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All I Ever Wanted: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir

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Go-Go’s bassist Kathy Valentine’s story is a roller coaster of sex, drugs, and of course, music; it’s also a story of what it takes to find success and find yourself, even when it all comes crashing down At twenty-one, Kathy Valentine was at the Whisky in Los Angeles when she met a guitarist from a fledgling band called the Go-Go’s—and the band needed a bassist. The Go-Go’s Go-Go’s bassist Kathy Valentine’s story is a roller coaster of sex, drugs, and of course, music; it’s also a story of what it takes to find success and find yourself, even when it all comes crashing down At twenty-one, Kathy Valentine was at the Whisky in Los Angeles when she met a guitarist from a fledgling band called the Go-Go’s—and the band needed a bassist. The Go-Go’s became the first multi-platinum-selling, all-female band to play instruments themselves, write their own songs, and have a number one album. Their debut, Beauty and the Beat, spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 and featured the hit songs “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed.” The record's success brought the pressures of a relentless workload and schedule culminating in a wild, hazy, substance-fueled tour that took the band from the club circuit to arenas, where fans, promoters, and crew were more than ready to keep the party going. For Valentine, the band's success was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream—but it’s only part of her story. All I Ever Wanted traces the path that took her from her childhood in Texas—where she all but raised herself—to the height of rock n’ roll stardom, devastation after the collapse of the band that had come to define her, and the quest to regain her sense of self after its end. Valentine also speaks candidly about the lasting effects of parental betrayal, abortion, rape, and her struggles with drugs and alcohol—and the music that saved her every step of the way. Populated with vivid portraits of Valentine’s interactions during the 1980s with musicians and actors from the Police and Rod Stewart to John Belushi and Rob Lowe, All I Ever Wanted is a deeply personal reflection on a life spent in music.


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Go-Go’s bassist Kathy Valentine’s story is a roller coaster of sex, drugs, and of course, music; it’s also a story of what it takes to find success and find yourself, even when it all comes crashing down At twenty-one, Kathy Valentine was at the Whisky in Los Angeles when she met a guitarist from a fledgling band called the Go-Go’s—and the band needed a bassist. The Go-Go’s Go-Go’s bassist Kathy Valentine’s story is a roller coaster of sex, drugs, and of course, music; it’s also a story of what it takes to find success and find yourself, even when it all comes crashing down At twenty-one, Kathy Valentine was at the Whisky in Los Angeles when she met a guitarist from a fledgling band called the Go-Go’s—and the band needed a bassist. The Go-Go’s became the first multi-platinum-selling, all-female band to play instruments themselves, write their own songs, and have a number one album. Their debut, Beauty and the Beat, spent six weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 and featured the hit songs “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed.” The record's success brought the pressures of a relentless workload and schedule culminating in a wild, hazy, substance-fueled tour that took the band from the club circuit to arenas, where fans, promoters, and crew were more than ready to keep the party going. For Valentine, the band's success was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream—but it’s only part of her story. All I Ever Wanted traces the path that took her from her childhood in Texas—where she all but raised herself—to the height of rock n’ roll stardom, devastation after the collapse of the band that had come to define her, and the quest to regain her sense of self after its end. Valentine also speaks candidly about the lasting effects of parental betrayal, abortion, rape, and her struggles with drugs and alcohol—and the music that saved her every step of the way. Populated with vivid portraits of Valentine’s interactions during the 1980s with musicians and actors from the Police and Rod Stewart to John Belushi and Rob Lowe, All I Ever Wanted is a deeply personal reflection on a life spent in music.

30 review for All I Ever Wanted: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Neil McGarry

