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Patti Smith, Lenny Kravitz, and Moby are just a few of the rock stars who are also known to be talented photographers. Now, you can add Go-Go’s drummer Gina Schock to the list.
Schock chronicles the history of the band with her pictures along with memorabilia in the book, Made in Hollywood: All Access With The Go-Go’s. To go with the visuals, Schock writes about her own musical and personal journey.
The 225 page coffee-table book begins with Schock’s early music career, as a teenager in her native Baltimore. The text is accompanied by photos of her first band, Scratch ‘n Sniff. That’s followed by info of her stint with the punk rock group Edie and the Eggs, led by Edith Massey, co-star of several John Waters films. It was while on tour with Edie and the Eggs that Schock visited Los Angeles for the first time, and in February 1979, she moved to Tinseltown.
The focus then shifts to the band’s history. If you’ve seen the 2020 Showtime documentary The Go-Go’s, the details and images might seem familiar. In fact, a large number of Schock’s Made in Hollywood photos, especially the Polaroids, appear onscreen in the production.
The majority of the photos were taken from approximately 1980 through 1985. The Go-Go’s are shown, with original bassist Margot Olavarria, onstage at The Whisky nightclub in Hollywood in 1980. A year later, Kathy Valentine has replaced Olavarria, and the group is seen recording their hit debut album, Beauty and the Beat, in New York City.
Former Go-Go’s manager Ginger Canzoneri snapped the pictures of the band, dressed in tutus, during a break from filming the Vacation music video. One of the images was used for Made In Hollywood’s cover.
Rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin left the group in 1984, and new Go-Go Paula Jean Brown is pictured with her bandmates at the 1985 Rock in Rio Festival. After info on the short-lived House of Schock group (formed by Gina with Vance DeGeneres, brother of Ellen), some reunion era Go-Go’s photos are displayed.
The book finishes three decades later with The Go-Go’s receiving a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, and all but lead singer Belinda Carlisle attending the 2018 San Francisco opening night of the musical Head Over Heels, containing an all Go-Go’s musical score.
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Valentine wrote the two page foreword to the book, while the other band members (Carlisle, lead guitarist Charlotte Caffey, and Wiedlin) each contributed a full page essay. Similarly, celebrity friends Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman), Jodie Foster, Kate Pierson of the B-52s, and Dave Stewart added their own Go-Go's related stories.
Carlisle’s recollection is particularly interesting. She notes that in the band’s early days, none of The Go-Go’s had much money. Carlisle would cash her checks, and put all the earnings in a Barbie thermos. Not to lose sight of the thermos while on stage, she would keep it inside of Schock’s kick drum. “It was usually around a hundred dollars” noted Carlisle. “ At the end of the night, everybody went home with whomever. I always went home with Barbie.”
A couple of items are covered in Made In Hollywood that weren’t brought up in The Go-Go’s documentary. Schock explains why The Go-Go’s decided to record their third album in England with a new producer, in light of their success with Richard Gottehrer. She says, “We wanted to find the right producer who could help us capture that aggressive, edgy feel and bring a richer, fuller sound overall." Martin Rushent, producer of the Human League’s Dare album and its worldwide hit Don’t You Want Me, fit the bill. Fortunately, Schock’s drum tracks were used most of the time, as Rushent had the Synclavier digital synthesizer in the studio to work with.
Plus, an Oscar winning actress helped reunite the band in 1990, following their five year split. Jane Fonda was behind a March 1990 benefit show for the California Environmental Protection Initiative, a cause supported by the solo Go-Go’s. This Los Angeles concert appearance set things in motion, and The Go-Go’s came together for a tour that fall and to record a new version of Cool Jerk for a greatest hits compilation.
While Schock’s personal recollections are well written, especially the moving section about her open heart surgery at age 27, the book’s main attraction is her photos. Some of the pictures, in particular the Polaroids, have been enlarged to 8X7, and fill up the whole page. Schock’s portraits of The Police’s Sting, Stewart Copeland, and Andy Summers, are quite intimate in their own way. One particular shot of Carlisle dressed in sweats, standing in between two pinball machines with a Ms. Pac-Man Arcade Cabinet machine next to them, is not an image we're used to seeing of the singer. You can understand why Schock’s photos were exhibited in the L.A. area and San Francisco during November 2021.
The memorabilia is made up of Go-Go’s concert posters, a flyer advertising their 1981 Saturday Night Live appearance, a page from their 1982 tour book, the official Grammy nomination in the Best New Artist category, picture discs, and more.
Gina Schock Baltimore TV Profile and Interview (1982)
The Photo captions are listed on Made In Hollywood's last two pages. It would have been a little easier for the reader had they been placed under the photos themselves. Instead, if you’re not familiar with the person or persons, you have to go the back of the book.
Made In Hollywood: All Access With The Go-Go’s succeeds in providing readers with a fine, behind the scenes look at the pioneering, rock and roll hall of fame band. Schock’s straight forward and honest text adds to its appeal. Recommended.
© 2021 Marshall Fish