Go-Go’s 1977-1980 We Got The Beat!

Go-Gos, 1977-1980. I loved photographing Belinda Carlisle, Jane Draino Wiedlin, and the totes adorbs Margot. A few shots of Charlotte Caffey with then-boyfriend, Leonard Phillips, singer of the Dickies, first LA punk band to get signed. Plus Jane with her then-boyfriend, Terry Graham, drummer for the Bags and Gun Club. And more, so let’s get started with some IDs and stories behind my photos. Plus so many of our friends. Good times.

Starting with Second Slash Magazine Benefit, Larchmont Hall, August 5, 1977.  Belinda and her pal, Lorna Doom, of the Germs. Lorna told me Belinda made that leopard skin she’s wearing. Although I think I read in Belinda’s memoir (full of my punk pix), her mother sewed Belinda’s clothes. I am not clear about that. 

Belinda in her black beret, record necklace, and short jeans with pantyhose. WHICH FEW WORE back then! This was RADICAL fashion! To her left, Mary Rat in two-toned hair. KK Barrett, drummer for Screamers and Academy Award nominated art director. 

Then a typical evening hanging out, going to shows and parties, often on the same name, most every nights every week! A warm summer evening in West Hollywood.

Terry Graham, drummer for Bags and Gun Club. Germs bassist Lorna Doom in green raincoat, Belinda in trash bag, ?, Hellin Killer in red tights and boots, ?, Pleasant (aka Plez) Gehman, Sunset Boulevard I think, West Hollywood, a warm August night, 1977.

I love this photo! Note the beige, neutral colors, bell bottoms, and on the left, satin jacket arm in car. Those ‘baseball’ jackets were ubiquitous from record companies. Not for we punks! I love the contrast of the sleek blond styled hair vs OUR hair, OUR clothes. Talk about culture clash! Fun times!

August 21, 1977, photo session in North Hollywood. Alice Bag (of the Bags) (short black slip, short black hair), Belinda Carlisle (red legs), Hellin Killer (lace, shortest black hair) and Pleasant Gehman (purplish black slip, longest black hair)  in most photos. Plus Tomata du Plenty, lead singer, and Tommy Gear, synthesizer and songwriter of the Screamers (my fave LA punk band, along with X). 

Jane Draino Wiedlin in the audience, at the Masque watching the Zeros, October 15, 1977. She’s wearing a large dog collar as a necklace. Before most anyone else! LA style. November 23, 1977: Germs, Eyes and others. Charlotte Caffey was in the Eyes before the Go-Go’s. She’s wearing a garter belt and stockings in bare feet. Jane looks like she’s wearing a thrift-store vintage dress. Belinda’s high school pal, Lorna Doom, Germs bassist. Jeffrey Lee Pierce is sitting on far left. Then Darby Crash, Germs. Terry Bag, drummer for Bags and Gun Club. Not sure if b boyfriend at that time. 

A fun little proof sheet of the Go-Gos performing some time in 1978.

Belinda, in her memoir (Lips Unsealed) mentioned I went up to San Francisco with a small group of LA punks. We had to see the Sex Pistols! Most difficult show I ever shot. Just crazy. January 14, 1978, Winterland, San Francisco.

A few days later, January 17, 1978, word went out the Masque was being shut down. No fire escapes and a few other things. I love this shot of Avengers lead singer, Penelope Houston with then-boyfriend, Avengers drummer, Danny Furious. Going up the ONLY way in or out of the Masque. One stairs up and same stairs down. Entrance via alley behind Hollywood Boulevard. Leopard Phillips, Dickies lead singer, with then girlfriend, Charlotte Caffey

Due to Masque closing, word was sent out for bands to play for a weekend to raise funds to fight this! Elk’s Lodge, February 24 and 25, 1978. Belinda kindly posed for me. I had to photograph her. So colorful! So stylish!

Some of THE movers and shakers in early LA punk: Belinda, Chloe, Brad Dunning, Brian Tristan aka Kid Congo aka KC Powers, and Pleasant Gehman aka Plez. Brad became a very successful interior designer to the stars. Chloe hung with Screamers, was a makeup artist and very cool. You can Google Plez, performer, artist, writer, belly dancer. KC Powers has led a wonderfully creative musical career. Google him. 