    Life is not a story, but a good memoir makes it seem like one. For the uninitiated, author Kathy Valentine was the bassist for the Go-Go’s, the new-wave (or pop-punk, if you prefer) band that achieved its greatest commercial success in the 1980s. The Go-Go’s were also the first all-female band to score a #1 album they’d written themselves. All of this promises a great story, and in All I Ever Wanted Valentine delivers with a vengeance. Except there is no desire here for revenge--given the mistre Life is not a story, but a good memoir makes it seem like one. For the uninitiated, author Kathy Valentine was the bassist for the Go-Go’s, the new-wave (or pop-punk, if you prefer) band that achieved its greatest commercial success in the 1980s. The Go-Go’s were also the first all-female band to score a #1 album they’d written themselves. All of this promises a great story, and in All I Ever Wanted Valentine delivers with a vengeance. Except there is no desire here for revenge--given the mistreatment the author has sometimes received, in particular from her bandmates, that’s surprising. Although Valentine doesn’t shy away from criticism, of herself and of others, she doesn’t waste time “getting even” for the many wrongs she has suffered over the years in the eat-its-own music industry. Instead, she sticks to her story: a girl raised with no barriers who becomes a woman whose ambitions both propelled her to succeed and trapped her in a cycle of addiction. That story is detailed, compelling, and eminently relatable. For example, Valentine maps out her dysfunctional relationship with her mother so clearly that, when she relates the story of the truant officer who comes knocking, I was able to correctly predict how Mom would react. Even though Margaret Valentine is not a character in a story, she’s so well characterized that I felt I understood her to some extent, even if I did not approve (to say the least) of her choices. Fortunately, Valentine doesn’t seem to be asking for approval, nor does she offer it to, or withhold it from, the people she includes in All I Ever Wanted. Instead, she reflects on how her interactions with those people shaped the person she has become, and, in the end, that’s the main job of a memoirist. Not to say that this book is always a comfortable read--All I Ever Wanted is not for the faint-hearted. I found myself shaking my head over Margaret Valentine’s penchant for tolerating teenage drug antics, gasping at the brusque indifference of Clifford Wheeler to his daughter’s obvious needs, and wincing at the unabashed cruelty shown by Kathy’s bandmates as they blithely dissolved the Go-Go’s. As much as I adored this book--I tore through in three days!--at several points I had to set it down so I could get my wind back. Any book that makes me feel as though I’ve been punched in the gut has more than earned its place on my bookshelf. Finally, for those with a taste for gossip, All I Ever Wanted dishes some delicious dirt. Valentine’s met a good many celebrities during her career, and of course there’s enough drama just in the Go-Go’s for ten soap operas, so even the nosiest of Nosy Parkers should finish this book well satisfied. All of this makes All I Ever Wanted a hell of a story about a hell of a life. Although the two aren’t quite the same thing, this book will make you forget for a little while.

  2. 4 out of 5

    julieta

    I really enjoyed this sincere and at times fun (and others depressing) memoir. I love the fact that Valentine is forever trying to put a band together, something I tried for a long time, (in a different way I am doing it still) and also the fact that something happens to her when she plays music, which is kind of crazy, and I can totally relate to. One other important part is, I always thought the go gos were a pop group, but they were a rock band, something which seen through mass media eyes, c I really enjoyed this sincere and at times fun (and others depressing) memoir. I love the fact that Valentine is forever trying to put a band together, something I tried for a long time, (in a different way I am doing it still) and also the fact that something happens to her when she plays music, which is kind of crazy, and I can totally relate to. One other important part is, I always thought the go gos were a pop group, but they were a rock band, something which seen through mass media eyes, came accross differently. The whole media thing and how they are treated for being an all woman band is crazy because in a way, even though in the present it´s different, there are things that are still specific to women in the way they are portrayed, and that still happens to this day. In contrast, she mentions many times how the many men musicians that she encountered were always supportive, not so the media. But it´s cool that it´s an experience a lot of women in music have shared, that men musicians tend to be supportive and respectful, and as a woman musician that has always been my experience too.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Csparrenberger

    Our local libraries are closed due to the virus. I decided to purchase this book on Amazon. This is the best $25 I have spent this year. This book is interesting on so many different levels. For me, the most interesting was a look at the behind the scenes deals made with record companies and their artists. It seems to me that the band members were grossly underpaid in the early years and had been together at least two years and had at least one album out before they were paid a decent living wag Our local libraries are closed due to the virus. I decided to purchase this book on Amazon. This is the best $25 I have spent this year. This book is interesting on so many different levels. For me, the most interesting was a look at the behind the scenes deals made with record companies and their artists. It seems to me that the band members were grossly underpaid in the early years and had been together at least two years and had at least one album out before they were paid a decent living wage. It was also interesting to see how songwriting credits, residuals and pay for published songs worked. For decades, I always thought it would be fun to be in a major league rock band. After reading this book, I am so glad that I spent my career in the corporate world. The ups and downs of the rock world are truly amazing and I am sure destroy many lives. I could go on and on about this book, but let’s get to the bottom line: This is an excellent book about a side of life and an industry that most people never ever see. A+.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Holly Gleason

