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A Go-Go's go-slow investments

Jane WiedlinWhen people think of the Go-Go's, a certain image springs to mind. Clean, perky, upbeat, fun ... did we mention perky?

So when the band began its comeback in what has become the traditional way -- with a VH1 "Behind The Music" special -- many old-time listeners were shocked at what they saw. Turns out the Go-Go's -- vocalist Belinda Carlisle, guitarists Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin, bassist Kathy Valentine, and drummer Gina Schock -- were as far from clean-cut as could be, originating in the L.A. punk scene of the '70s and accompanying their success with a cocktail of sex and drugs that would make Motley Crue proud.

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Detailed accounts (and videotaped evidence) of lewd incidents with male groupies, as well as the recollection of Caffey's heroin addiction gave an ironic poignancy to the old Go-Go's hit "Our Lips Are Sealed." Of course they were -- nothing they were doing was fit for public discussion.

So, as can be predicted when such a wild time accompanies hit records, which the Go-Go's had on all three of their '80s studio recordings, the band imploded under the weight of the party.

In the solo career aftermath, Carlisle had some success, but the other band members remained primarily out of the spotlight. Wiedlin continued writing songs, but also acted and did voice-overs, appearing in the films "Clue," "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," and in "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" as Joan of Arc, and lending her pillowy voice to "King of the Hill," Nickelodeon's "Wild Thornberry's," and "Scooby Doo and the Witch's Ghost."

While the Go-Go's reunited every four or five years to play some dates or support a Greatest Hits record, the group recently released, "God Bless the Go-Go's," their first full-length studio album since 1984.

Bankrate spoke with Wiedlin about life and profit in the shadow of success.

BANKRATE: Many hard-partying rock veterans seemed to cause themselves some financial trouble along the way. Did you party your money away?

JANE WIEDLIN: We didn't make huge bucks in the first place, but I personally didn't squander my money. I've always been sort of sensible, and I've never stopped working, so I've never gone broke or anything.

B: How had you made your living away from the Go-Go's?

JW: I continued releasing records. I've always been a songwriter. I've acted, I do cartoon voice-overs. I've consistently taken care of myself since I was 14, so now it's something I'm used to doing.

B: Now that the Go-Go's are back, are you still doing those other things?

JW: No. I've had to put everything aside for the band, and I'm OK with that because I think what we're doing is important. I'm proud to be out here with them.

B: When the Go-Go's were down, which area of business provided the best income for you?

JW: My best income has consistently been publishing money, which is songwriting money. I always received songwriting royalties for the Go-Go's songs, plus I continued to write for myself and other artists. So it was a constant steady stream, for which I'm very thankful.

B: Speaking of songwriting, didn't you have a No. 1 hit this year on the country charts?

JW: We did. Charlotte (Caffey) and I co-wrote a song for Keith Urban, a country artist, called "But for the Grace of God," that went to No. 1. It was extremely exciting to finally have a No. 1, and very strange that it was a country song.

B: That was actually your first No. 1?

JW: Yes. Weird, huh?

B: Were the other Go-Go's a little jealous?

JW: If they were, they didn't tell us. (laughs)

B: So songwriting wound up eclipsing the voice-over and acting work?

JW: It was the most consistent thing over the years.

B: When tech stocks went nuts, did you go that route?

JW: No. I never even owned any stock. My business manager's really conservative, and he thinks that a musician's income is so shaky, you don't know from year to year how much money you're going to make or when the income's going to stop, that it's not safe for a musician to own stock. So I've always, in the past, done things like Treasury bills, and I've got my IRA and my KEOGH and stuff like that, but it's really conservative.

B: So what kind of returns were you getting -- 5 percent, 10 percent?

JW: I'm not getting great returns, but I guess the stock market has never ever affected me. But different people in the band have taken totally different courses with it. I'm definitely the most conservative one in the band with money. I know Gina has made huge money on stocks, and has also lost huge money on stocks because she definitely plays the market.

B: Seeing the ups and downs, do you appreciate the route you took?

JW: Of course I get jealous. Once in a while I hear someone I know who invested in Starbucks 15 years ago, and I'm SO JEALOUS, and I think, why, why can't I do that? Sometimes I think that one of these days I'm going to hear about a little company, and I'm going to know in my heart that they're going to do great, and then I'll buy stock in that. But I don't think I would just leap into anything. I think with me it would have to be something I really believed in that I thought was really going to make it, and it would be doubly satisfying if they did well.

-- Posted: Sept. 6, 2001

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