The Go-Go's on using drugs, alcohol to cope with fame: 'It was so stressful'

The bandmates behind hit ‘80s group the Go-Go’s are not keeping their lips sealed.

People Magazine reported Thursday the ladies are getting together to celebrate a Broadway musical, titled “Head Over Heels,” which features their classic songs to a new generation of listeners. The show was co-produced by Gwyneth Paltrow.


But looking back at 40 years of success and struggles wasn’t always easy.

Despite the Go-Gos becoming an overnight sensation with their 1981 debut album, titled “Beauty and the Beat,” the ladies couldn’t cope with their sudden fame.

“We only had one tool in our box, and that was drugs and alcohol because there was just so much going on,” guitarist Jane Wiedlin, 60, told the magazine. “It was so stressful. You were exhausted, so you’d had to pep yourself up and then you’d had to bring yourself down.”

“We had jobs where you didn’t really have to grow up, so we could stay in this extended state of adolescence,” added bassist Kathy Valentine, 59.

The Go-Gos quickly became engulfed in sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll as their songs skyrocketed to the top of the charts. But the band ultimately couldn’t take the party marathons, non-stop gigs and hungry journalists eager to capitalize on their personal lives.

The Go-Gos called it quits in 1985.

“I felt I had just become consumed with being a Go-Go, and it took me years to find my identity,” admitted Valentine. “It was a real gift because when we did start coming back and playing together, I was able to do it with so much more balance.”

“I felt really lost during that time,” shared Wiedlin. “Now when I look back, I think, ‘Thank God all that happened, because I don’t think I would’ve ever grown up.'"

For guitarist Charlotte Caffey, 64, breaking up was a blessing.

“I got sober,” she said. “I put myself before all of it. I needed my sanity more than I need anything else. I was fighting for myself every day, and I’m very happy I did.”

But lead singer Belinda Carlisle, 59, couldn’t give up on music completely. She launched a solo career and released hit songs, like 1987’s “Heaven Is a Place on Earth.”

Still, People noted the bond between the women endured over the years.

“We have full lives and families, but there’s only four other people who know what it’s like,” said Valentine. “It’s a bond that never goes away.”

Back in May, Wiedlin told Yahoo Entertainment she’s grateful the band doesn’t have to tackle the intense pressures of fame today.

“I liked the career that we had, in the time that we came up,” she explained. “It was a fun time, and it doesn’t look very fun to me when I see the artists of today. They just seem to be under so much pressure – the intense focus all the time, with social media and paparazzi. It’s really out of control.

"I don’t see how that could be fun. The level of scrutiny is so ridiculous. I don’t think I could have handled it. … I probably would have killed myself, and I am not even joking. It amazes me, what people put up with, the amount of hate on the internet.”

But Caffey insisted that even then, the Go-Go's just weren’t prepared for the massive, mainstream success that followed their career.

“It was very disruptive,” she recalled. “It’s not normal, you know? It’s very exciting, but it’s very disturbing too. We were ordinary people, having an extraordinary experience. And sometimes that’s hard. It was very difficult for me. It was just overwhelming. I didn’t know how to balance things out back then.

“And I think it was escalated by what happened to the band. It just provided us a carte blanche to everything… but coming home and drinking is not the answer. You need to balance it another way."