There were other girl groups before them, but when the Go-Gos burst on the scene during punk’s prime in the late ‘70s, they did for rock ‘n’ roll what the suffragettes did for women’s rights in the early 1900s. Along with the Bangles, they shattered the stereotypes that dictated rock was a realm populated exclusively by machismo poseurs and players. They did so thanks to their ability to write their own songs and play all their own instruments. Their efforts quickly paid off, making them the first self-contained female band to top the Billboard charts. Early albums Beauty and the Beat and Vacation spawned giddy hit songs, including “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” and Vacation’s title track.
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“We had no goals as far as anything,” guitarist Charlotte Caffey reflects. “We were just having a crap-load of fun and it was really, really exciting, completely free and with no pressure whatsoever. Things happened to us as it all unfolded, and we made a record and songs got on the radio, and it was like getting struck by lightning. It doesn’t happen every day. We have always understood that and protected it. Even though we’ve had our differences, we still recognize how special this band is, and we’re really grateful for it.”
To date, the group has sold more than seven million albums, and the iconic lineup — Caffey, singer Belinda Carlisle, bassist Kathy Valentine, guitarist Jane Wiedlin, and drummer Gina Schock — came to represent the epitome of energy, exuberance, freedom, and fun. However, like many successful bands, both male and female, there was discord and disagreement lurking behind the scenes. Lawsuits and breakups put a halt to their trajectory, and while intermittent reunions have taken place over the years, the members’ various solo efforts still take precedent. “Like any band, we’ve had our internal struggles, blah, blah, blah,” Caffey suggests. “You’re in an intense situation and things happen. We’re in a good place right now, and we’re having fun and looking forward to touring. What we do onstage is great, and when people leave, they feel really good. That’s important, especially in the world today.”
The current series of shows is billed as a Farewell Tour, an outing originally scheduled for 2010 and then postponed due to an injury Carlisle sustained while hiking. Four of the five members will participate, with Valentine the only exception. “We’re just not going to be touring anymore,” Caffey insists. “We have other things we’re working on, and we may do a benefit date or something like that. It’s not like we’re never going to play together ever again.”
The Go-Gos. 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 3, at Au-Rene Theater at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Avenue, Fort Lauderdale; ticketmaster.com. Tickets cost $25-$115.