Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Although her fans today would find it hard to believe, Belinda's first venture into music was as the drummer for the punk band The Germs, under the name Dottie Danger. Soon after leaving this band she joined The Go-Go's. After the initial breakup of The Go-Go's in 1984, Carlisle embarked upon a solo career. Her first solo album, Belinda, was released on I.R.S. Records in 1986. Somewhat overweight during her stint with the Go-Go's, fans were surprised to see a new svelte Carlisle in the video for her hit single of music video "Mad About You", showing new curves featured on her album cover that were not due to airbrush work.
Carlisle flaunted her glamorous image on the cover of 1987's Heaven on Earth, her second solo album (released in the United States through MCA but in the United Kingdom through Virgin). Critics and fans noticed that not only was Carlisle's image more glamorous than during her time with the Go Go's, her solo music was more polished and dismissed by some critics as being confection. The new sound was certainly due in part to producer Rick Nowels, who had previously worked with Stevie Nicks and would later work with Madonna.
The first release from Heaven on Earth was "Heaven is a Place on Earth", a genuine international hit, topping the charts not only in the U.S. but in the U.K. and several other countries. It is universally considered her signature and greatest hit. The success of the song was furthered by its video, which, under direction of American actress Diane Keaton, showcased Carlisle's glamour that included her new red hair, part of an image obviously inspired by Ann-Margret.
The next song released from Heaven on Earth was "I Get Weak", which also had a video directed by Keaton. The next releases from the album were "Circle in the Sand" and "I Feel Free", a cover of the Cream classic.
Carlisle's album after Heaven on Earth was 1989's Runaway Horses. This album did not have the same global commercial success as the 1987 album. The first release, "Leave a Light On", did not crack the Top Ten in the U.S., and the second single, "Summer Rain", did not make the Top Twenty in Spring 1990. She had better success in the U.K. that autumn when she released a remix of "(We Want) The Same Thing", another track from Runaway Horses. This underscored that Carlisle's popularity in Europe far surpassed her success in America.
In the late fall of 1990, the Go-Go's reunited for a greatest hits tour. This turned out to be one of several shortterm reunions of the band that never quite had the steam of its earlier successes. A feature of the tour was an anti-fur campaign, as the bandmembers, and Carlisle in particular, supported the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization.
In 1991, Carlisle released her fourth solo album, Live Your Life Be Free, an album that had little commercial notice in America and the singer did not promote it with a tour due to pregnancy. Her son, James Duke Mason, was born during the 1992 Los Angeles riots . A few months afterwards, she released greatest hit albums in the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.; the British compilation topped the U.K. album charts.
Carlisle's fifth solo album, Real, was released 1993 on the Virgin label in the U.S. as well as Europe. Produced without Nowels, the album departed from Carlisle's previous polished pop music formula. Some critics welcomed the change and noted that it was similar to her sound with The Go-Go's. Unfortunately, the album's first single, "It's Too Real (Big Scary Animal)", failed to make any notice in the U.S. and very little overseas.
After the Northridge Earthquake in 1994, Carlisle and Mason and their son moved to the South of France. There was another brief reunion of the Go-Go's later that year, but the band broke up after the promotional tour.
Carlisle returned to the recording studio and started working again with Rick Nowels. In 1996, she released in the U.K. and Australia her sixth solo album, A Woman and A Man, on the Chrysalis Records label. This album revitalized her solo career in Europe and included several hit singles, such as "In Too Deep", "Always Breaking My Heart", "Love in the Key of C" and "California", the latter being a bittersweet reflection as to why the singer left her homestate. Given the success of A Woman and A Man, the album was released in the U.S. during the summer of 1997 on the Ark21 label. Despite the promotional appearances Carlisle made on American television and radio, the album did not enjoy the same success in the states as it did in the U.K.
In 1997, Carlisle also released a cover of "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)" from Disney's Hercules as part of that movie's distrubition in Europe. The single was only released in France and Germany.
In 1999, Carlisle released another greatest hits album in the U.K., this time on the Virgin label. The album included three new tracks, including "All God's Children," which was released as a single. The song did not have much chart success even in the U.K., but the album was considered by critics to be the best compilation of her solo work.
In her career, Carlisle had the opportunity to work with musicians from the 1960s. Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas did backup singing for Heaven on Earth; George Harrison did guitar work on two tracks on Runaway Horses; Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys helped with the recording of the "California" track on A Woman and A Man.
In August 2001, Carlisle posed nude for the men's magazine Playboy. The 42-year-old told ABC: "You don't have to be age 20 and size zero to be sexually viable or viable as a woman." Some speculate she may have done it to promote the newly reformed Go-Go's 2001 album God Bless the Go-Go's.
Currently the Go-Go's plan to continue playing and touring together.
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