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Go-Gos Bassist Sues Former Bandmates

The Go-Go's
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

A lawsuit filed by former Go-Go’s bassist Kathy Valentine sheds new light on the inner dysfunction of the groundbreaking new wave group. Valentine filed her complaint in Los Angeles on May 24, alleging that her former band mates are conspiring to rob her of her fair share of the group’s income.

The remarkable 33-page complaint details a band history so fraught with intrigue and interpersonal conflict that it makes the scandalous Behind the Music program devoted to the Go-Go’s look like an episode of The Brady Bunch. In addition to the already well-known stories of rampant drug abuse, breakups and longstanding financial differences that have become part of the group’s documented history, Valentine’s filing reveals that singer Belinda Carlisle wanted to quit the band as recently as 2010, when she suggested a “farewell” tour.

The brief also states that guitarist Jane Wiedlin wanted to replace Carlisle and move on without her, and that when Carlisle relented and decided to stay with the group, they then joined together with drummer Gina Schock to try to oust guitarist Charlotte Caffey in a disagreement over royalties from songwriting publishing.

Valentine was the bassist in the Go-Go’s from 1981 until March of 2013, when the band announced they had parted ways with her in a post to their web site. She co-wrote some of their biggest hits including ‘Vacation,’ ‘Head Over Heels’ and ‘The Whole World Lost Its Head,’ and performed with them on every album and live show until 2012, when a broken wrist prevented her from taking part in a tour.

It was then, according to her lawsuit, that the other band members began scheming to force her from the band and take control of her shares of the group’s financial interests. Valentine states that when she had recovered enough to rejoin the tour in progress, the other band members told her they would prefer for her to sit it out and heal completely, and that when she subsequently clarified that she had no intention of leaving the group, she received an email from Carlisle in January of 2013 informing her that she was fired.

Her complaint accuses the other Go-Go’s and a myriad of associates of conspiring to improperly form two new companies, then using their controlling interest in the group’s existing holding company to license the Go-Go’s name and rights — as well as rights to their touring income — to the two new companies, in which Valentine has no stake. The filing states that  the maneuvering results in her stake of the group’s revenue being diluted from their agreed-upon 1/5, or 20%, to a “stipend” of just 2%.

Valentine is asking for damages that she estimates to be “substantially in excess” of $1 million, as well as the imposition of a constructive trust and injunctions against the Go-Go’s “and all those acting in concert with them.”

The Go-Go’s have not commented publicly on Valentine’s lawsuit.

Next: See The Ugliest Band Breakups

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