Happy Birthday, Belinda Carlisle!

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It's inevitable that when singers leave bands with which they started, anything they do in their solo career will inevitably get compared to those earlier efforts. Rod Stewart may have proved an exception, but we'd wager that even such icons as Mick Jagger, Roger Daltrey, and Sting will always find themselves overshadowed by their role in the Stones, the Who, and the Police, respectively. Thus, Belinda Carlisle, who turns 53 today, will always be remembered for her role at the helm of the Go-Go's -- decidedly a better outfit than the Bangles -- despite an impressive solo stint spanning 25 years, seven albums, and several hit singles. Consequently, we'd like to offer Carlisle encouragement and point out just some of her individual accomplishments we think are worthy of recognition:

• Not surprisingly, Carlisle was once a cheerleader. It must have been perfect on-the-job training as evidenced by those Go-Go's videos from the early '80s. FYI, she was also the original drummer in the L.A. punk band the Germs, performing under the name Dottie Danger. Hmmm... Kudos for switching day jobs early on. 

• Belinda branched out into acting, proving that she's more than simply a singer. She had a bit role in the movie Swing Shift with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell in 1984, and more recently, she played the role of Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray on London's West End. She's also made her mark (sort of) on several reality TV programs. Sadly, though, she hasn't fared all that well with the latter. She was quickly voted off the U.K. show Hell's Kitchen and suffered a similar fate on the eighth season of Dancing With the Stars, when she was eliminated in the first round. Oh well. Give her points for trying.. 

• In the early '80s, Carlisle famously dated baseball player Mike Marshall of the Los Angeles Dodgers. They broke up, and now she's happily married to Morgan Mason, a former special presidential assistant and son of distinguished actor James Mason. Nice perk, to have one of the world's most renowned thespians appearing in your videos. 

• Belinda's a Buddhist, and she reportedly chants daily. We find that a nice remedy for a woman whose early onstage mantra was "We Got the Beat." On the other hand, if a serious Buddhist is bound to a vow of silence, the Go-Go's' other signature song, "Our Lips Are Sealed," might well be in sync with her current religious regimen. 

• In January 2009, Carlisle was named spokeswoman for NutriSystem. Kudos to both parties for clinching that deal. Fact is, we find that a far cooler choice than Marie Osmond. And a far hipper one as well... Whoa! We're not referring to their respective body parts! 

• The Go-Go's aren't quite gone-gone, as evidenced by their recent South Florida appearance at the Hard Rock, not to mention the expanded 30th anniversary reissue of the band's debut album, Beauty and the Beat, that, by the way, boasts an entire second disc of seminal live performances. But while the Stones will likely soldier on into their 70s, we suspect that Belinda understands that the life of a Go-Go girl doesn't necessary play out well for a woman in her 50s. 

• She supports People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and she posed nude on the cover of Playboy ten years ago while in her early 40s. OK, the two things have absolutely nothing in common, but from our point of view, the two activities are both worth admiring. 

• If it's true you're known for the company you keep, then Carlisle has lots of cred. Lindsey Buckingham, George Harrison, Thomas Dolby, Andy Taylor of Duran Duran, William Orbit, and Carnie Wilson have all contributed to her efforts. Really -- who knew? 

• It takes determination to survive in the music biz, and given the fact she's been involved with no fewer than half a dozen record labels, suffice it to say Belinda's got balls. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Follow County Grind on Facebook and Twitter: @CountyGrind. 

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