Jane Wiedlin was born in Oconomowoc, Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Her father, Robert Arthur Wiedlin, Sr., an oral surgeon, was born in Chicago, Illinois, of German and German-Swiss ancestry. Her mother, Betty Jane (née Herro), was of Lebanese heritage, from Oconomowoc, where many immigrants from Lebanon settled. Wiedlin's parents met while students at Marquette University and later, married. Jane spent her early childhood growing up in West Allis, another suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is one of five children, with a sister and three brothers, growing up in a Catholic family. When Wiedlin was six, her father took a job with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, at a VA Hospital in Los Angeles and her family followed in tow.
As a child, Wiedlin liked to listen to 1960s pop music, especially songs by The Beatles and The Monkees. By the time she was a teenager, Wiedlin was a fan of Sparks. Years later, she would record "Cool Places" with them. Wiedlin stated, "I remember my childhood as extremely idyllic." Wiedlin also mentioned her teenage adolescence with angst and hope by saying, "I would definitely be a less-depressed teenager. I thought life was completely pointless when I was in high school, but just a few short years later I was having the adventure of a lifetime in a successful rock band!" Wiedlin attended William Howard Taft High School in Los Angeles from 1972 until 1976.
As Wiedlin describes it, she was present "pretty much from the beginning" of the Los Angeles punk scene. While attending college in the Los Angeles area, for fashion design, Wiedlin worked at a fashion design house where she created song lyrics, by scribbling down ideas on clothing patterns. "Jane Drano," as she came to be known, would later design punk-style clothing that she sold at Granny Takes a Trip, a store on Sunset Boulevard. She became part of the scene that spawned bands like X, the Germs, and The Weirdos.
Wiedlin and Belinda Carlisle formed The Go-Go's as a punk band in 1978, with Margot Olaverra on bass, and Elissa Bello on drums. The Go-Go's pop punk sound did not emerge until after Charlotte Caffey joined on lead guitar and keyboards, and Gina Schock replaced Bello on drums. After a 1980 tour of England, the band added Kathy Valentine on bass. They signed with IRS Records in April 1981.
In 1981, Wiedlin and Terry Hall of Fun Boy Three and The Specials co-wrote "Our Lips Are Sealed".The song peaked on the Billboard charts at No. 20 and remained on the charts until 1982. Hall also recorded the song with Fun Boy Three and the song was popular, hitting No. 7 in the UK.
Wiedlin remained part of The Go-Go's until October 1984, when she left to pursue a solo career. "Rush Hour" (1988) was her most successful single – having done well in both the American and British charts. The song was taken from her second album, Fur.
After a series of reunions during the 1990s, Wiedlin, Carlisle, Caffey, Schock, and Valentine re-formed the band again in 2000 to record God Bless the Go-Go's, their first studio album in seventeen years. The album, originally titled Vision of Nowness, had a title and concept based on an idea from Wiedlin.
In 2010, the Go-Go's announced their Happily Ever After Farewell Tour. Although scheduled to begin in July, the tour was cancelled due to ACL tears Wiedlin suffered in both knees after a fall she took while on a nighttime hike. She recovered and the band rescheduled the tour for 2011, no longer billing it as a farewell tour and changing the name to "Ladies Gone Wild."
Wiedlin has released four solo albums. Jane Wiedlin (self titled) in 1985, Fur in 1988, Tangled in 1990 and Kissproof World in 2000. In addition, from 1995 to 1998, she was a member of the band FroSTed, which released one album, Cold, in 1996. In 2017, Wiedlin teamed up with US born, Italian multi instrumentalist and songwriter Pietro Straccia to form a new psychedelic, pop, electronic duo Elettrodomestico. Their debut album, "If You're A Boy Or A Girl", was independently released on October 20, 2017.
Wiedlin's early acting credits include a brief appearance as an officer seen on a Starfleet Command video screen in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986, she is credited as Alien Communication Officer, but the script listed her as Officer Trillya), an ill-fated singing telegram girl in Clue (1985), the White Fairy in Golan-Globus's Sleeping Beauty (1987), and as Joan of Arc in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989). In a St. Petersburg Times online interview, Jane said about her 1980s acting career: "It turned out to be much harder than it looks, and as much as I enjoyed those experiences, I don't think I'm very good at it."
In 2000, Wiedlin sang in the choir on the Frasier episode "They're Playing Our Song". In 2001, she had a regular role in MTV's Spyder Games, portraying the "ex-rock chick who runs the local coffee house" where everyone hangs out.
In 2005, Wiedlin appeared as herself on the fourth season of VH1's The Surreal Life, wherein she talked about her interest in BDSM.
Wiedlin portrayed the bus station lady wearing a neck brace in Steve Balderson's 2005 surrealist crime drama Firecracker, a film Roger Ebert included on his list of the year's best films. Wiedlin worked twice more with director Balderson, in Stuck! (2009), an homage to film noir women in prison dramas, and in the 2013 action film Culture Shock.
Wiedlin portrayed a mathematics teacher in the horror film HoneyBee (2016).
Wiedlin has also provided voices for several characters in television and film animation. Her voice acting credits include one of Bruce Wayne's girlfriends in an episode of The New Batman Adventures, Gwen on Mission Hill, and Dusk, a recurring character in the Scooby-Doo franchise.
Wiedlin contributed quotes to Girls Against Girls by author Bonnie Burton. In April 2009, Wiedlin was photographed as Bettie Page by Austin Young for the "Heaven Bound" art show. A number of her songs will be featured in the 2018 debut of the Broadway musical ‘’Head Over Heels’’, with a story suggested by Philip Sidney's Arcadia set to the songs of the Go-Go's and Belinda Carlisle.
Wiedlin is a long-time animal rights activist, and has worked with PETA since at least 1989 when she performed as part of a "Rock Against Fur" concert in New York City. She is a friend of PETA's Dan Mathews.
Wiedlin had what she called a "short but dramatic romance" with Terry Hall of The Specials during their 1980 tour in England; Hall later sent her some lyrics prompted by their relationship, inspiring Wiedlin to write "Our Lips Are Sealed", a song on which Hall has co-writer credit.
Wiedlin identifies as bisexual. She has been married twice; once to Ged Malone (from 1987 to 1999) and once to David Trotter (from 2004 to 2005). Her first marriage was the subject of her 2000 song "The Good Wife."
Wiedlin is an atheist and also an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church, a mail-order religious organization that offers anyone semi-immediate, no-cost ordination as a ULC minister. Wiedlin identifies herself as "Reverend Sister Go-Go," serving primarily in the capacity of officiating at weddings.