Belinda Carlisle memoir captures punk roots, pop stardom

Tue Jun 8, 2010 5:06pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Singer Belinda Carlisle reveals a double-edged life in a new memoir from her burgeoning glory days in the all-girl band the Go-Go's to decades of cocaine use that masked her personal insecurities.

"I was like the good girl, bad girl, there were no grey areas for me," Carlisle said in a recent interview recalling how her days growing up in poor suburban Los Angeles where the contrast between being both a shoplifter and popular high school cheerleader formed patterns for her life.

Her recently released book, "Lips Unsealed," -- a play on the hit Go-Go's's 1981 smash hit song "Our Lips Are Sealed" -- details much of Carlisle's early days forming the band in L.A's punk scene and becoming "the first female band (formed by women) to write our own songs and play our own instruments. It was pretty revolutionary," said Carlisle.

After obsessions with bands like Queen and the Sex Pistols, Carlisle and guitarist/songwriter Jane Wiedlin helped start the new wave band but were clueless about how to perform.

"The punk scene was great in that anybody could be in a band and be terrible, including us," said Carlisle, now 50. "We started from zero, we didn't have a Svengali. We had no idea how to play our instruments."

But soon they played in L.A. clubs such as the Whisky a Go Go and gained a following with their high energy and punk image that saw Carlisle sporting a crew cut, changed hair colors and experimenting with outrageous outfits.

"It was never a contrived image. We just looked that way. It was a combination of punk, rockabilly and tiaras, torn stockings and stilettos," Carlisle said. "And we just had these angelic faces that hid a multitude of sins."


<p>Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go's, performs on NBC's "Today" show at Rockefeller Center in New York May 19, 2006. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>