Jane Wiedlin Recounts Forming The Go-Go's in 'Under the Big Black Sun' Audiobook Excerpt: Exclusive

Courtesy Photo
John Doe and Jane Wiedlin.

New York's CBGB-centric punk scene has been endlessly written about over the years, and to a much lesser extent, the Los Angeles punk scene from the same era has been fairly well documented.

But the recently released Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk is something different -- and vital. Pulled together by X's John Doe -- one of the scene's key players -- and Tom DeSavia, Under the Big Black Sun taps the L.A. punk scene's singers, guitarists and scenesters to tell the story of how so many remarkable bands exploded out of Hollywood's at-the-time dangerous, festering ruins.

The Go-Go's to Play the 2016 Billboard Music Awards

The book includes chapters and essays written by punk legends such as Henry Rollins, Exene Cervenka, Mike Watt, Dave Alvin, and many more (plus an introduction by Billie Joe Armstrong). Equally exciting, the audiobook of Under the Big Black Sun is read by the authors and contributors -- in other words, you get to hear these firsthand accounts told by the punk musicians who were actually there.

Today, Billboard is exclusively sharing an audiobook excerpt from Under the Big Black Sun of The Go-Go's Jane Wiedlin (who contributed to the book along with bandmate Charlotte Caffey) sharing the story of how her band formed and what the scene was like back then. Listen below. 

After watching so many of her punk peers start bands in the late '70s, Wiedlin recalls, "Eventually it became painfully obvious that you needed no prior knowledge to form a punk band and that we were the only kids left who hadn’t done so." So she and a few friends set about starting the Go-Go's, figuring "we were perfectly capable of being just as incompetent as anyone else."

In addition to recollections of practicing in a "spooky as fuck" basement, Wiedlin remembers one strange night where she attended an emotionally fraught X concert. The band had just learned Exene Cervenka's sister died in a car crash on the way to the show, and Wiedlin -- who was there not as a "friend…but [as] part of the tribe" -- started cutting herself "in the midst of the insane tragedy… to distract myself from the horror of it all."

That's just one of the many strange, honest stories in this book. You can check out the audiobook here via Random House Audio.

In contemporary Go-Go's news, the band is set to perform at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their seminal hit "We Got the Beat."