Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine and Jane Wiedlin earned tonight’s honor in part by becoming the first – and still only – all-female group to write and record a No. 1 album. The Go-Go’s played “Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed” and a thunderous rendition of “We Got the Beat,” before speaking.
“Well, we’ve been at it 43 years – go figure!” said Wiedlin, who at one point acted out an exploding skull. Carlisle and Coffey thanked a number of industry figures who helped the band along the way, while Schock praised their family. “The people we are most grateful for are the fans who’ve been with us for four decades,” Wiedlin added. “Four decades! And you keep coming back. We wouldn’t be anything with you.”
Rising out of Los Angeles’ late-’70s punk scene, the Go-Go’s transformed into one of the biggest groups of the early-MTV era on the strength of poppier songs like “Head Over Heels” – and accompanying videos that combined their growing knack for hooks with fearless attitude and playfulness.
Still, nothing came easy: The Go-Go’s have been nominated for just one Grammy and have never won. They were eligible for the Rock Hall for 15 years before earning their first nomination. But they got to have a celebrated second act after breaking up too soon, adding one more studio effort in 2001’s God Bless the Go-Go’s to three classic-era albums before finally earning their long-awaited entry into the hall.
Valentine admitted tonight that they’d ended up “getting divorced and remarried,” but ultimately emerged as a “sisterhood.”
They made the most of their short time on the international stage, scoring a double-platinum debut album, a gold-selling Top 10 follow-up and a Top 20 finale. They also had five Top 40 singles, including a pair of Top 10 hits and another that just missed at No. 11.
Beyond creating the celebrated Beauty and the Beat, the Go-Go’s had a sweeping influence on subsequent groups like Best Coast and Sleater-Kinney – the latter of whom spoke glowingly of the group in pre-taped comments. They also helped open the door for Green Day, Blink-182 and Nirvana by becoming early popularizers of pop-punk.
Hall organizers have clearly been working to become more inclusive, inducting Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson and Joan Jett in 2019-20. A year later, they unveiled the most woman-focused ballot in history, with seven female nominees – 11, if you include each individual member of the Go-Go’s.
“By recognizing our achievement, the Rock Hall celebrates possibility – the kind of possibility that creates hopeful dreamers,” Valentine added. “The Go-Go’s will be advocating for the inclusion of more women.”
Their induction tonight could have other repercussions if the Rock Hall then opens its doors to criminally overlooked fellow denizens of the Los Angeles punk scene like Black Flag, X, Devo (an Ohio band that moved out West) and the Germs.
The 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air on Nov. 20 on HBO alongside a radio simulcast on SiriusXM Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Radio.
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