When the Go-Go’s scored a hit with their 1982 single “Vacation,” the song’s music video became an MTV mainstay. Little did viewers know, the band was “cross-eyed drunk” while filming the clip.
The song was originally penned by the band’s bassist, Kathy Valentine, several years prior. She’d enjoyed a brief romance with a young man while on a trip, and wrote the tune’s initial lyrics on the plane ride home.
“The short romance had softened me, and the words, written from true-life longing, resonated forever,” Valentine later recalled in her memoir.
The bassist had been in a group called the Textones, and it was they who originally released “Vacation” in 1979. The song garnered little attention at the time, and Valentine joined the Go-Go’s in 1980.
The band’s 1981 LP, Beauty and the Beat, was a huge success, going two times platinum and scoring a pair of Top 20 hits. When the Go-Go’s went to work on their 1982 follow-up, Valentine suggested revisiting “Vacation.”
“We really loved the song, but it didn’t really have a chorus,” Go-Go’s co-founder Jane Wiedlin recalled to SongFacts. “So Charlotte [Caffey] and I ended up working with Kathy a little bit more on the song, and sort of Go-Go-fying it, basically adding the chorus.”
Released June 26, 1982, “Vacation” would become the title track and first single from the group’s second album. And while making its music video, the Go-Go’s got a little goofy.
“It was a big-budget video because by that time we were really popular,” Wiedlin explained. “So we had a lot of money to do the video, which was the first time for us, because the other videos we just spent, like $5,000 on or something. It was fun, but it was a way of working that we weren’t accustomed to. And I remember it being a really long day, like a 14-hour day, and about eight hours into it we all were getting really bored and restless, so we started drinking.”
Watch the Go-Go’s Music Video for ‘Vacation’
“We drank champagne. Lots of champagne. Lots,” Valentine admitted in the book I Want My MTV.
The clip featured the band in two locations – an airport terminal, and waterskiing in formation. The latter was staged using a blue screen — an already cheesy medium that the band’s inebriation only enhanced.
“By the time they shot the scene where we’re on the water skis, skiing one-handed and waving and stuff, we were all really looped,” Wiedlin confessed. “It’s so funny, if you look at us, look in our eyes in those parts, we’re all like cross-eyed drunk.”
“Vacation” peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard chart, scoring the Go-Go’s yet another hit. However, behind the scenes fame was beginning to have an affect on the group, and the Vacation album was met with lower sales and mixed critical reviews compared to its predecessor. “Vacation” would be the Go-Go’s final song to reach the Top 10, and by ’85 the group had disbanded.
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