Cover Story – The Go-Gos “God Bless The Go-Gos”, with cover photograph by Maryanne Bilham


All images Copyright 2001 and 2007 – Maryanne Bilham Photography –

Subject – The Go-Gos God Bless The Go-Gos – a 2001 release on Beyond Records (Re-released in the U.S. in 2004 on Sony/Legacy/Eagle Records), with cover photography by Maryanne Bilham

Having released 3 albums in the early 1980s (including 1982’s huge Vacation, previously discussed in our 9/14 Cover Story) that coincided with the path that took them from bar band to opening act for the Police to superstardom on their own, the Go-Gos disintegrated within a year after releasing 1984’s Talk Show, and the members went their separate ways.

Then, after many years working on solo and side projects, some powerful force took control and brought the original band members back together in 2001 to create an album of new music called God Bless the Go-Gos. The record impressed the critics – many of whom had originally downplayed the band’s importance in the emergence of the 80s punk/pop scene – and showed what we all loved about this band. They are still out to have a good time and want us to grab a beer, talk about whatever’s on our minds today, and if we can share a laugh about how ridiculous the head of the cheerleading squad looks in her too-tight uniform, all the better.

Impressively (particularly to middle-aged men like me who want to believe that aging is just the passage of time), in addition to reminding us of their talents as great songwriters and musicians, the “cute and innocent” young girls who we knew in the early 1980s had grown into a band of alluring women that still have “got the beat”! Of course, then, it would take a photographer with a strong sense of how modern women should be interpreted visually to create just the perfect set of images for the cover of the first new Go-Gos record in 17 years. They found that in Maryanne Bilham, who shares her recollections of the process of turning “good time girls” into Saints in today’s Cover Story

In the words of the photographer, Maryanne Bilham (interviewed in October 2007) –

“I originally started working with Gina Schock – drummer of the Go-Gos – in the late 90s, photographing her for a series of ads for musical companies she endorsed. She then suggested me to their manager as a potential photographer for the new Go-Gos CD – their first in many years.

The people at Beyond Music were handling the Go-Gos project, but it was the band’s long-time manager – Ginger Canzoneri – who was Art Directing and making the decisions about any photography that might be needed. During this period of time I was also putting on a personal exhibition – a project called Divine Eros, which were modern day photographic interpretations of female saints and mystics. This exhibition was unknown to the Go-Gos at the time, but it ultimately provided some interesting synchronicity!

A meeting had been arranged between myself and Ginger so that I could present my music portfolio to her. We discussed the various musicians I had worked with and the images I had created, and as the meeting drew to a close, she decided to show me the top secret concept for the upcoming project. She the produced a sheet of paper with drawings of prayer cards, each one depicting a Go-Go with a unique virtue. Taking this as my cue, the next day I dropped by the images from my Divine Eros show and, a few days later, I was commissioned to produce the new Go-Gos album art work.

The band has always created interesting art work for their album projects. Ginger was adamant that it should be a return to the “classic album artwork of the 70s” – e.g., paying homage to the great works of Hipgnosis, Kosh, Roger Dean, etc. The fact they had not released any new music in such a long time provided us with a unique opportunity to produce a memorable conceptual piece.

Wardrobe was a large component stylistically in pulling the imagery together. Wardrobe designer Jennifer E. Mc Manus was hired to create the drapery and habits. We decided against using crosses or other props that would denote a particular religious denomination. Next on the list was the makeup and hair. Jane Wiedlin had green hair at the time, so this was another interesting challenge we needed to work through. For this work, we selected a stylist named Robin Slater, who is well-known in Hollywood for her feature work on films such as Memoirs of a Geisha, Artificial Intelligence and The Grinch.

Apart from the cover portraits, we decided to also recreate the famous Nicolas Poussin painting titled Les Bergeres d’Arcadie, more recently associated The Da Vinci Code, the Priory of Sion, Holy Blood Holy Grail, etc. We commissioned Schmidli Backdrops (LA) to paint a backdrop of the hillside and tomb using Poussin’s painting as the reference. Both Ginger and I were very well-read on the Templar Tales of Mary Magdalene and the stories surrounding the Cathars and the Merovingian blood line in the South of France ( and thought that this would be an interesting element to include in the artwork. This was all pre-Da Vinci Code and everyone’s current fascination with The Divine Feminine, as seen through Dan Brown’s successful novel.

Also, at the time of the shoot, none of the Go-Gos got on particularly well, so in fact I went to some lengths to make sure their portraits and prep were done separately. I guess this is typical of many bands who reform after being apart for a while –they’re like dysfunctional families. Since all the Go-Gos were in different locations at the time, all the info and concepts from the development meetings were passed through Ginger to Beyond Music, who gave us complete creative freedom for the image development.

