“Can you hear them? They talk about us—telling lies, that’s no surprise…”
The triumph of all-girl bands The Go-Gos and The Bangles in the 1980s meant record-breaking success for women artists, but today the two bands seem to be interchangeable in the minds of many. In actuality, the groups were very different from each other, and followed two distinct paths.
The Go-Gos formed in 1978, and were originally a hardcore punk rock band. Consisting of members Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Kathy Valentine, Charlotte Caffey, and Gina Schock, the band played venues in Los Angeles as part of the growing west coast punk movement. Belinda Carlisle was featured as the lead singer, while their songs were largely written by Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin (separately and as a team). Caffey and Wiedlin wrote catchy songs, and their early hardcore sound slowly evolved into something slightly poppier. After a tour of England in 1980, their early, primitive recording of “We Got The Beat” became a minor hit there. In 1981, they signed a recording deal with I.R.S. records, and their fortunes (and image) were about to change.
The Bangles also got their start in Los Angeles, forming in 1981. Originally called The Bangs, their sound placed them in the Paisley Underground movement, and they were heavily influenced by 1960s L.A. bands like The Mamas and The Papas, The Merry-Go-Round, and Love. The band frequently covered songs by these and other vintage bands in their live shows, and on future albums. Members Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, Michael Steele, and Vicki Peterson generally shared lead vocal duties and songwriting credits. Their early songs were collected and released on an E.P. in 1982, and they shot a video for their song “The Real World”. These songs brought the band to the attention of major record labels, and soon The Bangles were signed to Columbia Records. Their success would take a little longer to come, but the band was ready to go.
TO BE CONTINUED…