Born on August 17, 1958, Belinda Carlisle showed her inclination to music very early on. Initially, she was just another aspiring singer who lives in Hollywood, California. Before focusing on her singing career, Belinda first became a member of her school’s cheerleading squad. This was the start of Belinda’s topsy-turvy ride in the entertainment industry.
Belinda’s Early Career and Challenges
Belinda’s career in the mainstream music scene started when she became a drummer of the Los Angeles-based punk rock band ‘The Germs’ in 1977. She used the screen name ‘Dottie Danger’ while she was in the band.
Unfortunately, Belinda’s stint as a drummer did not last long. Due to recurring mononucleosis, she was forced to leave the band. Belinda never had a chance to attend any of the band’s live performances nor contributed to an album because of this illness.
In 1978, Belinda got together with her friend Jane Wiedlin and formed another punk band, ‘The Misfits’, which was later renamed to the ‘Go- Go’s. The Go-Go’s original members included Belinda (vocals), Jane (guitar, background vocals), Elissa Bello (drums), Charlotte Caffey (keyboards, lead guitar), and Margot Olavarria (bass).
Eventually, the Go-Go’s became the most famous all-girl band to join the new wave explosion and punk intrusion in the late 70s. Aside from being an all-female punk band, the Go-Go’s also set another record as the first successful commercial band not controlled by male managers or producers. They made music using their own instruments, and also wrote their own lyrics. They were also instrumental in popularizing new wave music within the United States, especially after they released their chart-topping debut, Beauty and the Beat, in 1981. Among the band’s hit singles include ‘We Got the Beat,’ ‘Vacation,’ ‘Our Lips are Sealed,’ and ‘Head Over Hills.’
At the peak of their popularity, Belinda and the other members of the Go-Go’s got addicted to pills and cocaine. They first started taking these substances in order to add hype into their live performances. Just six months after releasing their fifth single, personal differences between Go-Go’s members reached an irreconcilable state. The band finally broke up in 1985. However, Belinda did manage to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011 as a member of this band. In fact, the Go-Go’s regrouped many times in the years after their breakup, even to the point of touring together.
After the Go-Go’s disbandment, Belinda decided to take a solo career in music. In mid-1986, Belinda released her self-titled debut album ‘Belinda’ under IRS Records. With this success, Belinda proved that she could do well even as a solo artist after her single ‘Mad About You’ ranked number 3 on U.S. Billboard’s Hot 100, and ranked first in Canada.
Belinda’s second solo album was the ‘Heaven on Earth’ released in 1987. In this album, Belinda reinvented herself to the point of completely changing her California punk girl persona. Included in the ‘Heaven on Earth’ album was Belinda’s signature hit song ‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth,’ which made her one of the most sought-after pop stars of the 80s. ‘Heaven Is a Place on Earth’ dominated the U.S. Billboard’s list and conquered the music charts of other countries including Australia and the U.K. It was also the featured soundtrack of the Black Mirror episode ‘San Junipero’, which was one of the most popular episodes in this whole series.
On October 23, 1989, Belinda released her third solo album, ‘Runaway Horses.’ Like her debut album, the ‘Runway Horses’ dominated both the U.K. and Australia’s Top Five hits. In Australia, the album got a double platinum award; in the U.K., it also reached the platinum mark. However, Belinda’s third album did not top the U.S. charts. Her single ‘Leave a Light On’ just ranked number 11, while the ‘Summer Rain’ only peaked at number 30 in the U.S.
Despite not topping the U.S. Billboard chart anymore, Belinda still pushed through and released her fourth album, ‘Live Your Life Be Free,’ in 1991. This album only produced one song to qualify for the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. This was the song entitled ‘Do You Feel Like I Feel?’; it managed to get to the 73rd spot. In Europe, however, the album got higher sales and even entered the U.K.’s top 10 hits. In Australia, the album ranked 27th; in Sweden, Belinda’s fourth solo album ranked number 21 for ten weeks.
With her third and fourth album, Belinda experienced a considerable backset in sales. She considered this as a sign telling her to finally end her recording contract in America. Eventually, Belinda decided to move to the U.K and partnered with a new record label, ‘Virgin Records’, in 1992. Belinda’s debut album with Virgin Records was the ‘The Best of Belinda Vol. 1,’ a 15-track collection album containing Belinda’s greatest hits.
As expected, ‘The Best of Belinda Vol. 1’ became a hit in Europe. In fact, it ranked number 1 in the U.K. and Australia. The album was certified double platinum in the said countries. Belinda continued to reap success in her succeeding albums, topping the music charts in both Europe and Australia. In 1994, Belinda decided to take her family with her and moved to Europe for good.
Some of Belinda’s songs were also used as movie soundtracks. Some of the movies that use her music include ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth,’ ‘In My Wildest Dreams,’ and ‘Mad About You.’
Currently, Belinda spends most of her time doing concert tours in the United Kingdom and other European countries. She has struggled with her cocaine habit for several years, both with her group and as an individual. Her interest in Nichiren Buddhism has helped her to maintain a sober and productive life, which includes a lot of activism and support for causes such as animal rights.
With all the hardships and triumphs that Belinda endured in over four decades of her professional singing career, there is no doubt that she is one of the best female singers of all time.