Belinda Carlisle Gets Candid About Cocaine Addiction

By David Konow 08/15/17

"After three decades of cocaine use, I can’t believe I’m not dead."

Belinda Carlisle

The Go-Go’s, who are currently celebrating the 35th anniversary of their Vacation album, were always a lighthearted, fun-loving group—but like many rock bands, they struggled with addiction. Looking back on it all, lead singer Belinda Carlisle is surprised she’s still here.

Carlisle, who is now 58, recently shared with The Guardian, “After three decades of cocaine use, I can’t believe I’m not dead. I should actually look like the Phantom of the Opera with just two holes in the front of my face.”

And despite the group’s fun, bouncy sound, behind the scenes Carlisle “always wanted to be a bad girl”—adding that she’s “contrary by nature and [I] think my addiction owed a lot to that…I loved all the edgy drug films that made me want to go out and do drugs. I was just born that way.”

Like a lot of musicians, Carlisle suffered from too much, too soon. One time she went to the racetrack, then “woke up the next morning owning a horse. I’d been drinking, doing drugs and betting, and it seemed like a good idea at the time.” 

But her biggest regret was not being there for her son when he was growing up. “After I got sober he told me that when he was three, he thought I lived at the airport. That really hurt.”

Carlisle credits Buddhism with helping her maintain her sobriety. She started chanting several years before she got sober at the age of 47, and she found it “so powerful. It was like holding a mirror up and realizing I was in serious trouble.”

(In fact, much like George Harrison’s work, her latest album, Wilder Shores, has pop versions of Buddhist chants.)

Carlisle has been married to Morgan Mason for 31 years but she contends that it wasn’t easy to make that milestone. “I put him through the wringer with my addiction,” Carlisle admits. “When I asked him once why he stuck with me he just said he always saw the person underneath.”

Looking back, Carlisle knows how far her journey has taken her, and she’s thankful she’s still around to talk about it. “The American Dream always felt possible to me,” she says. “Against all odds—the tough upbringing, the addiction, the pop life, all my experiences—I think that attitude is why I’m still sitting here, soon to be 60.” 

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.