    Kathy Valentine stumbled into pop history as the bass player of the GoGos, the first all-girl band to top the BILLBOARD Top 200 Albums chart. But in many ways, she grew up the alienated, washed-out child of the first wave of divorced parents who got lost along the way. With an eye of clarity and self-compassion, she takes the readers through growing up as an outcast/rebel n Austin, Texas. Loving music, on the scene, though not part of what many think of as "Texas music," she drifts to Los Angeles Kathy Valentine stumbled into pop history as the bass player of the GoGos, the first all-girl band to top the BILLBOARD Top 200 Albums chart. But in many ways, she grew up the alienated, washed-out child of the first wave of divorced parents who got lost along the way. With an eye of clarity and self-compassion, she takes the readers through growing up as an outcast/rebel n Austin, Texas. Loving music, on the scene, though not part of what many think of as "Texas music," she drifts to Los Angeles, moves through all the changes young musicians do. Bands that dead end, dreams that seem impossible, loving music, the frustration of being not quite sure how to make it happen and the white knuckle passion of not being able to let go. Running into Charlotte Caffey on Christmas Eve at the famed Whiskey A Go Go, fate enters. Substituting for the original bass player, it is a gateway to the life most never get to live. Written through journals, letters, talks with friends and the desire to make sense of it all, she brings a sense of how the climb builds, the grind wears you down and the momentum both pins you to the moment -- and makes you believe it's so much more. There is no self-pity, no big baller tone. Instead, she deconstructs how it happens (the good, the bad, the falling apart) without being overly dishy OR descending into laundry lists of "benders I've been on." She makes her point, tells her story, owns her stuff, even identifies how it feels in the moment. It's half to write about music, but it's even harder to write about the way the life when it's taking off or unraveling feels. With a bass player's sense of rhythm and a lead guitarist's sense of detail to lift the melody, Valentine channels her primary skills to drive her words. AND like Eve Ensler, she takes you through a world of the very famous in a moment when all things seems possible without ever making those names more than buddies you hang out with. Her ability to humanize the famous, while sharing her own truth is a wonderful balancing act. If you loved pop music, punk or new wave music, the early days of MTV, youth culture or young women making things happen in spite of how hard it can be, this is a clear-eyed accounting with just enough gear talk even a musician can enjoy. Easy reading, some wonderful insights, a good dose of personal awareness -- and her own phoenix rising from the ashes of decadence moment -- make this a quick, fun, nourishing read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Fantastic, engaging, well written memoir of one member of a groundbreaking band (I want the other four to write their books immediately please and thank you). I laughed, I cried (the line "Charlotte, it's Kathy, and I've been sober for four months" had me absolutely weeping on the couch this morning), I'm going to spend the rest of the day searching for concert clips on YouTube. An excellent rock bio. Fantastic, engaging, well written memoir of one member of a groundbreaking band (I want the other four to write their books immediately please and thank you). I laughed, I cried (the line "Charlotte, it's Kathy, and I've been sober for four months" had me absolutely weeping on the couch this morning), I'm going to spend the rest of the day searching for concert clips on YouTube. An excellent rock bio.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Todd

    I've read dozens of rock music memoirs (and autobiographies), and this one stands out in several ways. Kathy Valentine's writing voice (and style) is not like the typical rock memoir writing voice of other memoirs I've read. For instance, Steven Tyler's book was like reading a transcript of one of his conversations, and this got very old after a while (see my review on Tyler's book). Valentine's work was closer to a story she was telling to her reader, in well defined English. The only other roc I've read dozens of rock music memoirs (and autobiographies), and this one stands out in several ways. Kathy Valentine's writing voice (and style) is not like the typical rock memoir writing voice of other memoirs I've read. For instance, Steven Tyler's book was like reading a transcript of one of his conversations, and this got very old after a while (see my review on Tyler's book). Valentine's work was closer to a story she was telling to her reader, in well defined English. The only other rock memoir I've read that accomplishes this voice (or style) is Sting's, Broken Music. It's a nice, down to earth style. On a different note, Valentine's book has no inhibitions. She details things that, quite frankly, I was surprised she detailed. The first few chapters, about her formative years in Austin, Texas were interesting. However, I wondered why she went into so much detail about them, since they were not readily connected to the latter part of her book detailing her experiences with the Go-Go's, except her relationship with her father (I thought she tied that in quite nicely). I also love that she wrote the book like a musician would. She detailed musical styles, playing styles, influences, equipment she used, etc. However, I did not like the one back-handed compliment she gave the Runaways: ". . . wishing they weren't so contrived, I nevertheless found myself rooting for the band." (p.68) I was first introduced to the Go-Go's the summer before my Junior year in high school, 1982, when I went to see the film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and "We've Got the Beat" was the opening track. I had no idea the band's roots were in punk, you'd never know it by listening to them. Well, not exactly, there is some miniscule hints here and there. I always viewed the Go-Go's as a bubble-gum pop band with catchy hooks. So they took a turn somewhere and Valentine explains this a bit in her book. Their sound is very 80s pop California, and at times a tiny bit edgy. The one thing I like most about Valentine's book is the fact that she teleports her reader back to the 70s and 80s. Having come of age in the 70s and early 80s, she definitely captured those decades and made me feel like I was back there. That takes real talent. Overall, this was a fun read, I enjoyed it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    This one surprised me. I am a huge Go Go's fan but Kathy always seemed to be in the background. This book was an excellent memoir of Kathy's childhood, teenage years, musical education and ultimate success. It was also a beautiful insight into addiction and sobriety. This book had a lot more depth, detail and heart than any other book about The Go Go's. Bravo Kathy! This one surprised me. I am a huge Go Go's fan but Kathy always seemed to be in the background. This book was an excellent memoir of Kathy's childhood, teenage years, musical education and ultimate success. It was also a beautiful insight into addiction and sobriety. This book had a lot more depth, detail and heart than any other book about The Go Go's. Bravo Kathy!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Carey Calvert

