A former high school cheerleader, Carlisle is the eldest of seven children.
Early Career and 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, although illness prevented her from ever performing with them live. Soon after leaving this band she founded the Go-Go’s (originally named The Misfits) with friend and fellow music novice Jane Wiedlin. With 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 80’s, helping to usher “new wave music” into popular American radio and becoming the first all-female band in rock history to achieve a #1 album, who also wrote their own music and played their own instruments. The Go-Go’s recorded two more studio albums (including VACATION, which went gold thanks to the title track). “Head over Heels,” from the album Talk Show, made it to #11, but they never repeated the success of their multi-platinum debut, Beauty and the Beat, which featured the hits “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed”.
The antics of the Go-Go’s in the early- to mid-1980s contrasted with their public image. Since then, the group’s notoriety from that time period had become something of a legend, involving drugs and sex. Years later, in a 2007 interview with PlanetOut, Carlisle said that the band had female groupies and said, “Well, without going into too much detail … I think all of us in the band, we’ve all had … we’ve all seen the experience you are probably wondering about. And, yeah, like I said, without going into too much detail, we’ve all been there and done that.”
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). Carlisle’s first album, Belinda, was released on I.R.S. Records in 1986. Her #3 summer hit “Mad About You” was followed by the Motown-influenced single “I Feel The Magic” and by a cover version of Band Of Gold, all three songs included on the album.
During this time, Carlisle also had songs featured on movie soundtracks, notably “In My Wildest Dreams” the opener in the movie Mannequin, as well as “Dancing in the City” from the Whoopi Goldberg movie Burglar.
Heaven on Earth
Carlisle changed her hairstyle significantly for her second solo album, giving up her California Girl blonde bob for a long auburn do 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 Five bestseller in the UK and Australia and was nominated for an Grammy Award. The album’s producer, Rick Nowels, previously worked with Stevie Nicks and would later collaborate with Madonna.
The first release from Heaven On Earth was “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” which topped the single charts not only in the US but also in the UK and Australia. (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 release from Heaven On Earth was the US #2 and UK Top 10 smash “I Get Weak” written by Diane Warren; it was accompanied by another Keaton-directed video. The third single and video from the album was “Circle in the Sand” another Top 10 hit in the US, the UK and Germany too. “World Without You” was another British hit, followed by 1988’s low-charting ballad “Love Never Dies” in the UK. In the U.S., the fourth single “I Feel Free” a cover of the Cream classic, missed the Top 40.
Carlisle’s follow-up to the success of Heaven on Earth was “Runaway Horses” of October 23, 1989. The album again hit the Top Five in both Australia and the UK, certified double platinum in Australia and platinum in the UK, but failed to reach similar success in the US. The first release, Leave a Light On peaked at #11 in the US and became another Top Five smash in the UK and Australia. The song features a slide guitar solo by George Harrison (see Greatest Hits). The second US single, “Summer Rain” reached #30 in Spring 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. Whereas in the US, 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 summer mood influenced La Luna,a Top 20 hit in Germany and Australia, and the powerful rock hymne (We Want) the Same Thing, another Top 10 smash in the UK. In the late autumn of 1990, the Go-Go’s reunited for a tour to support their greatest-hits album “Go Go’s Greatest”, including a new recording of the cover song “Cool Jerk”. A notable feature of the tour was an anti-fur campaign, where the band members supported People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization. Later in the year, Carlisle joined with The Smithereens lead singer Pat Dinizio on his group’s ballad “Blue Period.”
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” merged 1960s influences with producer Rick Nowel’s trademark bombast, and featured a video that emphasized colorful imagery, fashion, and Carlisle’s photogenic face. Subsequent releases, “Half the World” and “Little Black Book” were also hits outside the U.S. Although Live your life be free flopped in the US due to a huge lack of promotion from the record company, it did have success in Europe (Top 10 in the UK) including the title track as take off single, a Top 20 hit in the UK and Australia.
The Best of Belinda Vol.1
After her bad experiences concerning promotion with her US record company, Belinda broke her contract there. Still active in Europe and Australia with a record contract at Virgin Records, her 1992 <<Best of>> CD underlined in an impressive way the popularity of her songs, The Best of Belinda Vol.1 a 15 track collection, triumphantly reached #1 in both, the UK and Australia and certified double platinum in both territories. The greatest hits album included all the hits taken from Heaven on Earth, Runaway Horses and Live Your Life Be Free, only omitting the ballad “Love Never Dies”, and the three I.R.S. singles from her first album, namely “Mad About You”, “I Feel The Magic” and “Band of Gold”; also no soundtrack song features on the collection. Private luck was on her side as well, as later that year Belinda gave birth to her only son, James Duke.
Carlisle’s fifth solo album, “Real”, was released 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. Gone was her glamorous image and picture-perfect pop. Even the album’s cover photograph featured her with very little 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 its first single “It’s Too Real (Big Scary Animal)” reached a respectable #12 placing in the UK. The second single from Real was “Lay Down Your Arms”, which made the Top 30 in the UK, but did not fare well in other territories, hence it was noticeably absent from Carlisle’s second greatest-hits album.
At this time, Carlisle also recorded “One by One” on the soundtrack of the 1993 movie “The Harvest”.
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” which included three new songs, however the band broke up after the promotional tour. Carlisle has since lived in France and England.
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, peaked at #8. The album spawned two more UK hits, “Love in the Key of C” and “California”. Another track of the album never released as a single was “He goes on” written by Crowded House’s Neil Finn. The album reached at number #12 in the UK, and was certified gold. As a result of A Woman and A Man’s UK success, the album was released in the U.S. during the summer of 1997 on the 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.
