go took action, filming the video “Our Lips are Closed” for just $ 6,000.
“That money came from a police video in which they didn’t spend all the money,” Wiedlin said.
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The band members didn’t take a serious shot, Caffey said. In fact, when they spat in the fountain, she says they hoped to be arrested.
“We didn’t even imagine how important the video would be,” she said. “We thought it was a big waste of time.”
This video was shown simultaneously every 30 minutes on MTV and included them in pop culture history.
Follow Gary Dinges on Twitter @gdinges
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