Lead vocalist of The Go-Go's
“Life's too short to be a Go-Go for twenty years.” Belinda Carlisle
Grammy nominated American singer Belinda Carlisle first came to prominence in the early 1980s as the lead vocalist of the female band The Go-Go's. Co-founded by Carlisle in 1978, the group created rock history by becoming the first all-woman band to write their own songs, play their own instruments and top the Billboard album charts thanks to the double platinum debut album “Beauty and the Beat” (1981). They went on to record the albums “Vacation,” 1982 and “Talk Show,” 1984 before taking a break. Carlisle and the group's classic line up (Charlotte Caffey, Kathy Valentine, Jane Wiedlin and Gina Schock) were reunited for a benefit tour in 1990 and re-recorded a cover of “Cool Jack” for a greatest hits compilation titled “Greatest,” which was released on October 5, 1990. They were reunited in 1994 for the album “Return to the Valley of The Go-Go's” and in 2001 resurfaced with the studio album “God Bless The Go-Go's,” their first album of new material in 17 years.
After The Go-Go's first breakup, Carlisle emerged as a solo artist with her debut “Belinda” (1986), which produced the pop hit “Mad About You.” She gained further recognition with the multi platinum album “Heaven on Earth” (1987), which spawned the No. 1 hit single “Heaven is a Place on Earth.” It was followed by “Runaway Horses” (1989), “Live Your Life Be Free” (1991), “Real” (1993), “A Woman and a Man” (1996) and “Voilà” (2007) as well as several compilation albums, including “The Best of Belinda, Volume 1” (1992), which marked her only album to achieve No. 1 on the U.K. Albums Chart.
Carlisle has been married to Morgan Mason since 1986. They have a son named James Duke Mason (born 1992). She lives in France, but frequently visits the U.S. She has converted to Buddhism.
In January 2009, Carlisle was named the new spokesperson for NutriSystem. She is set to publish an autobiography called “Lips Unsealed: A Memoir,” on May 11, 2010.
Childhood and Family:
Belinda Jo Carlisle was born on August 17, 1958, in Los Angeles, California, to Harold, a contractor, and Joanne, a homemaker. She was named after her mom's favorite movie “Johnny Belinda” (1948). Raised in a large family, Belinda is the eldest of 7 children and has 3 sisters (Mary, Hope and Sarah) and 3 brothers (Josh, Butch and Joe). When she was 5 years old, her father left the family. Her mother later remarried but Belinda was not close to her stepfather. She graduated from Newbury Park High School in Thousand Oaks, California. She was a cheerleader in high school.
On April 12, 1986, Belinda married producer/actor Morgan Mason (born on June 26, 1955), the son of the late British actor James Mason (born in 1909, died in 1984) and his first wife Pamela Mason. The couple welcomed a son, James Duke Mason, on April 27, 1992.
Belinda Carlisle is known by the nicknames Babe and Dottie Danger.
Heaven is a Place on Earth
In 1977, Belinda Carlisle made her professional debut by joining the punk rock group The Germs where she played the drums under the name Dottie Danger. However, because of health reasons, she left the band before actually playing a gig. After leaving The Germs, she co-founded The Go-Go's (formerly known as The Misfits) in 1978 with Jane Wiedlin (guitar/vocals), Margot Olaverra (bass) and Elissa Bello (drums). Lead guitarist Charlotte Caffey joined the group in 1978. After Olaverra and Bello left the band, the group recruited bassist Kathy Valentine and drummer Gina Schock.
The Go-Go's signed a record deal with I.R.S. Records in April 1981. Their debut album, “Beauty and the Beat,” was launched on July 24, 1981, and was a surprise hit. Produced by Rob Freeman and Richard Gottehrer, the album raced up the Billboard 200 chart and eventually peaked at No. 1 where it stayed for six weeks. The success made The Go-Go's the first all female band to write their own songs, play their own music and to top the Billboard album charts. The album received double platinum certification from RIAA and also enjoyed success in Australia and Canada. The single “Our Lips Are Sealed” peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 10 on the Billboard Club Play Singles and No. 15 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts and made the Top 10 in Canada and Australia. The second single, “We Got the Beat,” (1982) was also a hit for The Go-Go's and spent three weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold by RIAA and CRIA. The song also rose to No. 7 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks. With the success of their debut album, Carlisle and her group began collecting a cult following. Their reputation was cemented when they received a 1982 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.
The sophomore album “Vacation” followed on August 11, 1982. The album peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 and earned gold certification in the U.S. It rose to No. 23 in Canada, but failed to hit the Top 50 in Australia and the U.K. The Go-Go's scored their second Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with the title track, where it went to No. 8. The follow up singles “Get Up and Go” and “He's So Strange” were considered minor hits for the group. The Go-Go's were then forced to take a break when their drummer underwent surgery for a congenital heart defect. In 1983, the group earned their next Grammy nomination for Best Packaging for their “Vacation” LP.
In 1984, Carlisle ventured to acting when she landed a small role in the Jonathan Demme directed drama film “Swing Shift,” starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. The same year, she also provided backup vocals for the Don Henley recording of “She's on the Zoom” from the “Vision Quest” soundtrack. She was not reunited with The Go-Go's until they worked on the album “Talk Show.” Released on July 13, 1984, for their new producer Martin Rushent, the album peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard 200 and sold less than 500,000 pieces. Although a commercial failure, the album managed to produce the No. 11 single “Head over Heels” (1984). The singles “Turn to You” and “Yes or No” peaked at No. 32 and No. 84, respectively, on the Billboard Hot 100.
