I woke up last Wednesday (Feb. 10) to the amazing news that The Go-Go’s, of which my mother Belinda Carlisle is a founding member, had finally been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after 15 years of eligibility. I felt a strong sense of relief and satisfaction, as for a long time now — especially since a documentary on the band (The Go-Go’s) premiered at Sundance last year and was released to rave reviews — there had been a sense of confusion and frustration for myself and many others as to why these revolutionary ladies had not yet gotten their due respect and recognition.
Growing up as the son of the group’s lead singer, I always assumed that people knew and understood why The Go-Go’s were so important — not only for female musicians, but for music and history more broadly. This was a true, bona fide rock n’ roll band, completely organic and formed by themselves — not by some male Svengali — who rose out of the L.A. punk scene in the late 1970s and struggled to get a record deal despite their popularity simply because they were women.
Within two years of forming, their first album, Beauty and the Beat, hit No. 1 (a feat only a very small group of artists, including The Beatles, have achieved) and became one of the highest selling debut albums of all time. They were the first, and are still the only, all-female rock band who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to have a No. 1 album. Ever. Period.
I thought people were aware of these facts, but it seems until the release of the documentary that many were still in the dark. For some there seemed to be a superficial perception of The Go-Go’s music as “bubblegum pop” without recognizing the substance of the melodies or the complicated, sometimes dark lyrics.
Rolling Stone declared their 1981 single “Our Lips Are Sealed” as one of the top 100 pop songs of all time, and also declared Beauty and the Beat as one of the top 500 albums ever. So I guess some, but not enough, were aware of their contributions to music history. It seems the doc did a great service in providing more information and context to Hall of Fame voters, and also framed the importance of the band in this era of feminism we live in with the rise of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements.
Amazing to think that The Go-Go’s would be the first and only all-female rock band in the Hall; not only that but they would be inducting five women at once, all of whom would be likely to vote (once they are members) for more female inductees in the future. Given that the percentage of female inductees and nominees is still very low, I think this is incredibly important.
The other day I went on the official RRHOF Facebook page where they have posted blurbs on each of the nominees and the link for fans to vote for their favorites. On the blurb about The Go-Go’s I scrolled down to look at the comments and was shocked by what I saw: strong, unashamed expressions of sexism and misogyny expressed solely by men, of course. On the other hand, I saw comments in response from women saying that the nomination was long overdue and how important it was that the band be inducted on their first go.
What a statement, the women said, it would make that women matter and deserve their place in music and in the world as a whole. They couldn’t be more right. Let’s send a message and make history later this year.