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Belinda Jo Kerzeski Carlisle was born in California on 17 August 1958. She was the eldest of seven children, and the family did not have much money to spend on them.
Her father, Walt, left her mother, Joanne, and the children. Her mother then married her stepfather Duke. The rebellious Belinda did not get on well with the strict Duke.
She was an overweight tomboy, and while at school was nicknamed “Berlimpa”.
At High School she changed her image and became a member of the cheerleading squad. She graduated high school in 1976.
Then the 19 year old left home to get away from her stepfather and got involved in the Los Angeles puck scene, including cocaine.
She became a drummer of The Germs band, but had to return home due to poor health. When she returned to the punk rock scene, she got together with some other girls and became part of the Go-Go’s. They played in the basement of a porn theatre, called The Masque.
Then they got work touring with Madness in the UK for two years.
They made the album Beauty and the Beat, but still struggled to get a record deal, until IRS signed them in 1981. Beauty and the Beat then went straight to the top in the UK charts, and went on to be the first album by an all girl band to top the US charts. They then became successful in Europe, Asia and Australia.
Despite the musical success, drugs and alcohol abuse was destroying the Go-Go’s, and Belinda had to follow others into rehab. The Go-Go’s were no more.
In the next part of her story she meets Morgan Mason, son of actor James Mason, on a blind date, moves in with him and they marry in 1985. She was no longer an overweight punk, but a beautiful woman.
Her first solo album, Belinda, was released in 1986, and did well in the US charts.
In 1987 the Heaven on Earth album made her a star around the world. The popular hit singles were Heaven is a Place on Earth, I Get Weak and Circle in the Sand.
This was followed by the Runaway Horses album, which won her great success in the UK and Australia, but was not so well received in the US. This album contained Belinda’s favourite hit single Summer Rain, as well as Leave a Light On (featuring George Harrison), La Luna, and We Want the Same Thing. Brain Adams made an appearance on this album as well on the track “Whatever It Takes”.
Although her home country lost interest, she had great success touring the UK and Australia. The MCA record company ended her four album contract with Her Greatest Hits, and she was signed to Virgin.
In April 1992 her son was born. He is called James Duke Mason. James after his grandfather on his father’s side, and Duke after Belinda’s stepfather. A compilation, called The Best of Belinda Volume 1, was released the same year, and sold well, in the UK.
Her next album Real, in which she was involved in the writing and production, was released in 1993, from which came the single Big Scary Animal. Again it was well received in the UK, but not the US. Belinda, her husband and son, then left California for a quieter family life in France.
1994 saw Belinda briefly re-unite with the Go-Go’s, but after a sell-out tour of the US, they went their separate ways again.
A Woman and A Man was the next solo album released in 1996, which showed us a more mature Belinda, and the singles California, In Too Deep, Always Breaking My Heart, and Love in the Key of C.
1999 saw the release of A Place on Earth: The Greatest Hits, which contained three new tracks. All God’s Children was the one new track released as a single.
At the age of 43, she was Miss August 2001 in that issue of Playboy and is proud of it because she said that it proved you didn’t have to be “20 years old with plastic tits” to be sexy. She claims to have had no plastic surgery.
In 2003 she had a successful singing tour of the US, ironically her home country and the one that first lost interest in her.
Now still based in the south of France, a country where she is not well known, she can enjoy a relatively normal family life, and continue her public life by flying to wherever her next concert is, but she seems content to travel less lately, valuing her family life.
She is at a point in her life when she would really like to lay back and enjoy the rewards of working hard since she was a teenager. She feels lucky that she can work when she wants to, and make a decent living without being a prisoner of her success.
If you want to own just one of Belinda’s albums, I would recommend A Place on Earth: The Greatest Hits, taken from her solo career in pop from 1987-1999.
As with all Greatest Hits collections, fans debate about what should have been added or left out. If you want to supplement this, I would recommend The Collection released in 2002. On its own, fans would think this an odd compilation of tracks, but as 8 of the 15 tracks are different from A Place on Earth, I think it is a good supplement to it, if one album isn’t enough for you, especially bearing in mind the prices I have found them at.
I find that the best value for money site for buying old CDs is usually 101cd.com, where A Place on Earth Greatest Hits is being sold for £4.99 for the single 18 track album, and £8.95 for the double album with a 10 track second CD, consisting mostly of remixes. The Collection is £3.99. Also on 101cd.com you can hear samples of the music on both albums.
Pictures of Belinda Carlisle
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