    In the video for the hit single “Head over Heels,” there’s a slow motion shot of Kathy Valentine as a 747 flys past her; it appears close, as if it’s hers alone yet takes off without her. Save for a cameo of drummer Gina Schock, who playfully sticks her head into the shot, Valentine stands alone, staring blissfully into the camera. This is my favorite part of the video. Last to join the all-female group, the Go-Gos, replacing former bassist Margot Olavarria, Valentine has penned the raucous and In the video for the hit single “Head over Heels,” there’s a slow motion shot of Kathy Valentine as a 747 flys past her; it appears close, as if it’s hers alone yet takes off without her. Save for a cameo of drummer Gina Schock, who playfully sticks her head into the shot, Valentine stands alone, staring blissfully into the camera. This is my favorite part of the video. Last to join the all-female group, the Go-Gos, replacing former bassist Margot Olavarria, Valentine has penned the raucous and well written All I Ever Wanted, A Rock 'N' Roll Memoir, alone. There’s no ghost writer, no as told to; nor in tiny letters, “with.” All I Ever Wanted is hers alone. Valentine co-wrote Head over Heels as well as another Go-Go hit, Vacation, also the name of their second album. It’s safe to assume that when reading “a rock 'n' roll memoir,” there’s going to be (cliché coming), plenty of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Plenty. It doesn’t dim Valentine’s plight: broken home, no true familial relationship, although her mom was at times her best buddy and budding frenemy, she too taking advantage of Valentine’s fame, money and sacrifices. "The Go-Go's had given me the family I'd longed to be a part of - except I didn't know how to be in a family." Valentine was to appear @sabookfest in April. She is from Austin and currently lives in Austin; her session was sure to be packed. I’ve had a chance to listen to her speak about the book through zoom videos and Instagram lives. ... and I was able to get a signed copy! In All I Ever Wanted, Valentine gets personal: abortion at 12, victim of home invasion with Carlene Carter (that story was wild) and drugs, did I mention drugs? But would we really expect less from our rock stars? There's rehab as well ("... secrecy on the addict's part and denial on everyone's part, keeps the game going"). But there's no harsher critic than Valentine herself: "My self-esteem, my identity, my family, my purpose were all encased in Go-Go's wrapping, tied up in band life. The pain felt greater than any loss I had endured." Along with The Cars and The Police, The Go-Go's were one of my favorite bands during their heyday. I saw them twice; once at the Garden and the other, at Roseland and while reading All I Ever Wanted, anytime a song was mentioned I'd stop reading, go directly to YouTube and watch the videos and live performances over and over ... and over; not only reliving a period of time but "The Go-Go's lived for fun." They'll always be a part of me. Ok, going to watch their videos just one more time.    

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kirsti

    Kathy Valentine was a struggling guitar player when she literally bumped into Charlotte Caffey from the Go-Go's in a club's bathroom on Christmas Eve. The bassist of the Go-Go's was sick, Caffey said. Could Valentine fill in? Did she know how to play the bass? Sure, said Valentine. Then she spent three days and nights learning to play the bass. Cocaine helped. Valentine became part of the first (and so far only) all-female band to reach number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. She cowrote Kathy Valentine was a struggling guitar player when she literally bumped into Charlotte Caffey from the Go-Go's in a club's bathroom on Christmas Eve. The bassist of the Go-Go's was sick, Caffey said. Could Valentine fill in? Did she know how to play the bass? Sure, said Valentine. Then she spent three days and nights learning to play the bass. Cocaine helped. Valentine became part of the first (and so far only) all-female band to reach number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. She cowrote two singles that were massive hits. And she consumed enormous quantities of drugs and alcohol, as did the other Go-Go's. This is a compelling memoir from someone who has never wanted to be a frontwoman. She has achieved commercial and artistic success despite being literally abandoned by one parent and all but abandoned by the other. In Valentine's career, she rarely experienced sexism from male musicians. They respected, supported, and went to bat for her. It was the nonperformers—the label heads, publicists, DJs, record company executives, concert promoters, music journalists, and so on—who created roadblocks for the band. If you aren't that interested in Valentine's life but want to know celebrity gossip, here's a brief recap: Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Sting, Lenny Kravitz, Clem Burke, Dave Stewart, Siobhan Fahey, Annie Lennox, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and many others. And all the other Go-Go's, of course. I still can't believe "I'm the Only One" was never released as a single. It was their best song, Valentine wrote it, and it would have made her even more successful.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Barry Hammond