In preparation for this album, Belinda recorded a demo of a song called ‘Falling into you’, which was subsequently (and to Belinda’s surprise) rejected by her then record company; Chrysalis. Shortly afterwards this song was recorded and released by Celine Dion and went on to become one of the biggest hits of her career.
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 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 have been released on compilation albums.
In 1999, Carlisle released a greatest hits album in the UK, a double-disc on the Virgin label. Carlisle recorded three new tracks for the album, 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 her “A Place on Earth” greatest hits album contained remixes of some of her hits. Some of the remixes were done by William Orbit, who also worked with Madonna on her 1998 “Ray of Light” album. The album was certified gold in the UK.
In 2007, the singer released her seventh album Voilà, which was her first solo studio work of full album length in over ten years. The album was produced by John Reynolds. Consisting of a mix of French pop tunes and chanson standards, including covers of Françoise Hardy and Édith Piaf classics. Voilà was released via Rykodisc in the U.K. on 5 February 2007 and in the U.S. the following day. Belinda was originally approached to make another ‘pop’ album, but she declined immediately in favour of recording this collection of songs, the style of which, she’d ‘absolutely fallen in love with’, since moving to France in the early 90’s. The list of prominent and respected producers and collaborators on the album clearly shows the esteem in which Belinda is held among her peers. While ‘Voila’ received glowing reviews worldwide it failed to make any real impact on the charts. This is regarded by no means as a failure for Belinda, who has stated it was never part of the plan for the album to become a big hit but rather a rich opportunity for her to indulge her love of classic french love songs and share that love with her loyal fanbase.
During her solo career, Carlisle has had the opportunity to work with numerous prominent musicians from the 1960s. Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas, Chyna Phillips and Carnie Wilson (pre-Wilson Phillips) did backup singing for Heaven on Earth; Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys arranged and sang back-up on “California” from A Woman and A Man. She performed live with her idols the Beach Boys, and performed with Freda Payne when Carlisle covered Payne’s classic hit “Band of Gold.” As mentioned above, ex-Beatle George Harrison contributed guitar work to the single “Leave a Light On”, as well as the song “Deep Deep Ocean”, both tracks found on the Runaway Horses album. Belinda performed backing vocals on Then Jerico’s album Big Area on the track “What Does it Take?”, She also performed back vocals on The Smithereens album 11 for the track “Blue Period”.
She also worked with noted musicians of her own generation, such as Duran Duran’s Andy Taylor on her debut solo album Belinda (Taylor appears in her “Mad About You” video clip); Thomas Dolby played the keyboards in some Heaven on Earth tracks; and Bryan Adams did backup vocals in “Whatever It Takes” from the Runaway Horses album. Another notable collaboration was the one with the ambient mastermind and legend Brian Eno who played the keyboards in her latest release Voila.
In 1986 Carlisle married Morgan Mason, son of the British actor James Mason and former Deputy United States Chief of Protocol. Morgan 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 any more and I don’t do drugs any more. I am very much into my Buddhism. I found turning 40 a real passage in time for me”.
She appeared nude (tastefully but full frontally) in the cover story of the August 2001 Playboy, around the time of a Go-Go’s reunion tour and album.   She was 42 years of age when the photos were taken.
Since their late 1990s reconciliation and 2001 reunion, the Go-Go’s have continued playing and touring together almost every summer. In recent years Carlisle has continued making singing and non-singing television appearances. She has been a frequent guest on music-related programs and she appeared on a celebrity edition of ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire? In 2004 she appeared on the ITV1 reality show Hell’s Kitchen as one of ten celebrity chefs competing against one another. She has also appeared on the ITV1 reality show Hit Me Baby One More Time, where she sang a cover of Coldplay’s hit, “The Scientist” as well as her own “Heaven Is a Place on Earth”.
Carlisle continued her string of TV appearances in 2006, having signed to appear 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 and Macy Gray. Carlisle sang “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “I Get Weak” with Lea Thompson in the September 7 episode.
Carlisle also performed on the opening night of Manchester Gay Pride 2007.
Carlisle performed a set with other 1980’s acts at Retro Fest on 1st September 2007 at Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, Scotland.
* Belinda (1986)
* Heaven on Earth (1987)
* Runaway Horses (1989)
* Live Your Life Be Free (1991)
* The Best of Belinda, Volume 1 (1992)
* Real (1993)
* A Woman and a Man (1996)
* A Place on Earth - The Greatest Hits (1999)
* Voilà (2007)
Top ten singles
The following singles peaked in the Top Ten either in Australia, Switzerland, United Kingdom or the United States.
AU SI UK US
1986 - “Mad About You” 9 — 67 3
1987 - “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” 2 1 1 1
1988 - “I Get Weak” 34 24 10 2
“Circle in the Sand” 75 — 4 7
1989 “Leave a Light On” 5 8 4 11
“La Luna” 21 10 38 —
1990 “Summer Rain” 6 — 23 30
“(We Want) the Same Thing” — — 6 —
1996 “In Too Deep” 11 — 6 —
“Always Breaking My Heart” 50 — 8 —
List of artists who reached number one on the Hot 100 (U.S.)
List of artists who reached number one on the UK Singles Chart
Audio interview with SYN 907 Melbourne
* Belinda Carlisle at the Internet Movie Database
* Official Website
* Belinda Carlisle - A Place On Earth
* Ananova article on Carlisle appearance in Playboy (via Wayback Machine)
* Belinda Carlisle at Tv.com
* Belinda Carlisle Music Collection
1. ^ http://www.planetout.com/content/slideshow/splash.html?coll=2976&order=3&navpath=/entertainment/celebrities Planetout.com Retrieved on 05-14-07
2. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2007/02/04/svbelinda04.xml Telegraph.co.uk Retrieved on 05-14-07
Edited by IRONICtypo on 30 Apr 2012, 20:40
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