Published April 22, 2013
Belinda Carlisle seemed like she had it all as a member of the beloved band the Go-Go’s. But behind the scenes, the singer was struggling with an intense addiction to cocaine. Now, eight years sober, Carlisle says she’s luck to be alive, with her nose intact. The 54-year-old singer spoke to FOX 411 about the Go-Go’s, her recovery and her 20-year-old son.
FOX 411: The Go-Go’s were so influential.
Carlisle: We were definitely pioneers in that we opened up radio for a certain genre of music especially for women. Before we got signed we would pack out every single club we played in and the record companies would come and tell us to our faces, ‘We can’t sign you because there’s been no track record of a female band before you that have been successful.’
The fact that we were the first female band to play our own instruments, we wrote our own songs… to succeed in that way and not compromise, I think we were inspirational to a lot of women.
FOX 411: In the “Behind the Music” special on the band you were just as naughty as the boys.
Carlisle: We were young, rich, no responsibilities, not married, no kids and we took advantage of that.
FOX 411: You wrote in your memoir a couple of years ago that you had a long term cocaine addiction.
Carlisle: 30 years.
FOX 411: How do you still have nostrils?
Carlisle: I’m surprised I still have a nose on my face and that I don’t look like I’m a million years old. I’m lucky, I’ve had this amazing life, and I’ve obviously always had someone or something looking out for me, that’s protected me. The fact that I’m actually speaking to you right now is a miracle because honestly with the kind of life I had in my past I probably should be dead or at least in an insane asylum. I’m very lucky.
FOX 411: What was your moment of clarity?
Carlisle: It was a choice between life and death. I instinctively knew that if I carried on I would die. You can’t be a 47-year-old woman and do as much coke as I was doing. It was divine intervention. My bottom line was a spiritual bottom not a material bottom. I didn’t lose my family. I didn’t lose my possessions. There was nobody home; there was no soul, which is pretty bad. I was just sick and tired of it. I now have eight years of sobriety.
FOX 411: The Go-Go’s were cute and not overly sexualized.
Carlisle: We were just really true to ourselves. We thought all that stuff was really stupid. We didn’t think of ourselves as feminists. We were feminists as far as doing what we were doing, being successful and not compromising. We thought all that stuff was ridiculous and stupid and I still think it’s ridiculous and stupid. To put on that kind of act, it wouldn’t have been the Go-Go’s. The reason people loved the band is because we were self-deprecating and we were honest. To this day the Go-Go’s are more popular than they ever were. Every summer we work and every summer it’s one of the most successful tours out there.
FOX 411: Tell us about the new album.
Carlisle: I have a “best of” collection with a new track on it. It actually started with the single. I have had no interest in recording anything new for years, been there done that, unless something really special came along and actually a friend of my son’s gave it to me to listen to, and I thought it was great. It needed some lyrical work, which we did. We were trying to figure out a format to release it and it just so happened that Universal was thinking of putting out a best of collection of my singles so it worked really nicely together.
FOX 411: Your son James Duke Mason is very socially active.
Carlisle: He does a lot of youth activism, getting the gay youth to become involved politically. My son is an amazing person and he’s been an activist pretty much since he was 16.
FOX 411: Do you think he’ll run for public office?
Carlisle: He always said he wants to be the first gay President. Anything can happen, you never know!