    Saved from being the unruly, wild, almost delinquent child of a single mother who let her do as she pleased by a penchant for reading and rock 'n' roll, Kathy Valentine became a musician, a guitar player and the bassist in The Go-Go's, the first all girl band to have an album in the Billboard top ten. Her memoir contains the whole wild ride: sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll and her maturing as a sober person in her 30's. An interesting and thoroughly inspirational tale. - BH. Saved from being the unruly, wild, almost delinquent child of a single mother who let her do as she pleased by a penchant for reading and rock 'n' roll, Kathy Valentine became a musician, a guitar player and the bassist in The Go-Go's, the first all girl band to have an album in the Billboard top ten. Her memoir contains the whole wild ride: sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll and her maturing as a sober person in her 30's. An interesting and thoroughly inspirational tale. - BH.

  11. 4 out of 5

    J.H. Moncrieff

    My thanks to the reviewer who mentioned this memoir in her take on Belinda Carlisle's, and said it was so much better. It really was/is. As someone who wasn't a fan or follower of the Go-Go's, I had no clue who Valentine was, but her story was fascinating. I wasn't as invested in her childhood, though she keeps that period relatively brief before getting into how she hooked up with the band. Two things I really loved about this book that made it dramatically different from Carlisle's: though obvio My thanks to the reviewer who mentioned this memoir in her take on Belinda Carlisle's, and said it was so much better. It really was/is. As someone who wasn't a fan or follower of the Go-Go's, I had no clue who Valentine was, but her story was fascinating. I wasn't as invested in her childhood, though she keeps that period relatively brief before getting into how she hooked up with the band. Two things I really loved about this book that made it dramatically different from Carlisle's: though obviously Valentine had the same drug-and-booze issues, her memoir isn't about that. She discusses the shame she felt after her blackouts, or when she was high during pivotal performances, but the book is about so much more than that. It doesn't fall into a "And then I got high" pattern. Same with namedropping. While she of course mentions the stars and soon-to-be-famous she associated with, there's a humility to her story so that it doesn't come across as shameless bragging. I loved that she had loyal friends who stuck with her, no matter what her status was. She also doesn't strip anyone else bare. While she mentions others' addictions, she doesn't tell their stories--only her own. The initial break-up of the band was horrific for Valentine and the drummer, who were coldly dumped with no warning, and I probably loved the portion of her memoirs that came after this the most. Valentine is so real and relatable as she talks about how she self-destructed, her feelings of jealousy and resentment, self-doubt, and crippling depression. In spite of what she went through, there is none of the snarky little digs at the former band members that are found in Carlisle's memoir, so Valentine comes across as an extremely likeable, humble person. And I love that she has the insight now to see some of the ways the Go-Go's went wrong. You don't have to be a fan of the Go-Go's to get something out of this book. Valentine's story will be familiar to everyone who has a big dream and who is determined to go after it, even if it ends up looking different than you thought it would.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chase

    The Go-Go’s has always been my favorite band of all time. I can’t remember when I first heard them, but I know their music has always been in my life. In fact, “Vacation” is my second favorite song of all time. There are times when I hear that song, I feel like I’m hearing it for the first time. Kathy Valentine, the bass player for the Go-Go’s, brought that song to the group, and it became the title track for their second album and brings back the iconic images of the girls on water skis. In her The Go-Go’s has always been my favorite band of all time. I can’t remember when I first heard them, but I know their music has always been in my life. In fact, “Vacation” is my second favorite song of all time. There are times when I hear that song, I feel like I’m hearing it for the first time. Kathy Valentine, the bass player for the Go-Go’s, brought that song to the group, and it became the title track for their second album and brings back the iconic images of the girls on water skis. In her memoir, “All I Ever Wanted,” Valentine chronicles her childhood in Austin, Texas, through becoming a Go-Go, and the aftermath of their breakup and their first brief reunion. The book follows the typical rock-n-roll memoir: fame, drugs, sex, etc. However, Valentine maintains a straightforward narrative that roots itself in honesty and self-reflection. The title of the book, a line taken directly from the chorus of “Vacation,” is the thread that runs throughout her story. All she ever wanted was to play in a band. Not necessarily fame or fortune. As a lifelong fan of the Go-Go’s, I learned some things that I hadn’t known before and got a better understanding of the things I already did. I would recommend this book not only to fans but also anyone who appreciates women who rock.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    I'm no Jon Wurster, but I love a rock bio...and this is one of the best I've read...for a few reasons. Firstly, I wasn't that familiar with Kathy Valentine's story...growing up in Austin, TX...essentially left to raise herself...discovering and falling in love with rock and roll at just the right moment....and growing up waaaaay too fast. Secondly, I knew her only as "the bassist for the Go-Go's" which give short shrift to her songwriting, and the giant thumbprint she left on that band. Thirdly, I'm no Jon Wurster, but I love a rock bio...and this is one of the best I've read...for a few reasons. Firstly, I wasn't that familiar with Kathy Valentine's story...growing up in Austin, TX...essentially left to raise herself...discovering and falling in love with rock and roll at just the right moment....and growing up waaaaay too fast. Secondly, I knew her only as "the bassist for the Go-Go's" which give short shrift to her songwriting, and the giant thumbprint she left on that band. Thirdly, I just love books of rock and roll anecdotes, and there are plenty in this one...amidst a ton of booze and cocaine. Finally, I was somewhat relieved to see that despite including some of the acrimony and legal wrangling that ended the band, Valentine did not spend chapter upon chapter of going through ALL of it (there's the internet if you're curious about all the break-ups and lawsuits that she doesn't mention in the book.) Heavily recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Scott Nugent

