Drew Barrymore Welcomes Go-Go’s Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
"The Go-Go’s had been in my personal hall of fame since I was six years old," she said tonight at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. "In fact, if you told tiny me that I’d be up introducing my heroes into the most notable rock 'n' roll club in history, I’d say, 'Well, I’ll do my best!'"
She added that the band's debut, Beauty and the Beat, was her first album. A then-nine-year-old Barrymore was once interviewed about her fashion sense by Go-Go's singer Belinda Carlisle for MTV and counts Beauty and the Beat as a seminal moment in her feminist journey.
"I love that the next generation can soak up and sweat out all of this girl power that the Go-Go's instilled in all of us," Barrymore noted. "I always thought the Go-Go’s was such a perfect name for that band. So full of kinetic energy. It fits their music and their spirit and mine, too. You know what? You always just have to go for it."
Barrymore explained how "she spent hours staring at [Beauty and the Beat's] cover and the backside, all of them in the bathtub. The coolest girls in the world, taking a spa day in cool-girl heaven." By the end of her induction, Barrymore looked like one of the Go-Go's on that cover, towel balled on her head and spa cream adorning her face.
Before the Go-Go's, female-led bands were just "girl groups." Afterward, they could be both critically and commercially viable on their own terms.
The Go-Go's struggled to be treated equally from the first as women in the emerging Los Angeles punk scene. Stiff Records released their debut single, and "We Got the Beat" was a hit. But cofounder Dave Robinson said he wouldn't sign the Go-Go's because they were "an American punk girl band objecting to being spit at." Bassist Kathy Valentine took to describing it as being trapped in the "lady box," which she has said was an unintended double entendre.
The Go-Go's kept breaking the rules and confounding stereotypes. When they started out, newly signed to I.R.S. Records by Police manager Miles Copeland, the group was slotted as an opening act. Then the debut album by the Go-Go's raced past the Police's Ghost in the Machine to the top of the Billboard chart. Suddenly, they were headlining as the first women to ever write their own No. 1 album.
"I went out and bought their album Beauty and the Beat and, as the vinyl twirled, my whole world changed," Barrymore told V magazine in 2012. "I stared at the girls on the cover like they were a gateway to cool. The fact that they were girls made me feel not only invited but more important – like I could be a badass, too."
And yet the Go-Go's were eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for 15 years before earning their first nomination. "We had this assumption that everything was going to change – but everything didn't change," Go-Go's guitarist Jane Wiedlin told Yahoo! in 2018. "Well, change comes slowly — and sexism is still alive and well in America."
The 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will air on Nov. 20 on HBO alongside a radio simulcast on SiriusXM Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Radio.
Metal Snubs: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 10 Worst Omissions
Why the Go-Go’s ‘Flipped Out’ Over Rock Hall Induction