, born Belinda Jo Carlisle (also known as Belinda Kurczeski); on August 17, 1958 in Hollywood, California, is the lead vocalist and a founding member of the all-female rock and roll band The Go-Go's
and also a successful solo artist.Carlisle's
first venture into music was a brief stint as drummer for the punk band The Germs
under the name Dottie Danger
, although illness prevented her from ever performing with them live. Soon after leaving this band she founded The Go-Go's
(originally named The Misfits
) with friend and fellow music novice Jane Wiedlin. With bassist-turned-guitarist Charlotte Caffey, guitarist-turned-bassist Kathy Valentine, and drummer Gina Schock, The Go-Go's
became one of the most successful American bands of the early 80s, ushering in the "new wave" era of American radio and becoming the first all-female band in rock history to achieve a Number One album, who also wrote their own music and played their own instruments. The Go-Go's
recorded two more studio albums (including Vacation
, which went gold thanks to the title track). "Head over Heels," from the album Talk Show
, made the Top 40, but they never repeated the success of their multiplatinum debut, Beauty and the Beat
, which featured the hits "We Got the Beat" and "Our Lips Are Sealed."
Carlisle left The Go-Go's
in 1985 to embark on a solo career. Her first solo album, Belinda
, was released on I.R.S. Records in 1986. Number Three summer hit "Mad About You" was followed by the Motown-influenced single "I Feel The Magic." Although this second solo single did not repeat the success "Mad About You", it brought her a series of Agree shampoo commercials and ads, the first of numerous lucrative endorsement deals.
During this time, Carlisle also had songs featured on movie soundtracks, notably "In My Wildest Dreams," the opener in the movie "Mannequin," as well as "Dancing in the City" from the Whoopi Goldberg movie, "Burglar."
In 1986 Carlisle married Morgan Mason, son of the British actor James Mason. Morgan made appearances in Carlisle's videos "Mad About You" and "Heaven Is a Place on Earth".
Carlisle underwent yet another metamorphosis for her second solo album, trading her California Girl blonde bob for long auburn hair for 1987's Heaven on Earth
, (released in the United States through MCA and in the United Kingdom through Virgin). The musical style eschewed the '60's-influenced pop of Belinda's first album for slickly-produced 80's power-pop. Some dismissed the new album as being confection, albeit a stylistically focused and successful one. The new sonic style was due to producer Rick Nowels, who had previously worked with Stevie Nicks and who would later collaborate with Madonna
The first release from Heaven on Earth
was "Heaven Is a Place on Earth", an international smash, topping the pop charts not only in the U.S. but also in the UK and around the globe. The dance mix of the song also topped the dance chart. It was Carlisle's only Number One hit as a solo artist. The radio-ready song was further propelled by a video directed by American actress and friend Diane Keaton. The second release from Heaven on Earth
was the Number Two smash ballad "I Get Weak," written by Diane Warren and accompanied by another memorable Keaton-directed video. The third single and video from the album was "Circle in the Sand," a Top Ten hit with a throwback, Shangri-La's
inspired sound. "World Without You" was another European hit, followed by 1988's "Love Never Dies" in the UK. In the U.S., the fourth single, "I Feel Free," a cover of the Cream
classic, missed the Top 40 but was a popular dance track.
Carlisle's follow-up to the mega-success of Heaven on Earth
was Runaway Horses
of October 23, 1989. Imagery of mythic centaurs and green earth, accompanied by a sensual photo by famous photographer Herb Ritts, replaced the previous album's celestial globes and sky cover and the album hit Number Four in the UK and Number 37 in the US. The first release, "Leave a Light On", missed the Top Ten in the U.S., peaking at Number Eleven, but in the UK it hit the Top Five reaching at Number Four. The song features a slide guitar solo by George Harrison. The second US single, "Summer Rain", missed the Top 20 (Number 30) in Spring 1990, but spent time in the Top 75 and sold satisfactorily. A dance mix was again a success for Carlisle. The song peaked at Number Six in Australia where it has maintained popularity, and the tune saw a cover version in 2004 by the Australian group Slinkee Minx
. "Summer Rain" and "La Luna" were hits in Europe too, but minor hits in the UK peaking at Numbers 23 and 38 respectively in 1990. Carlisle had better success in the UK in autumn later that year when she went to Number Six with the remixed "(We Want) The Same Thing."
In the late fall of 1990, The Go-Go's
reunited for a tour to support their greatest-hits album Go Go's Greatest
, including a new recording of the song "Cool Jerk". A notable feature of the tour was an anti-fur campaign, where the bandmembers supported People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization. Later in the year, Carlisle duetted with The Smithereens'
lead singer Pat Dinizio on his group's well-regarded ballad, "Blue Period."
In 1991, Carlisle released her fourth solo album, Live Your Life Be Free
. The album marked somewhat of a return to 60's-influenced music for Carlisle. The single "Do You Feel Like I Feel?" was accompanied by a tongue-in-cheek video inspired by the B-movie "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman." The title track "Live Your Life Be Free" merged 60's influences with producer Rick Nowel's trademark bombast, and featured a video that emphasized colorful imagery, fashion, and Carlisle's photogenic face. Subsequent releases, "Half the World" and "Little Black Book" were also hits outside the U.S. Although the album did not sell as well as her three previous releases in U.S., it did have some success in Europe as well as featuring two songs co-penned by Carlisle herself.