    I love love loved this book. It literally reads like a thriller.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nestor Rychtyckyj

    As a child Kathy Valentine saw Suzi Quatro on a TV show while visiting her mother’s family in the UK and her ambition in life was determined. Suzi Quatro (unfortunately) never became the star in the US that she was overseas, but Kathy Valentine fulfilled her dreams by becoming a member of the Go-Go’s and achieving that stardom. This book reveals Kathy in all her highs and lows and highlights the special relationships that the five Go-Go’s had with each other. On the surface, the book reads a lot As a child Kathy Valentine saw Suzi Quatro on a TV show while visiting her mother’s family in the UK and her ambition in life was determined. Suzi Quatro (unfortunately) never became the star in the US that she was overseas, but Kathy Valentine fulfilled her dreams by becoming a member of the Go-Go’s and achieving that stardom. This book reveals Kathy in all her highs and lows and highlights the special relationships that the five Go-Go’s had with each other. On the surface, the book reads a lot like a typical rock & roll memoir – a band forms as part of the LA punk scene in the late 1970s, gets immensely popular locally, are ignored by every record company except one, become huge stars, break up in a few years and later reform. Throw in the usual drug and alcohol abuse and you have another cautionary tale about making it too quickly in the music industry. But Kathy is a perceptive and driven person who understands what she wants from life and makes no pretenses about achieving that dream. Her story begins in Austin, Texas where her parents divorce early in her childhood and she is raised by her mother who has her own views on raising her only child. It’s both horrifying and exhilarating to read about Kathy as a teen-ager living with minimal supervision and surrounded by drugs and never-ending parties. She does discover that she loves to play guitar and that becomes her main dream. After playing around in Austin she makes the move to LA and then in a couple of years gets her chance to fill in with the up-and-coming Go-Go’s. She does this so well that she replaces the original bass player and the Go-Go’s are on their way to multi-platinum stardom. We all know the story of the Go-Go’s. They succeed beyond their wildest dreams but this groundbreaking all-girl band breaks up after just three albums. Belinda Carlisle becomes a huge solo star and the other ex-Go-Go’s all achieve some measure of success. Except for Kathy. Her post-Go-Go’s career goes nowhere and her drug and alcohol problems continue to worsen. Her personal life does likewise and finally Kathy joins AA and goes clean. Through this process she reconnects with her former bandmates who have also had their problems and the Go-Go’s finally reunite. There are more trials and tribulations ahead for the band, but we know that the band is still together and a new documentary about them is coming this summer. All girl rock & roll bands have had a difficult path in the male-dominated music industry (The Runaways always come to mind), but the Go-Go’s broke through on their own. In fact, Kathy points out that her most reliable support came from her male musician friends. She also has a very direct and straightforward manner of writing which makes this book so fascinating to read. Throughout the book she’s very focused on the concept of the “band” and how to keep the band together through all of the stress and challenges that happen along the way. We find out that song-writing credits and management are almost as important as personal relationships in keeping a band together in the long run. For a variety of inexplicable reasons the Go-Go’s (and the Bangles) never seem to get the recognition and credit that they deserve (yeah – we’re talking about that supposed Rock & Roll Hall of whatever in Cleveland). Hopefully Kathy’s book and the upcoming documentary will finally rectify that situation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Snidely

