Belinda Jo Carlisle (born , 1958) is a Grammy Award-nominated American singer. Carlisle is the lead vocalist and a founding member of the groundbreaking all-female new wave band The Go-Go's, and also a successful solo artist. During her career, Carlisle has released four studio albums (and eleven singles) with the Go-Go's and seven studio albums (and thirty-one singles) as a solo artist.
Carlisle was born in Hollywood, California, to parents Harold and Joanne. Harold was a contractor, and Joanne raised the children at home. Belinda was the first of 7 children, with 3 brothers (Butch, Joe and Josh) and 3 sisters (Hope, Mary and Sarah). Her father left home when Belinda was five years old. Her mother later remarried, but Carlisle was not close to her step father. At school, she became a cheerleader. She graduated from Newbury Park High School. At the age of 19, she left home with the confidence that one day she would be a star, which she eventually became.
Early career and The Go-Go's
See also: 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. Soon after leaving The Germs, she co-founded The Go-Go's (originally named The Misfits), with friends and fellow musicians Margot Olaverria, Elissa Bello, and Jane Wiedlin. Olaverria and Bello were soon out of the group and the new line-up included 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 '80s, helping usher New Wave music into popular American radio, and becoming the first all-female band in rock history to ever achieve a #1 album, who also wrote their own music, and played their own instruments. The Go-Go's recorded two more studio albums on I.R.S. Records (including 1982 Vacation, which went gold thanks to the title track). "Head over Heels," from their 1984 album Talk Show, made it to #11, but they never repeated the success of their 1981 multi-platinum debut, Beauty and the Beat, which featured the hits "We Got the Beat" and "Our Lips Are Sealed".
In 1984, Carlisle made a foray into acting in the movie Swing Shift starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell and performed backing vocals for the Don Henley recording of "She's on the Zoom" from the Vision Quest soundtrack.
The Go-Go's broke up in 1985, and Carlisle embarked on a solo career (although she continued to work with fellow Go-Go Charlotte Caffey).
Original cover of her 1986 debut album Belinda
Carlisle's first solo album Belinda was released in 1986, also on I.R.S. Records. This album was successful in North America and was certified Gold in the U.S. and Platinum in Canada. Her summer hit "Mad About You" peaked at #3 in the U.S., topped the Canadian Singles Chart, and charted in the top 10 in Australia. "Mad About You" was followed by the Motown-influenced single "I Feel the Magic", and by a cover version of the Freda Payne song "Band of Gold". All three songs were included on her debut album. The single "Since You've Gone", co-written by Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, was used only for promotion. Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles co-wrote the single "I Need a Disguise". Duran Duran's Andy Taylor played guitar on some album tracks and appeared in her "Mad About You" video clip.
During this time, Carlisle also had songs featured on movie soundtracks, notably "In My Wildest Dreams" from the movie Mannequin, as well as "Dancing in the City" from the Whoopi Goldberg movie Burglar.
Heaven on Earth
Cover image from the 1987 album Heaven on Earth
Carlisle changed again her hairstyle significantly for her second solo album, giving up her California Girl blonde bob for a long auburn style for 1987's Heaven on Earth. The musical style eschewed the 1960s-influenced pop of Carlisle's first album in favor of slickly produced 1980s power-pop, and was released in the United States through MCA, and in the United Kingdom through Virgin. The album became a Top 5 bestseller in the UK and Australia, and was nominated for a Grammy Award. The album's producer, Rick Nowels, previously worked with Stevie Nicks, and would later collaborate with Kim Wilde, Jennifer Rush and Madonna. Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas, Chynna Phillips and Carnie Wilson sang backup for the album. Thomas Dolby played the keyboards on some album tracks.
Belinda Carlisle "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" (1987)
25 second sample from Belinda Carlisle's "Heaven Is a Place on Earth"
The first release from Heaven on Earth was "Heaven Is a Place on Earth", which topped the single charts, not only in the U.S., but also in the UK and in several other countries (the dance mix of the song also topped the dance chart). The radio-ready song was further propelled by a video, directed by Academy Award-winning American actress Diane Keaton. The second single from the album was "I Get Weak", which shot to #2 in the U.S. and #10 in the U.K. The song was written by Diane Warren. The third single from the album was "Circle in the Sand," another Top 10 hit in the U.S., the UK, and Germany. "World Without You" was another British hit, followed by 1988 low-charting ballad "Love Never Dies", making this her fifth single from the album in the UK. In the U.S., the fourth and last single, "I Feel Free," a cover of the Cream classic, failed to reach the Top 40.
After the release of the Heaven on Earth album, Carlisle embarked on the 'Good Heavens' world tour.
In 2009, a remastered edition of the album was released with extra tracks, remixes, and a bonus DVD containing a complete live concert from 1988 (available for the first time on DVD).
