“This town is our town. It is so glamorous. Bet you'd live here if you could and be one of us…”
-The Go-Gos, “This Town”
Yesterday, the Go-Go's were recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. What made the fan-packed induction ceremony particularly sweet was the star's placement, in front of the former site of legendary L.A. punk club The Masque, where the band played their first ever live gig. At the Velvet Margarita party afterward, Jane Wieldlin snapped pics with fans, while DJs Don Bolles and Big Daddy Carlos spun rock tunes, heavy on the girl groups.
There's no doubt the Go-Gos were among the best all-girl rock bands from L.A. — and, for that matter, the world. But who else makes the list? Here's our top five. Remember, 100 percent girl groups only!
5. The Pandoras
Signature track: “It's About Time”
As part of the Paisley Underground '80s scene, The Pandoras were a fave both for their groovy duds — mini dresses and go-go boots — and their psych-pop rock stylings, through their releases with Bomp Records. They evolved into more of a hard rock band near the end of their run, signing with Electra. With enthusiastic support from Rodney Bingenhemer on KROQ and consistent club gigs, The Pandoras were poised for stardom, but with frequent member changes over the years and the sudden death of the band leader Paula Pierce at 31, it was never to be.
Lady line-up notes: Kim Shattuck (the Muffs) and Rita D' Albert (creator of Lucha Va Voom) were both in the band at various points.
Signature track: “Shit List”
Both heavy and humorous, L7's impact went beyond their bold, brash music. They founded Rock For Choice, a pro-choice women's rights group that galvanized both girls and guys through concerts and events. Still, they're most remembered for their antics. During the '92 Reading Festival, the band had some technical difficulties that led an agitated crowd to throw mud at them. Singer Donita Sparks proceeded to remove her tampon on-stage and hurl it back at them. A even more badass moment in L7 history? Their brilliant airplane banner ad at the 1999 Lilith Fair in L.A., which read, “Bored? Tired? Try L7.” (They also had one for Warped Tour in New Jersey: “Warped needs more beaver… Love L7.”)
Lady line-up notes: When bassist Jennifer Finch left, she was replaced by Gail Greenwood of Belly.
3. The Bangles
Signature tracks: “Walk Like An Egyptian,” “Eternal Flame”
Originally part of the '60s resurgence in late-'80's L.A., The Bangles (originally The Bangs) became more accessible and pop radio friendly over time. With the comely Susann Hoffs up front, the band scored fans of both genders — even Prince, who wrote “Manic Monday” for them.
Lady line-up notes: Before joining The Bangles, Bassist Michael Steele was a shortlived member of The Runways.
2. The Runaways
Signature track: “Cherry Bomb”
Had Joan Jett not become the most famous L.A. female rocker of all, The Runaways place in rock history might be somewhat less significant. (There wouldn't have been a movie about them, anyway.) Still, their style and sound — not to mention how young they were when they broke out — has inspired a new generation of guitar-wielding girls in garages, even without a Kim Fowley to guide them.
Lady line-up notes: Revolving bassists.
1. The Go-Gos
Signature tracks: “We Got The Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed”
Though they emerged from L.A.'s punk scene, The Go-Go's started out making sloppy pop rock — called “new wave” at the time — and learned as they went along. Their gift for bubbly, fun, hooky songs began to show through as they got better; Belinda Carlisle's sweet voice, Jane Wieldlin's swirling guitars and the band's catchy songs proved an irresistible combination. Their good looks didn't hurt, either, but like all the gals on this short list — and unlike most females on today's charts — sex appeal wasn't nearly as important as moxie.
Lady line-up notes: Belinda was briefly in The Germs before joining The Go-Go's.
See our slideshow from the induction and after party here.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.