    I do like many Go Go's songs and I wanted to like this book. I couldn't get there. The book and the author's attitudes strike me as having a lot in common with what I learned from reading the autobiographies of Michael Nesmith and of Graham Nash. About Nesmith's book my review said in part: "He reveals himself to be a person of limited talent who doesn't always understand what is going on around him. He has tried hard, maybe too hard, to be something that he isn't. .....he tries repeatedly to ma I do like many Go Go's songs and I wanted to like this book. I couldn't get there. The book and the author's attitudes strike me as having a lot in common with what I learned from reading the autobiographies of Michael Nesmith and of Graham Nash. About Nesmith's book my review said in part: "He reveals himself to be a person of limited talent who doesn't always understand what is going on around him. He has tried hard, maybe too hard, to be something that he isn't. .....he tries repeatedly to make you think this (rock music) is his world." About Graham Nash's book I wrote ".....you sing nice harmonies and have written a handful of decent songs in the last 40 years. You've been lucky in life despite having pretty poor judgement in friends and in appropriate behavior. ......... Don't take yourself too seriously..... " Valentine's good fortune and career success came only within the confines of her good luck in being asked to join the Go-Gos. Nothing she did before or after that band, which had a start/stop existence after its first run of 5 years or so in the 1980s, was much to write home about. So many comments to the effect of "all I wanted to do was rock and roll" and "we rock and rollers do this and that" got tiresome and almost seemed to be chants to reassure herself that there was some basis for her self-image. I'm not sure there was such a basis. A continuing saga beginning as a preteen (!) was a lifetime of substance abuse (until she went to AA), many short term romantic relationships and encounters, and a history of poor decisions. A mother who seemed unfit and disinterested in raising a child, leaving poor Kathy to have to figure out many things about life on her own. And not all of which she was able to do, or in time (like getting pregnant at age 12) Here's the thing for me - I'm a lifelong music lover and follower of the rock music scene. More a follower of the music and much less a follower of the musicians. I understand that creative people aren't always easy to get along with, don't always make good choices, sometimes burn bridges and break relationships they don't realize how much then need. Bands start and stop, musicians move from here to there. The huge talents, and y'all can make your own lists of who they are, are able to have productive and creative careers and produce growing important bodies of work over the years without needing to stay with the same band or the same musicians indefinitely. Even the better musicians with less prominent profiles get asked to join this band or that, or tour with this person, or do session work. None of that came her way. She tried her best, she tried to do more on her own. I frankly don't think she ever got there, employment and accomplishments outside of the Go-Gos success have been elusive. So in that regard, I found it to be a pretty sad story. I did make it to the end.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chuck Raffoni

    You don't have to be a Go-Go's fan, the band that Kathy Valentine is most known for, to enjoy this memoir. In fact, there is likely another book about the pioneering female pop/punk band in her as Valentine focuses on the twenty years from 1970-1990. An absent father and a a drug addicted mother who partied with her, her formative years were filled with abuse and neglect. Self belief and a love of music propels her journey to playing for the only Female Band to entirely write & perform a #1 Albu You don't have to be a Go-Go's fan, the band that Kathy Valentine is most known for, to enjoy this memoir. In fact, there is likely another book about the pioneering female pop/punk band in her as Valentine focuses on the twenty years from 1970-1990. An absent father and a a drug addicted mother who partied with her, her formative years were filled with abuse and neglect. Self belief and a love of music propels her journey to playing for the only Female Band to entirely write & perform a #1 Album, even to this day. There are great behind the scenes stories about touring with The Rolling Stones, The Police and other musicians that were vibrant in these years. Conflicts within the band that have led to their repeated break-ups, lawsuits and in-fighting are acknowledged but not dwelled upon and likely the most painful for Valentine , when she was kicked out of the band, is mentioned in the epilogue as it does not fall within the time frame of this memoir. The book also focuses on Valentine's own addictions and the impacts and lessons learned from those struggles. I have fallen out of the habit of reading, an activity I have loved nearly all of my life, but this book has reignited that interest. I spent an entire Spring Saturday reading and finishing this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    A surprisingly good book! I was never a huge Go-Go's fan, but I stumbled across their newish documentary on Showtime recently and it made me want to hear a bit more about them. I started by attempting to listen to Belinda Carlisle's autobiography because that was the only book I was aware of. Something about her voice or her writing or a combo of the 2 was super irritating and I quit listening after about 10 minutes. A more through search of Go-Go's books led to the discovery of Kathy's 2020 auto A surprisingly good book! I was never a huge Go-Go's fan, but I stumbled across their newish documentary on Showtime recently and it made me want to hear a bit more about them. I started by attempting to listen to Belinda Carlisle's autobiography because that was the only book I was aware of. Something about her voice or her writing or a combo of the 2 was super irritating and I quit listening after about 10 minutes. A more through search of Go-Go's books led to the discovery of Kathy's 2020 autobiography (Belinda's was published in 2010 I think.) Like Belinda, Kathy reads her own book, but unlike Belinda her voice doesn't grate and her writing is much more fluid. She also mixes in newly written music, which (like the book) was surprisingly entertaining. She tells a good story and comes across as a good person, which is funny because after we watched the documentary my husband had said that he liked her the best (I didn't come away with a favorite; for some reason the Go-Go's just don't elicit strong feelings - positive or negative - from me). I think my interest in the Go-Go's has been sated, but I may give Belinda's book another try since I paid for it. I'm also kinda curious now to compare her version of the band's story to Kathy's.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Finally, a memoir by a guitar player that talks about playing the guitar!!!!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ira Robbins