Carlisle's follow-up to the success of Heaven on Earth was Runaway Horses, released on October 23, 1989. The album hit the Top 5 in both Australia and the UK, certified double platinum in Australia and platinum in the UK and in Canada, but failed to reach similar success in the U.S. The first release, "Leave a Light On", peaked at #11 in the U.S., and became another Top 5 smash in the UK, Australia and Canada. The song features a slide guitar solo by George Harrison; he also played on the song Deep Deep Ocean. The second U.S. single, "Summer Rain", reached #30 in early 1990. The song, which Carlisle noted was the most difficult song she had ever sung up to that point, peaked successfully at #6 in Australia, where it has maintained popularity, and the tune saw a cover version, in 2004, by the Australian group Slinkee Minx. It was the final release from Runaway Horses in the UK where it was released as the album's sixth single in December 1990, peaking at #23 in January 1991. Whereas in the U.S. Carlisle's success was decreasing, her popularity remained big in Europe and Australia. In 1990, further singles from the Runaway Horses album were successful as well: the title track, the summer mood influenced "La Luna", a Top 10 in Switzerland and top 20 hit in Germany and Australia, and "(We Want) The Same Thing", remixed from a country-styled release into a massive Pop hit, reaching #6 in the UK. Bryan Adams contributed backup vocals for the track "Whatever It Takes".
In the late autumn of 1990, the Go-Go's reunited for a tour to support their first best-of album, Greatest, including a new recording of the cover song "Cool Jerk" (Go-Go's original cover featured on Vacation). A notable feature of the tour was an anti-fur campaign, where the band members supported People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA, an animal rights organization. That same year, Carlisle joined with The Smithereens lead singer Pat Dinizio on his group's ballad "Blue Period" and also performed backing vocals on Then Jerico's album The Big Area on the track "What Does It Take?".
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", was also released with a promotional video. Subsequent releases "Half the World" and "Little Black Book" (co-written by Marcella Detroit of the Shakespears Sister under her real name Marcy Levy) were also hits outside the U.S., and although Live Your Life Be Free as an album flopped in the U.S., it was a success in Europe (Top 10 in the UK and Gold certification), while the title track was a Top 20 hit single in the UK, Australia, Italy and Sweden. To date, "Do You Feel Like I Feel?" is Carlisle's final single to enter in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #73.
The Best of Belinda, Volume 1
Still active in Europe and Australia with a record contract at Virgin Records, her 1992 greatest hits album The Best of Belinda, Volume 1 reached #1, and was certified double platinum in the UK and platinum in Australia. This first greatest hits album included all the hits taken from the Heaven on Earth, Runaway Horses, and Live Your Life Be Free albums. It neglected the ballad "Love Never Dies", and the three I.R.S. singles from her first album Belinda, as this only received a limited UK release and produced no hit singles there. Also, no movie-soundtrack songs appear on the collection. The U.S. version of the album was named Her Greatest Hits and also included songs from the first album Belinda.
Carlisle's fifth solo album, Real, was released in 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. Even the album's cover photograph featured her with little or no 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 #23 in Sweden. Its first single, "Big Scary Animal", peaked at #12 in the UK. The second single from Real was "Lay Down Your Arms", which made the Top 30 in the UK. Gregg Alexander of the New Radicals co-wrote the single "Here Comes My Baby".
At this time, Carlisle also recorded "One by One", on the soundtrack for the 1993 movie The Harvest and sang on the Lemonheads' Come On Feel The Lemonheads album on the track "I'll Do It Anyway".
After the Northridge Earthquake, in 1994, Carlisle and her family moved to Europe. The Go-Go's reunited again later that year to support the retrospective double-CD Return to the Valley of The Go-Go's, their second collection, which featured three new songs, including the single "The Whole World Lost Its Head". However, the band broke up again, soon after the promotional tour. Carlisle has since lived in France and England.
A Woman and a Man
Cover image from the 1996 album 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, consisting of mostly 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, also made the UK Top 10, peaking at #8. The album spawned two more smaller hits in UK: "Love in the Key of C", and "California", which featured arrangement and back-up vocals by Brian Wilson. The album reached #12 in the UK, and was certified gold. As a result of A Woman and A Mans UK success, the album was released in the U.S. during the summer of 1997 on the small Ark21 label. Despite the recent successful comeback in Europe, and the promotional appearances Carlisle made on American television and radio, the album did not enjoy similar success in North America selling only 17,000 copies.
In 1996, Carlisle recorded "I Wouldn't Be Here (If I Didn't Love You)" for the Two If by Sea official movie soundtrack. In 1997, she recorded "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)" from Walt Disney's Hercules as part of that movie's standard distribution in Europe, and was released as a single exclusively in France and Germany. Neither of these tracks has been released on compilation albums.
