- Category : Singer - Popular
- Type : GP
- Profile : 1/3 - Investigating / Martyr
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Contagion 3
Belinda Carlisle, 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 & roll band The Go-Go's and also a successful solo artist.
Early career and The Go-Go's
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 80's, helping to usher "new wave music" into popular American radio and becoming the first all-female band in rock history to achieve a #1 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 multi-platinum debut, Beauty and the Beat, which featured the hits "We Got the Beat" and "Our Lips Are Sealed".
The antics of The Go-Go's in the early- to mid-1980s contrasted with their public image. Since then, the group's notoriety from that time period had become something of a legend, involving drugs and sex. Years later, in a 2007 interview with PlanetOut, Carlisle said that the band had female groupies and said, "Well, without going into too much detail ... I think all of us in the band, we've all had ... we've all seen the experience you are probably wondering about. And, yeah, like I said, without going into too much detail, we've all been there and done that."
Carlisle left the Go-Go's in 1985 to embark on a solo career (although she continued to work with fellow Go-Go Charlotte Caffey). Carlisle's first solo album, Belinda, was released on I.R.S. Records in 1986. Her #3 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 Top-10 success of "Mad About You", it helped secure her a series of Agree shampoo ads.
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.
Heaven 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 1960s-influenced pop of Carlisle's first album for slickly produced 1980s power-pop. Carlisle's revised 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", which topped the pop charts not only in the U.S. but also in the UK and other countries. (The dance mix of the song also topped the dance chart.) It remains, to date, Carlisle's only #1 hit as a solo artist. The radio-ready song was further propelled by a video directed by Academy Award-winning American actress Diane Keaton. The second release from Heaven on Earth was the #2 smash "I Get Weak," written by Diane Warren; it was accompanied by another Keaton-directed video. The third single and video from the album was "Circle in the Sand," a Top 10 hit in the US the UK and Europe too. "World Without You" was another European hit, followed by 1988's low-charting ballad "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.
Carlisle's follow-up to the success of Heaven on Earth was "Runaway Horses" of October 23, 1989. The album hit #4 in the UK and #37 in the US. The first release, "Leave a Light On", missed the Top 10 in the U.S., peaking at #11, but in the UK, it hit #4. The song features a slide guitar solo by George Harrison (see Greatest Hits). The second US single, "Summer Rain" reached #30 in Spring 1990. The song, which Carlisle noted was the most difficult song she had ever sung up to that point, peaked at #6 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 further success in the UK in autumn later that year when she went to #6 with a remix of "(We Want) The Same Thing."
In the late autumn 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 cover song "Cool Jerk". A notable feature of the tour was an anti-fur campaign, where the band members supported People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization. Later in the year, Carlisle joined with The Smithereens lead singer Pat Dinizio on his group's ballad "Blue Period."
Live Your Life Be Free
In 1991, Carlisle released her fourth solo album, Live Your Life Be Free. The album marked somewhat of a return to 1960s-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 1960s 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 #9 in the UK and its first single "It's Too Real (Big Scary Animal)" reached a respectable #12 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.
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.
A Woman and a Man
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 10 for the first time in six years, reaching #6."Always Breaking My Heart", written and produced by Roxette's Per Gessle, peaked at #8. 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 #7 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 much success in the U.S.
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 released exclusively in France and Germany.
In 1999, Carlisle released a greatest hits album in the UK, 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 some of her hits. Some of the remixes were done by William Orbit, who also worked with Madonna on her 1998 "Ray of Light" album.
In 2007, the singer released her seventh album Voila, which was her first solo studio work of full album length in over ten years. The album was produced by John Reynolds. Consisting of a mix of French pop tunes and chanson standards, including covers of Françoise Hardy and Édith Piaf classics. Voila was released via Rykodisc in the U.K. on 5 February 2007 and in the U.S. the following day.
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 performed with Freda Payne when Carlisle covered Payne's classic hit "Band of Gold." As mentioned above, 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 album. Belinda performed backing vocals on Then Jerico's album Big Area on the track "What Does it Take?", She also performed back vocals on The Smithereens album 11 for the track "Blue Period".
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 album. Another notable collaboration was the one with the ambient mastermind and legend Brian Eno who played the keyboards in her latest release Voila.
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". They have a son James Duke Mason (born April 27, 1992). She has been reported as being "deeply into Buddhist chanting", though precisely what form is unclear.
In an interview printed on March 7, 2007, the singer stated that "I was wondering about happiness and started reading a lot of books by the Dalai Lama, and slowly embraced Buddhism" (published by Newindpress, India). On Sydney Morning Herald: ""I don't smoke anymore, I don't drink any more and I don't do drugs any more. I am very much into my Buddhism. I found turning 40 a real passage in time for me" "I grew up in a strict Christian family and (was) forced to go to church every Sunday and religion never clicked with me. I just felt that there was something else, but I never found it, but now I am certain I have".
In August 2001, Carlisle posed nude for the men's magazine Playboy. The then-42-year-old told ABC: "You don't have to be age 20 and size 0 to be sexually viable or viable as a woman." Some speculate she posed to promote the newly reformed Go-Go's 2001 album God Bless the Go-Go's but Carlisle asserts that the photo shoot was just a good opportunity to celebrate her pin-up girl curves and make a statement. Carlisle also stated that the Playboy pictorial was lucrative.
Since their late 1990s reconciliation and 2001 reunion, the Go-Go's have continued playing and touring together almost every summer. In recent years Carlisle 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 continued 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 7 episode.