Known for quintessential ’80s hits like “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed,” the Go-Go’s remain the only all-female band who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to have a No. 1 album on the Billboard charts.
Born in 1978 in the anything-goes L.A. punk rock scene, the Go-Go’s were rough and raw misfit musicians performing in underground clubs. But the band got its spark when guitarist Charlotte Caffey — inspired during a midnight viewing of The Twilight Zone — wrote “We Got the Beat” in five minutes. The pop-punk hybrid gave the Go-Go’s the hook they needed, and soon after they toured in England with Madness and the Specials, and they signed a record deal with Miles Copeland’s I.R.S. Records. Their videos became fixtures on the burgeoning MTV, and the band’s 1981 debut album, Beauty and the Beat, reached No. 1 and stayed there for six weeks.
But the Go-Go’s couldn’t avoid the classic Behind the Music career arc. Commercial success led to tensions and infighting between members, further exacerbated by drug use, hard partying, creative differences and an exhausting touring schedule. The Go-Go’s acrimoniously broke up in 1985.
Director Alison Ellwood’s documentary film The Go-Go’s (premieres Friday, July 31 at 9pm ET/PT and reairs Saturday, Aug. 1, at 7:20pm ET/PT) features the band’s full participation, and a wealth of archival video, photos, music and interviews reveals the inside story of a group that opened the music industry’s eyes.