Carlisle's fifth solo album, Real
, was released 1993 on the Virgin label in the U.S. and in Europe. Produced without Nowels, the disc was a departure from Carlisle's polished pop music formula. Gone was her glamorous image and picture-perfect pop. Even the album's cover photograph featured her with very little make-up. Carlisle co-produced and co-wrote much of the disc, collaborating heavily with friend and former Go-Go's
member Charlotte Caffey. The album reached Number Nine in the UK and its first single, "It's Too Real (Big Scary Animal)" reached a respectable Number Twelve placing in the UK, but failed to dent the U.S. charts. The second single from Real
was "Lay Down Your Arms," which made the Top 30 in the UK, but did not fare well in other territories, hence, it was noticeably absent from Carlisle's second greatest-hits album. Although the album was not a huge commercial success, fans and critics who prefer her work with the Go-Go's
regard it as her best and most introspective work to date.
At this time, Carlisle also recorded "One by One" on the soundtrack of the 1993 movie "The Harvest".
After the Northridge Earthquake in 1994, Carlisle and her family moved to Europe, settling in the South of France. The Go-Go's
reunited again later that year to support the retrospective double-CD, Return to the Valley of The Go-Go's
, which included three new songs, however the band broke up after the promotional tour. Carlisle has since lived in France and England.
Carlisle returned to the recording studio and resumed working again with Rick Nowels. In 1996, she released in the UK and Australia her sixth solo album, A Woman and a Man
, on the Chrysalis Records label. This album, comprised mostly of relaxed adult pop, revitalized her solo career in Europe and included several hits. The leadoff single "In Too Deep" returned Carlisle to the UK Top Ten for the first time in six years, reaching Number Six. "Always Breaking My Heart", written and produced by Roxette's
Per Gessle, peaked at Number Eight. The album spawned two more UK hits, "Love in the Key of C" and "California"; the latter a bittersweet reflection on why the singer left her home in the Golden State. Another track of the album never released as a single was "He goes on" written by Crowded House's
Neil Finn. The album reached at Number Seven in the UK. As a result of A Woman and A Man's
UK success, the album was released in the U.S. during the summer of 1997 on the Ark21 label. Despite the promotional appearances Carlisle made on American television and radio, the album did not enjoy the same level of success in the U.S. as it did in the UK.
In 1997, Carlisle also recorded the song "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)" from Disney's Hercules
as part of that movie's standard distribution in Europe. The single was only released in France and Germany.
In 1999, Carlisle released another greatest hits album in the UK, this time a double-disc on the Virgin label. Carlisle recorded three new tracks for the album, including the single "All God's Children", and the tracks "A Prayer for Everyone" and "Feels Like I've Known You Forever". The second disc of her A Place on Earth
greatest hits album contained remixes of her hits. Some of the remixes were done by William Orbit who also worked with Madonna
on her 1998 Ray of Light
During her solo career, Carlisle has had the opportunity to work with numerous prominent musicians from the 1960s. Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas
did backup singing for Heaven on Earth
; Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys
arranged and sang back-up on "California" from A Woman and A Man
. She performed live with her idols The Beach Boys
, and duetted with Freda Payne when Carlisle covered Payne's classic hit, "Band of Gold." Ex-Beatle
George Harrison contributed guitar work to the single, "Leave a Light On", as well as the song, "Deep Deep Ocean", both tracks found on the Runaway Horses
She also worked with noted musicians of her own generation, such as Duran Duran's
Andy Taylor on her debut solo album Belinda
(Taylor appears in her "Mad About You" video clip); Thomas Dolby played the keyboards in some Heaven on Earth
tracks; and Bryan Adams did backup vocals in "Whatever It Takes" from the Runaway Horses
Since their late '90's reconciliation and 2001 reunion, The Go-Go's
have continued playing and touring together almost every summer. In recent years Belinda has continued making singing and non-singing television appearances. She has been a frequent guest on music-related programs and she appeared on a celebrity edition of ABC's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" In 2004 she appeared on the ITV1 reality show Hell's Kitchen
as one of ten celebrity chefs competing against one another. She has also appeared on the ITV1 reality show 'Hit Me Baby One More Time', where she sang a cover of Coldplay's
hit, 'The Scientist' as well as her own 'Heaven Is a Place on Earth'.
Carlisle continues her string of TV appearances in 2006, having signed to appear on the Simon Cowell-produced Celebrity Duets
, a FOX network reality competition pairing celebrities not famous for singing (like Lucy Lawless and Cheech Marin) with actual singers like Carlisle, Michael Bolton, Jon Secada and Macy Gray. Carlisle sang "Heaven is a Place on Earth" and "I Get Weak" with Lea Thompson in the September 7th episode.
Carlisle returns in 2007, with the release of her seventh album, Voila
(Rykodisc), her first solo studio work in ten years. The album is produced by John Reynolds and is a mix of French chanson and modern pop songs.