A Place on Earth: The Greatest Hits
In 1999, Carlisle released a greatest hits album in the UK, a double-disc on the Virgin label, collectively entitled A Place on Earth: The Greatest Hits. Carlisle recorded three new tracks for the album's first disc, properly called The Greatest Hits, including the single "All God's Children", and the songs "A Prayer for Everyone" and "Feels Like I've Known You Forever". The second disc of the album entitled A Place on Earth, contained previously released remixes of some of her hits, plus a couple of B-sides which were previously unreleased. Some of the remixes were by William Orbit, who also worked with Madonna on her 1998 Ray of Light album. A Place on Earth: The Greatest Hits was certified Gold in the UK and went on to sell an excess of one million copies worldwide.
Cover image of Playboy
In 2001, the Go-Go's reunited again and released an album of new material, God Bless The Go-Go's. Green Day's lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong co-wrote the only released single "Unforgiven". The album was well-received by critics, though sales were low and it only peaked at number #57 in the Billboard 200 chart.
Around the time of the Go-Go's definitive reunion tour she appeared nude for the cover feature and a full pictorial of the August 2001 edition of Playboy.
In 2007, the singer released her seventh album Voil?, which was her first full-length, solo studio album in more than ten years. The album was produced by John Reynolds and included Brian Eno on the keyboard. Consisting of a mix of French pop tunes and chanson standards, including covers of Fran?oise Hardy and ?dith Piaf classics. Voil? was released via Rykodisc in the UK on February 5, and in the U.S. the following day, February 6, 2007. Carlisle was originally approached to make another pop rock album, but she declined immediately, in favor of recording this collection of songs, the style of which, she'd "absolutely fallen in love with", since moving to France in the early 1990s. On New Year's Eve 2007 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles she co-headlined an all-French song Parisian-themed New Year's concert, with Rufus Wainwright.
She performed live at Free at the Dee 2006, a free outdoor concert, in Aberdeen, Scotland and on the opening night of Manchester Gay Pride 2007. Carlisle performed a set with other 1980's acts at Retrofest, on September 1, 2007, at Culzean Castle, in Ayrshire, Scotland.
She recently toured as part of the Regeneration tour in the U.S., and the Here and Now tour in the UK and Ireland in 2008 and summer of 2009. The line up included Carlisle, as well as other acts such as The Human League, Bananarama, Boy George, Howard Jones, Paul Young, Naked Eyes, ABC, T'Pau, and Cutting Crew.
She will play the role of Velma in Hairspray in London's West End from October 2009.
Outside of appearances on tour with The Go-Go's, Carlisle continued her string of TV appearances.
In 2004 Carlisle was the first star to be voted off the UK Reality TV show Hell's Kitchen.
In 2006, she appeared 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, Taylor Dayne and Macy Gray. Carlisle sang "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" and "I Get Weak" with Lea Thompson on the September 7 episode.
In 2008 she appeared as a judge on the MTV reality show Rock the Cradle, a competition reality show featuring aspiring musicians who were also the children of famous musicians.
In 2009 Carlisle was on the 8th season of Dancing with the Stars, paired with Jonathan Roberts. She was the first star to be eliminated from the competition, on March 17.
In 1986, Carlisle married Morgan Mason, son of the British actor James Mason, and former Special Assistant to the President of the United States. Mason 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 anymore and I don't do drugs anymore. I am very much into my Buddhism. I found turning 40 a real passage in time for me".
Carlisle endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States during the Democratic primaries, but then endorsed Barack Obama during the general election.
In January 2009, it was announced that Carlisle was appointed the new spokesperson for NutriSystem.
According to her official website, Carlisle is recording new material and working on her autobiography, both of which are due to be finished in 2010.
All Belinda Carlisle lyrics
- A Prayer For Everyone
- A Woman & A Man
- All God's Children
- Always Breaking My Heart
- Band Of Gold
- Christmas Lullaby
- Circle In The Sand
- Deep Deep Ocean
- Do You Feel Like I Feel?
- Don't Cry (8 Track Demo)
- Emotional Highway
- Fool For Love
- From The Heart
- Goodbye Day
- Gotta Get To You
- Half The World
- He Goes On
- Heavan Is A Place On Earth (live)
- Heaven Is A Place On Earth
- Here Comes My Baby
- I Feel Free
- I Feel The Magic
- I Get Weak
- I Need A Disguise
- I Never Wanted A Rich Man
- I Plead Insanity
- I See No Ships
- I Won't Say (I'm In Love)
- In Too Deep
- It's Too Real
- It's Too Real (Big Scary Animal)
- Kneel At Your Feet
- La Luna
- Lay Down Your Arms
- Leave A Light On
- Listen To Love
- Little Black Book
- Live Your Life Be Free
- Live Your Live Be Free
- Loneliness Game
- Love Doesn�t Live Here
- Love In The Key Of C
- Love Never Dies...
- Love Revolution
- Love Walks In
- Mad About You
- My Heart Goes Out To You
- Nobody Owns Me
All lyrics are property of their respective owners and are strictly for non-commercial use only.