Jane Wiedlin is an American musician, singer-songwriter, best known as the rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist of the Go-Go's, a popular new wave musical band. As a youngster, she was fond of pop and rock, dreaming of becoming a famous rock-and-roll clothing designer. But while studying in the first year, she was accidentally introduced to the punk culture and embraced it whole-heartedly, leaving home to live among the aspiring punk artists. Eventually she met Belinda Carlisle and formed the Go-Go’s with her; she remained with the band for six years and released several albums. At the age of 26, she left the band to pursue a solo career. During this period, she also made short appearances in several films and united with her band-mates to go on musical tour; the band released its last studio album in 2001. Continuing to be active, she released her last album, ‘If You're A Boy Or A Girl’, at the age of 59.
Childhood & Early Life
Jane Wiedlin was born on May 20, 1958, in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Her father, Robert Arthur Wiedlin, Sr., was an oral surgeon of German descent while her mother, Betty Jane née Herro, was of Lebanese ancestry. She has three brothers and one sister.
Until the age of six, she was raised in West Allis, Wisconsin. Thereafter, the family moved to Los Angeles, where her father was posted at the Veterans Affairs Hospital. It was here that she spent an extremely idyllic childhood.
As a child, she spent a lot of time listening to pop music that was introduced to her by her elder siblings. Initially, she was very fond of The Beetles and The Monkees. But later as she entered the teens, the Sparks became her favorite pop and rock band.
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From Pop to Punk
Although Jane Wiedlin was fond of pop music her initial ambition was to become a veterinarian. However, by the time she graduated from William Howard Taft High School in 1976 she had undergone a change of heart and now wished to become a famous rock-and-roll clothing designer.
In 1976, she entered a fashion designing institute. In the same year, while looking at the photos of some wild-looking children on the King’s Road, London, she was suddenly smitten. Soon, she started visiting stores that sold punk clothes—much to her teacher’s chagrin—and started dressing like one.
In 1976, she also discovered a punk club called the Masque, located in the basement of a porno theatre. When she reached the place, she realized that she had found what she was looking for and immediately became involved with the movement that was still in the budding stage.
In early 1977, she left home and began living with other punk artists in an old apartment house near the Masque. Here she maintained herself by working at a downtown sweatshop factory, otherwise devoting herself to music, eating little, sleeping even less, taking drugs to keep herself steady.
Formation of the Go-Gos
In 1978, Jane Wiedlin, along with Belinda Carlisle, Elissa Bello, Margot Olavarria formed a punk band called ‘Misfits’, which was later rechristened as the Go-Go’s. After a few months, they were joined by Charlotte Caffey, who was possibly the only trained musician of the group and could actually read music.
Soon they started playing at different venues and as they became more and more popular, their old comrades started accusing them of selling out. Undeterred they began playing in places outside California and slowly they were no more a part of Hollywood punks.
In 1980, the Go-Go’s went on a tour of England and in 1981 signed a contract with IRS Records, releasing their first album, ‘Beauty and the Beat’, later in the same year. One of its tracks, ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’, co-written by Wiedlin and Terry Hall, became hugely popular.
Our Lips Are Sealed’, was a huge hit, peaking at No. 20 on the Billboard charts, remaining on it until 1982. The song also peaked at 15 on the Billboard Top Rock Tracks chart and No 10 on the dance chart. Equally popular abroad, it hit No 4 in UK.
On August 11, 1982, they released their second studio album, ‘Vacation’, which peaked at No 8 on Billboard 200 (USA) and was certified Gold by RIAA. It was followed by ‘Talk Show’. Released on March 19, 1984, it peaked at No 18 at Billboard 200.
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In October 1984, Jane Wiedlin left The Go-Go’s in order to pursue a solo career, releasing her first solo studio album, ‘Jane Wiedlin’ in October 1985. It received moderate ratings and its lead single, ‘Blue Kiss’ reached 77 on the Billboard Hot 100 and 30 on Hot Dance Club Play.
Also in 1985, she debuted in films, making a brief appearance as a singing telegram girl in the comedy-mystery film, ‘Clue’. Later, she made another brief appearance as Officer Trillya in ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’ (1986) and as the White Fairy in ‘Sleeping beauty (1987).
In April 1988, she had her second album, ‘Fur’, released. Written over two years, it consisted of ten tracks, among which two songs, ‘Rush Hour’ and ‘Inside a Dream’, were released as singles, both charting on the Billboard Hot 100. The album itself spent 21 weeks on US Billboard 200.
In 1990, she had her third studio album, ‘Tangled’, released. It was followed by a compilation album entitled ‘The Very Best of Jane Wiedlin: From Cool Places to Worlds on Fire’ (1993). Meanwhile in 1989, she made her fourth film appearance; as Joan of Arc in ‘Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure’.
In 1995, she formed another pop punk band called ‘Frosted’, playing live in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. The band held its last show on 31 March 1998, after which the band was dissolved. Meanwhile in 1996, they released their sole album, ‘Cold’, which was not a commercial success.
In 2000, she released her fourth solo studio album, ‘Kissproof World’. Also, in the same year, she reunited with her Go-Go’s band-mates, making several nationwide tours with them, holding the last one in 2011. Meanwhile in May 2001, they released their fourth and final studio album, ‘God Bless The Go-Gos’.
In 2017, she teamed up with Pietro Straccia to form a new psychedelic, pop, electronic duo Elettrodomestico, giving live performances by teaming up with others like Dawn Richardson and Joe Gore. The duo’s debut album, ‘If You're A Boy Or A Girl’, was independently released on October 20, 2017.
Jane Wiedlin is best known for her single, ‘Rush Hour’, which was initially incorporated in her second solo studio album, ‘Fur’. The single peaked at number nine on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 12 on the UK Singles Chart, and number eight in Ireland.
Family & Personal Life
Jane Wiedlin has been married twice. In 1987, she married Ged Malone, divorcing him in 1999. Next in 2004, she got married to David Trotter, divorcing him in 2005.
She defines herself as bisexual and has had many relationships, one among them being Travis Kasperbauer, a Madison recording engineer. She is currently living in Mérida, Mexico.
Jane Wiedlin is an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church and a long-time animal rights activist.