It took 3 months from the intial meeting with Ginger to complete the project. The images were shot on a 6×7 Mamiya camera on Fuji 400 ASA transparency film, which I cross-processed to color neg and then had skintones balanced. This gave me a fully-saturated image with a flawless skin quality which worked well for this iconic imagery. The final images were then worked on with Photoshop to create halo effects and renderings to create the final effect.

The label was very happy with the results, but at the last minute they became concerned about an overload of religious imagery. Sadly, neither the “Poussin image” nor an image of the group in habits surrounding a disco ball were included in the final art work.”

Editor’s note – While the label may have been happy, unfortunately Catholic League President William Donahue was not and publicly chastised the girls for exploiting religion for commercial purposes.

As was reported on their website in April 2001, “The Go-Go’s have upset the Catholic League For Religious And Civil Rights with the artwork on their upcoming release God Bless The Go-Go’s, as well as their latest website. The group’s site is designed around a religious theme with a place for confession, featuring each Go-Go decked out in the clothing of the Virgin Mary, which the religious organization doesn’t seem to find quite entertaining.” A prayer is also posted for those who feel the need, reading, “Hail Go-Go’s, full of beat, the rock is with Thee. Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thine talent, music. Holy Go-Go’s, mothers of chick rock, pray for us sinners – now, and at the hour of thy concerts, Amen.” Mindi Sue Meyer, of band label Beyond Music, said the rock act wasn’t intending mockery. “These are all religious girls,” she told the New York Daily News. “They believe that God is giving them a second chance. They feel that they’ve been blessed.”

For more about the Go-Gos (still touring today), please visit their website at

About the photographer, Maryanne Bilham –

mb2v2.jpgMaryanne Bilham, known for her photography of famous celebrities and musicians, believes that photography and music are both “creative media that constantly explore and project our intuitive abilities.” Maryanne started her career at the University of Fine Arts in Auckland, New Zealand. While assisting one of Auckland’s leading photographers, she became involved with the start of the magazine Paper, a one-of-a-kind graphic and photography publication. Soon after this, she left her antipodean roots to explore new opportunities in the bustling Asian arena of Hong Kong for 9 years, where she began work in the advertising community and at the Performing Arts Academy. Traveling most of South East Asia and China, Maryanne photographed some of their leading musicians and performers, as well as other religious iconography, ancient ruins and mythical sites.Eventually feeling a growing desire to pursue her passion for the rock ‘n’ roll industry, Maryanne decided to base herself in Los Angeles. Since her arrival in this city, her pathway has led her to assignment work with some of the music industry’s more visible companies and publications as well as artists such as U2, the Go-Go’s, Skinny Puppy, Imogen Heap, Sheryl Crow, Courtney Love and John 5 (her image for his Songs for Sanity album features the guitarist levitating between his two guitars – see below – an idea taken from early 20th-century photos of hypnotists levitating their subjects between two chairs. A 20-foot version of this can be seen outside of Guitar Center’s entrance on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles). Maryanne and her partner – photographer Robert Knight – have photography installations on the outside of 200 Guitar Centers throughout the U.S.


All images Copyright 2001 and 2007 – Maryanne Bilham Photography –

Her personal projects include her Divine Eros exhibition. Inspired by the magnificent life stories of the female Saints and Mystics buried in the vaults of Christian Mysticism, these women’s voices spoke to her. “We always stand to learn from a comparison of our own forms of life with those we can reflect on from the past.” In 2005, Divine Eros was exhibited by The Trinity Episcopal Arts Commission in Portland, Oregon and the Farmani Gallery of Los Angeles. In 2003, she received second place in the International Photography Awards – Underwater Section for “Christina the Astonishing.”

Recently commissioned work in 2007 includes a new web and Ad campaign for the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas and a music video production for Bubbles and Cheesecake titled “It’s a Woman Thang”. She will also have an upcoming exhibition of Divine Eros for Easter of 2008 with Theron at the San Francisco Art Exchange.

Bonus images – from Maryanne’s Divine Eros suite, “Marguerite Porete” and “Teresa of Avila”


All images Copyright 2001 and 2007 – Maryanne Bilham Photography –

To see more of Maryanne Bilham’s work, please visit her website at

To see more Go-Go’s-related works in the RockPoP Gallery collection, please visit our website at

About “Cover Stories” – Our weekly series will give you, the music and art fan, a look at “the making of” the illustrations, photographs and designs of many of the most-recognized and influential images that have served to package and promote your all-time-favorite recordings.

Every Friday, we’ll meet the artists, designers and photographers who produced these works of art and learn what motivated them, what processes they used, how they collaborated (or fought) with the musical acts, their management, their labels, etc. – all of the things that influenced the final product you saw then and still see today.

We hope that you enjoy these looks behind the scenes of the music-related art business and that you’ll share your stories with us and fellow fans about what role these works of art – and the music they covered – played in your lives.

All images Copyright 2001 – 2007 Maryanne Bilham Photography – – All rights reserved. Except as noted, All other text Copyright 2007 – Mike Goldstein & RockPoP Gallery ( – All rights reserved.