Terry Graham and I think Delphina? Terry was one of the few to wear bondage pants and jacket from England. He said it was hot. Who wears wool in LA? 

One of my fave photos ever, the ever adorable Margot, original bassist and helped start the band. With Mary Rat, whose hair reminds me of Kim Novak in Vertigo. Lavender. Margot wore lots of 1960s clothes, with Beatles buttons and memorabilia. Margot also always had the BEST smile. 

We LA women, and some men, scoured thrift stores, yard sales, church bazaars for vintage clothes. 

NO professional stylists. Just DIY or with our pals. Wearing cheap, easy to find, vintage clothes and making our own clothes and accessories. So stylish and cheap, back then.

March 5, 1978, Masque Night at the Whisky. Brendan Mullen could no longer produce shows open to the public at the Masque. He could have rehearsals, parties and private shows. Publicly, he used a variety of venues. Blond Jane Wiedlin with then boyfriend, Terry Graham, upstairs.

Not sure when I took this color image of Belinda and Jane. I think the Whisky, due to the carpet? Who knows? 

The Go-Go’s were scheduled to play Elk’s Lodge, March 17, 1979. 13 months after the very fun Masque benefit the year before. This time, SWAT police came in, bashing punks. I was not there. But I was notified about the Press Conference at the Masque, the following day, March 19, 1978. Elk’s Lodge Massacre. 

I adored Claude “Kick Boy” Bessy, the most vocal, in your face writer, editor of Slash Magazine. Slash Records happened AFTER the magazine, with mostly different people. Claude was wonderful! His statements in Penelope Spheeris’Decline of Western Civilization” are highlights.

I also love what and how Nicole Panter expressed why it was hard for Germs to get books. Calmly, clearly, she says with the Germs, there was always “the threat of an imminent riot.”

However, SHE thinks I booed her when film shown at LACMA. NO, I love that scene! I look forward to it and applaud and laugh. She says I’m a liar. And that, dear people, is what I deal with. Hmm … 

Margot, smiling as usual, next to Claude. Exene Cervenka, X. Brad Cagle (? no idea who he is). Top of Billy Zoom‘s head and eyes, behind Exene. Guitarist for X.

January, 1980, Starwood. Belinda used the image of her near the stage floor in People Magazine and on The View (cool!). I see a Polaroid in front of the drums. I wonder if that’s mine? I took Polaroids and gave them to people, when I could afford it. 

Charlotte looks so cool, in her cowboy boots, pink mini-skirt and striped top (like Edie Sedgwick and Warhol). She was always the most subdued. She sat next to me at event a couple years ago. Still  somewhat shy and always sweet.

Group shots, Starwood backstage. 

Starwood, March, 1980, right before the Go-Go’s left for England. They were selling tees that Belinda wore. Wish I bought one, but I never had money for clothes. Only for film!

Backstage with Rosemarie (The Dickies sang about her, written by a member of the Quick). Drummer Gina Shock and Belinda. Elissa, original Go-Go’s drummer, with Jane

VERY fun afternoon: not real sure when I shot this? Around the time Go-Go’s left for England. X lived in a duplex, with a small but cool back yard. Top Jimmy in charge of bar-b-que. Go-Go’s, Tomata du Plenty from the Screamers (he was everywhere!), some of the Quick and other bands, all enjoying an afternoon gathering. Left to right: Billy Zoom, Charlotte, Jane, Gina, Margot, and John Doe. Belinda was hanging with Top Jimmy in a color shot. Sorry about the double focus on the left. Blame it on the camera!

England!!! First the Go-Go’s, then X, and the CLASH! playing in ENGLAND! I had to shoot the Clash on their home turf. I knew my days and nights of punk photos were ending. No money, unhealthy habits, had to get out or die. But first, England!