The disappointment, combined with conflicts, creative differences and some band members' drug use, led to the departure of Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Go's in October 1984. Paula Jean Brown joined the group in 1985 as their new bassist with Valentine moving to lead guitar. After the new lineup made their debut at the 1985 Rock in Rio festival, The Go-Go's disbanded in May.
After the breakup of The Go-Go's, Carlisle pursued a solo career. Her first solo album, “Belinda,” was released on June 3, 1986, on I.R.S. Records with Michael Lloyd serving as the producer. The album received mixed reviews from critics but was a hit with audiences. It went gold in the U.S. (#13) and platinum in Canada (#24). The lead single “Mad About You,” which was co-written by Paula Jean Brown, rose to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at No. 1 in Canada and No. 9 in Australia. It was followed by the minor hit “I Feel Magic,” which peaked at No. 82 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Band of Gold,” a cover version of Freda Payne, charted in Canada (#91).
Released under MCA Records/Virgin on October 5, 1987, and produced by Rick Nowels, the album “Heaven on Earth” marked a breakthrough album for Carlisle as a soloist. The album went to No. 13 on the Billboard 200 and also charted in Norway (#1), Sweden (#3), the U.K. (#4), Switzerland (#4) and Canada (#13). It went multi platinum in the U.K. and Canada and platinum in the U.S. It was also nominated for a Grammy award. “Heaven on Earth” produced hits with the songs “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” which rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the charts in many other countries, “Circle in the Sand” (#7 U.S., #4 U.K.) and the Diane Warren written “I Get Weak” (#2 U.S., #4 Canada). “Heaven is a Place on Earth” became Carlisle's only U.S. No. 1 hit single with or without The Go-Go's.
Carlisle's third album, “Runaway Horses,” hit the music stores on October 17, 1989. It was certified gold in the U.S. (#37 on the Billboard 200), double platinum in Australia and platinum in such countries as the U.K., where it charted at No. 4. The album produced six singles with “Leave a Light On” (#11 US, #4 U.K.), “La Luna” (#38 U.K.), “Summer Rain” (#30 US, #23 U.K.), “Runaway Horses” (#40 U.K.), “Vision of You” (#41 U.K.) and “(We Want) the Same Thing” (#6 U.K.).
Along with her first solo albums, Carlisle also had songs featured on film soundtracks. She performed “Shot in the Dark” for “Out of Bounds” (1986), “In My Wildest Dreams” for “Mannequin” (1987), “Dancing In The City” for “Burglar” (1987) and “I Feel Free” for “License to Drive” (1988). Her songs have since appeared in many other movie soundtracks, including “The Harvest” (1992), “American Wedding” (2003), “Two If by Sea” (1996), “13 Going on 30” (2004), “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” (2008) and “Love Hurts” (2009).
After five years, Carlisle was reunited with The Go-Go's for a tour to support the group's album “Greatest.” “Cool Jerk,” a cover of the popular 1966 hit by The Capitols, charted on the U.K. Singles chart at No. 60. Carlisle released her fourth solo album, “Live Your Life Be Free,” on October 14, 1991. The album did not chart in the U.S., but enjoyed success in the U.K. where it received gold certification.
Carlisle released “The Best of Belinda, Volume 1,” a collection of her hits from 1986 to 1991, in 1992. The album rose to No. 1 in the U.K. On September 23, 1993, she released the album “Real,” the follow up to “Live Your Life Be Free.” Released under Virgin Records, it rose to No. 9 in the U.K. and charted on the Top 30 in Japan and Sweden. She co-wrote six out of 10 songs included in the albums, most notably the Top 12 U.K. hit “Big Scary Animal.” The album also produced the U.K. Top 30 hit single “Lay Down Your Arms,” which was previously recorded by The Graces.
In 1994, Carlisle was reunited again with The Go-Go's for the compilation album “Return to the Valley of The Go-Go's,” which was released on October 18, 1994. It featured three new songs, including the single “The Whole World Lost Its Head,” which charted at No. 29 on the U.K. Singles Charts. Shortly after a tour, the group broke up again and did not reunite until 1999. They have since toured regularly. In 2000, the group released the third compilation album “VH1 Behind the Music: Go-Go's Collection.” A year later, on May 15, 2001, Carlisle and the group released “God Bless The Go-Go's,” the group's first studio album since 1984. The album was met with a mixed reception but peaked at No. 57 on the Billboard 200. The first single, “Unforgiven,” rose to No. 22 on the Billboard Adult Top 40.
Meanwhile, Carlisle continued to pursue her solo career. Having moved to Europe, she released the studio album “A Woman and a Man” in England on September 23, 1996, under Chrysalis Records. It later received gold certification and was released in the U.S. in 1997 on the Ark 21 Records label. The album spawned the singles “In Too Deep” (#6 U.K.), “Always Breaking My Heart” (#8 U.K.), “Love in the Key of C” (#20 U.K.) and “California” (#31 U.K.). Carlisle followed it up with the album “Voilà,” which was released on February 5, 2007, in Europe and February 6, 2007, in the North America. In between the albums, she released a string of compilations albums, including “The Greatest” (1998), “A Place on Earth: The Greatest Hits” (1999), “The Collection” (2002) and “The
Essential (The Best of Belinda Volume 1 reissue)” (2003). She had two more compilation albums with “Belinda Carlisle Collection” (2008) and “Belinda Carlisle - Heaven On Earth (Special Edition, with bonus tracks and DVD” (2009).
Recently, in October 2009, Carlisle appeared on stage in the London West End production of “Hairspray.” She played the role of Velma von Tussle.