I’ve been bitching about the Go-Go’s not being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for years. They should’ve been first-ballot inductees, but nope; Bon Jovi is in there instead.
Now that I’ve ranted, let me tell you about The Go-Go’s, a super-fine documentary from director Alison Ellwood that covers the band from its punk-rock days up until the present. Yes, the group only made four albums, but when you are talking about trailblazers, you have to put the Go-Go’s at the forefront of rock ’n’ roll history.
The first all-female band that played their own instruments to have a No. 1 album (the classic Beauty and the Beat) started in the Los Angeles punk-rock scene—and they were one sloppy band. Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin were part of the original group, with Charlotte Caffey (guitar/keyboards), bassist Kathy Valentine and drummer Gina Schock joining soon thereafter. After witnessing a shitty Sex Pistols show, the girls decided that they should tighten up their act—and the pristine pop sounds of “Our Lips Our Sealed” and “We Got the Beat” soon arrived.
Ellwood, with full participation from the band, culls together great archival audio and video, along with fun interviews, to tell their stories. Caffey’s drug addiction, Schock’s health scare, and Wiedlin pulling a Pete Townshend and temporarily leaving the band did a lot to stall the Go-Go’s momentum, but they have reformed many times over the years. They had a Broadway show before the pandemic, and there are plans for more touring and music—so they have not called it quits.
This film proves over and over again that it’s time the band gets its place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, if the institution wants to be regarded as anything close to relevant. They were the first; they were one of the best; and their music is timeless. Long live the Go-Go’s!
The Go-Go’s is currently airing on Showtime, and is available on demand and via its streaming service.