Back in the late 1970s, if you had have told erstwhile punk rocker Dottie Danger, one-time drummer for seminal LA punks the Germs and back-up singer for avant-punks Black Randy and the Metrosquad, that she would be part of one of the most successful girl groups of all time and have a hugely successful solo career, she probably would’ve laughed in your face.
Thankfully for us, she chose not to laugh too hard and eventually changed her name to Belinda Carlisle.
The rest, as the fellow said, is history.
“I guess I always thought that I shouldn’t be making a living out of this,” Carlisle said down the line from London.
“Back then, I never thought I’d be doing anything like this. I had a really hard time for quite a while accepting that this is what I’m supposed to be doing because it really is a dream job and not many people get to say that.”
For the uninitiated, Carlisle’s star first shot into the stratosphere with the all-girl band the Go Gos.
Carlisle, along with Jane Wiedlin, Margot Olavarria (and later Kathy Valentine) and Elissa Bello made history as the first all-girl group to top the Billboard charts with their incendiary slice of pure pop heaven, ‘Beauty and the Beat’.
The album spawned such memorable cuts as ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ and ‘We Got the Beat’, and sits in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500 albums of all time.
In fact, before the band parted ways in 1985 (reunions in the ’90s and a current tour in the works notwithstanding), they had sold an incredible seven million albums in just three years.
So strong was their hold on the public’s musical consciousness that, last year, the powers that be saw fit to award the Go Go’s their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – an achievement that held special resonance for the Hollywood-born Carlisle.
“That was a really emotional day,” she said.
“It was also really weird, because everybody dreams of having their name on the walk of fame, especially when you live in Hollywood, you know, it’s the Hollywood dream.”
Carlisle’s Hollywood dream did not end with the Go Go’s, however, with her debut solo record, ‘Belinda’, released just after the band’s breakup.
That album, helped by the hit ‘Mad About You’, was propelled to gold status in the US.
Carlisle said while she wasn’t daunted by the prospect of a solo career, it was still a refreshing change to break out on her own.
“I always had an opportunity for a solo career, so I wouldn’t say I was daunted by it,” she said.
“Although it was a big transition for me, I think I finally realised how big when I played my first live show, you know, no security blanket. Although it did feel really good breaking out on my own.”
Her follow-up ‘Heaven on Earth’ was an even bigger success with three US top 10s, including ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’, ‘I Get Weak’ and ‘Circle in the Sand’.
The success was helped, no doubt, by her obvious vocal talent and an all-American girl-next-door charm, but also by having such heavy hitters as Thomas Dolby, Michelle Phillips from the Mamas and the Papas, and Academy Award-winning songwriter Dianne Warren in her corner. Not to mention that screen icon Diane Keaton directed the video for ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’.
Now, with seven studio albums under her belt, stints on the West End (as Velma Von Tussle in ‘Hairspray’) and reality television (such as ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘Hell’s Kitchen’), Carlisle said she couldn’t imagine a life without performing.
“It’s just what I do, I just love it,” she said.
“In fact, I’m probably loving it even more now because I’m just doing it for the love of it. I don’t want to be involved
in that hamster wheel where you’re putting out albums because you have to.
“Although, in terms of reality TV, there’s just so much more pressure involved. ‘Dancing With the Stars’ was interesting because I thought it would be easy considering my performing background, but I ended up having a really tough time and the pressure was immense. So, no more reality for me.”
A huge crowd is expected to pack the EVAN Theatre for Belinda Carlisle’s Penrith show.
Whether they be bringing back memories of the fun of the 80’s, or are new fans who have discovered new music thanks to the wonders of the internet and cable TV, it is certain to be an explosive and exciting show.
And of course, you can be guaranteed that Belinda will be playing all of her big hits.
You’ll walk out of the EVAN Theatre convinced that ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’ and wishing there was some ‘Summer Rain’.
Actually, that rain has been pretty persistent this summer – perhaps apt given Belinda is in town next week.
Belinda Carlisle performs at Penrith Panthers on Friday, March 2.
For bookings, call 1800 061 991.
All tickets are $61.50 and there’s also standing room only dance floor tickets available, which are sure to be popular for a girl’s night out.