Party at Farrah Faucet-Minor‘s flat. She “had to leave Los Angeles.” Listen to X’s Los Angeles. She was real. She named me Jenny Lens! 

Suggs, Madness lead singer, sitting alone in the kitchen. Great smile! (thanks to astute reader, Chris Burns, for correcting my ID. See, I DO listen to others! I admit, I don’t know everyone I shot. No photographer can claim that! We shot so many people, often only once.)

One of my fave photos: Exene Cervenka, X, Margot, Go-Go’s and Ginger Canzoneri, Go-Go’s first manager. We both went to CalArts at same time. I earned my MFA in Design in 1974, two years before I got involved with Punk.

Ginger was part of Judy Chicago’s Feminist Art program. My work was in a show with Ginger! Judy Chicago invited me to exhibit part of my Master of Fine Arts Project. I didn’t know anyone in her students’ show. I found out years later, talking to Ginger. Funny, small world. 

Belinda with a guy at the party. Cos that’s we did. Partied! two versions: cropped and full frame. 

Finally, the end of my taking punk photos. Ending with Cute guy (musician? Specials? No idea?), Ginger, and me! Wearing my ‘ginchy’ blue dress (that’s what Billy Zoom called it, when he signed one of my many X songbooks back then), magenta hair, and iridescent makeup. Smeared, cos I always got so hot and sweaty and quickly wiped my face, to shoot again. Having FUN!

I still have that dress, can still fit it, and still have that makeup. My jewelry was stolen when I moved outta Hollywood, end of 1980. 

End of an era. Punk was changing and so was I. Had to leave cos I didn’t get paid, years of begging for photo passes, yet published all over the world. Memories are made of these photos. Which is why I took them. But at quite a personal cost. 🙁

Sharing some personal notes I sent the woman who requested jpgs for a project. I always describe every image I sent. 

** Maybe March 1980 Whisky show WAS the 14th (not 4th). I’m flexible about that. 
I shot (and saw) Go-Go’s SO MANY TIMES Jan-March 1980, very easy to get confused about exact dates. They were on a roll, playing quite often!
Plus FEW thought they’d amount to much! 
Their audiences were for X or other headlining bands. Their friends saw them, but only small public following. Then finally, Spring 1980, they turned a corner. But they were so scared onstage, and only by playing and playing, they became more comfortable. They were attracting bigger crowds. 
BUT their sound really didn’t change til they came back from England, 1980. I didn’t shoot them in England. Only party. 
X was very kind to Go-Go’s. Go-Go’s opened for X, when X had a growing following. 
We hung out in early 1977, so by 1979, friendships were strong. Belinda, Margot, Jane, but esp Belinda, went to lots of shows, parties, whatever. We supported each other being in the audience. 
Many bands got along well. I always say if not for X … would have been harder for Go-Go’s. Cos when they started, they could barely play. They were so scared. But they hung in and
NOW a BROADWAY show based on their music!! Head Over Heels!
I just found out when I needed to verify Jane’s last name spelling. WOW, Broadway. They did so well!
I remember the first time they played We Got the Beat. At the Starwood. I ran to the backstage, and as they left, I asked Belinda if they wrote that. She said Yes. I said, YOU ARE GONNA BE SO BIG!
She looked surprised. But she knew I was always so enthusiastic over the music and musicians I loved. They had the beat, fer sure!
At some point, I told Jane to save her receipts for guitar strings for tax deductions. She looked at me strangely. As if she needed deductions. Yep. 
So proud of the Go-Go’s. Great memories and photos and music!
#ShePersisted! #WeGotTheBeat


  1. Chris Burns

    Great pics, Jenny (as always). That’s not Terry Hall of The Specials, though. It’s Madness’ singer, Suggs.

    1. Thank you! I’ve always wondered about that photo! I also researched online when I recently posted, and thought I goofed. I cannot ID my Madness or Specials slides. I am not a ska fan. I do not know those bands. I think I shot both, but maybe not. This was the last few months of taking punk pix. Years of never being paid and too much speed took its toll. I had to get out or die. This party in England was my lass punk hurrah. Thanks, Chris for this input. You rock!

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