Belinda Carlisle (born August 17, 1958, in Hollywood, California) is an American singer. She first became known as a member of the rock ‘n’ roll band Go-Go. After their breakup, Carlisle began a successful solo career in the late 1980s and had hits such as Heaven Is a Place on Earth, Circle in the Sand, and Leave a Light On. As a Go-Go member, she received a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood on August 11, 2011.
Belinda Carlisle biography
1977–1985: Member of various bands Carlisle began her musical career in 1977 under the stage name Dottie Danger as the drummer for the punk band Germs alongside Darby Crash and Pat Smear. After just a few samples, she had to leave the group due to an illness with Pfeiffer glandular fever and switched to “Black Randy and the Metro squad” as a background singer.
In 1978 Carlisle became a member of the Go-Go. When the formation broke up for the first time in May 1985, Belinda Carlisle began her solo career.
1986: Beginning of the solo career
Her first solo album, Belinda, was released by IRS Records in June 1986. While she was still a bit overweight during her time at the go-go, she appeared significantly slimmer in the music video of her first hit single, Mad About You. Her appearance was also much more “glamorous” than before. In addition to the new image, the music also followed a unique style. While the Go-Go rock music was heavily influenced by punk and rock ‘n’ roll, Carlisle, as a solo artist, produced more pop music with slight rock influences.
Also, in 1986 she married Morgan Mason, the son of British actor James Mason. Morgan also had roles in Carlisle’s videos for Mad About You and Heaven Is a Place on Earth. Their son is the actor and LGBT activist James Duke Mason.
1987–1990: breakthrough as a solo artist
Carlisle further expanded her glamorous image on the cover of her second solo album Heaven on Earth, which was released in October 1987. The album was released in the US on MCA and in the UK on Virgin Records. The first single was Heaven Is a Place on Earth. The title became an international hit that made it to the top charts in the US and the UK, and numerous other countries. The new sound is undoubtedly due to her producer Rick Nowels, who previously worked with Stevie Nicks and later produced Madonna.
Heaven Is a Place on Earth is widely regarded as Carlisle’s most significant hit and trademark. The title’s success was fueled by the accompanying video directed by American actress Diane Keaton. In the video, too, Carlisle kept her new glamorous image, including her hair dyed red.
The next published title from Heaven on Earth was I Get Weak, which climbed to number 2 on the US charts and whose video was also directed by Keaton. The exotic-looking ballad Circle followed this in the Sand, which stormed the top ten in the USA and UK.
Carlisle’s next album was Runaway Horses, which was released in October 1989. The album surprisingly fell short of expectations in the USA. At the same time, on the other side of the Atlantic, it seamlessly continued its predecessor’s success and once again reached the top five in the UK and Australia. Also, the single Leave a Light On had previously become another top 5 hits in Great Britain and Australia and a top 15 success in the USA.
The other singles from Runaway Horses were also successful, although no longer globally. La Luna, with a Mediterranean touch, became a top 20 hit in Germany in early 1990. Here it became clear for the first time that Belinda Carlisle was much more popular in Europe and Australia than in her home country, the USA. The rock anthem (We Want) The Same Thing stormed the UK top ten in the fall of 1990, while keyboard number Summer Rain was in Australia’s top ten.
At the end of 1990, the Go-Go’s got together to go on a greatest hits tour. One part of the tour was an anti-fur campaign when the band members and especially Belinda Carlisle, supported the animal welfare organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
1991–1997: Declining success in the American homeland
In October 1991, Carlisle released their fourth solo record, Live Your Life Be Free. The album was barely noticed in the USA, but it landed again in the British Top Ten, where Carlisle was also able to celebrate another top 20 success in the singles charts with the title song. The singer did not go on tour with the record because she was pregnant at the time. Her son James Duke Mason (named after Morgan’s father James and Belinda’s stepfather Duke Kurczeski), was born on April 27, 1992, during the Los Angeles riot.
In September 1992, she released her first most fantastic hits album, The Best of Belinda Vol. 1. The compilation impressively demonstrated its popularity as it landed straight at number 1 on the album charts in both Great Britain and Australia. Her fifth solo album Real was released in September 1993 under the Virgin label in the US and Europe. Without producer Nowels, the album moved away from Carlisle’s previous “polished pop” style. Some critics welcomed this development and compared the sound to that of the go-go. The first release, Big Scary Animal, was again a Top 15 hit in Great Britain. The album itself was Carlisle’s fifth UK Top Ten album in a row. Outside of the UK, the panels received little attention. After the Los Angeles earthquake in January 1994, Carlisle, Mason, and their son moved to the south of France. In the middle of 1994, there was another short reunion of the Go-Go. The band broke up after the promotional tour.
Carlisle returned to the recording studio and worked again with producer Rick Nowels. In the late summer of 1996, she released her sixth solo album, A Woman and a Man, in Great Britain and Australia, which was a great success. Brian Wilson (Ex-Beach Boys), Susanna Hoffs (Bangles), and Per Gessle (Roxette) were involved in the album as songwriters and background singers. The singles In Too Deep and Always Breaking My Heart (penned by Gessle) reached the UK top ten, becoming Belinda’s greatest hits since 1990.
Due to A Woman and a Man’s success, the album was also distributed in the USA in the summer of 1997 by the Ark21 label. Despite Belinda Carlisle’s promotional appearances on American television and radio, the album could not build on Great Britain’s success there.
In mid-1997, Belinda Carlisle released a cover version of I Won’t Say (I’m in Love) from Disney’s Hercules. The title was used in the distribution of the film in Europe.