    well done. the writing is clear and honest, the rock and roll redemption story familiar but convincing. Some shockers.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    Like many young girls I became a fan of the Go-Go's because I liked the music and the whole first all female band flag. I was interested in reading a memoir by a band member. I was also curious b/c she is one of the few successful female bass players and was also involved in a lawsuit against the band. The writiting was sharp, written with short, concise sentences. I felt the writer gave enough details that I understood the events. Of course, with any celeb autobiography, you want that person to Like many young girls I became a fan of the Go-Go's because I liked the music and the whole first all female band flag. I was interested in reading a memoir by a band member. I was also curious b/c she is one of the few successful female bass players and was also involved in a lawsuit against the band. The writiting was sharp, written with short, concise sentences. I felt the writer gave enough details that I understood the events. Of course, with any celeb autobiography, you want that person to "dish all the dirt" on the people they've encountered. While she mentions many of the people in her life (ie. bandmates, celebs she met) it isn't that. She was also honest & up-front with details about her drinking, dating, drug use, etc. which I respected. She did a good job of painting a picture with her descriptions. Example quote: "Lazy and bored, I slumped in a corner armchair. Mom curled up on the sofa with a book and a cigarette, leaving it to burn a long ash in between puffs. Grandma knitted, her hands moving at amazing speed, seemingly producing nothing from the ball of yarn. Inside, warm and cozy, the smell of dinner mingled with antiseptic." My biggest critique is that the ending was abrupt & felt rushed. Most of the book was about her time as a member of the Go-Go's which I understand. I wanted to know about her life after the band, her marriage, becoming a mother, the starts & stops of the reunions, and most importantly, her lawsuit. But there was only a paragraph at the end summing up these things. Because the writing was so clear, I would have happily read a few more chapters/pages if it included these details.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mark Stevens

    Kathy Valentine is in the graffiti-covered toilet at The Whisky on Sunset Boulevard. It’s 1980. She’s there to see X (good call). Valentine bumps into fellow musician Charlotte Caffey and an invitation is extended—could Valentine fill in on bass for four upcoming gigs, two shows a night, around New Year’s Eve? Valentine fibs—sure, she can do it. Valentine is 21. But, as we soon find out reading the raw accounts in Valentine’s memoir All I Ever Wanted, she’s already got a wise old head. She’s not g Kathy Valentine is in the graffiti-covered toilet at The Whisky on Sunset Boulevard. It’s 1980. She’s there to see X (good call). Valentine bumps into fellow musician Charlotte Caffey and an invitation is extended—could Valentine fill in on bass for four upcoming gigs, two shows a night, around New Year’s Eve? Valentine fibs—sure, she can do it. Valentine is 21. But, as we soon find out reading the raw accounts in Valentine’s memoir All I Ever Wanted, she’s already got a wise old head. She’s not going to blow this chance. The morning after The Whisky encounter, Valentine borrows a bass—a small-bodied Fender Mustang—and gets to work learning the Go-Go’s material off a recording from one of their rehearsals. “Making my way through the tape, one thing became clear through the distortion of the cassette player: the Go-Go’s had some really good songs,” she writes. “I hadn’t realized that in my limited exposure to the band. Each tune had a distinct personality and sound, all of them powered by great drumming and melodies. They blended punk, pop, surf, and rock like no one else.” Onstage a few weeks later (back at The Whisky), it’s “near delirium … a rocket ship countdown.” It’s tempting to say, perhaps, something cliché such as “the rest is history.” But what makes All I Ever Wanted so compelling is that Valentine starts the memoir with this less-than-glamourous chance meeting (having been in The Whisky bathrooms around that era, I have a rough idea) and then takes us back. The first solid 100 pages (about a third of the book) deal with Valentine’s bumpy, tumultuous youth in Austin. Valentine grew up fast. An abortion at 12 years old will do that. So will getting high with your mother. So will navigating life with one parent whose basic approach is less than laissez-faire. Valentine writes that she “instinctively became self-sufficient, not needing much tending to.” But music “had calibrated the imbalances of my life for as long as I could remember: listening to table jukeboxes, dancing the twist with my mom, singing along with bouncy bubblegum melodies.” And then she encountered the blues and a band called Cream. “I definitely had no idea what ‘the sunshine of your love’ was, but I couldn’t wait to find out.” By seventh grade, Valentine was “smoking pot like a pro” and skipping school and this might all sound sort of typical or predicable memoir fodder but Valentine writes with such candor and a cutting, self-effacing style that it elevates above ordinary fare. Such as post abortion: “From then on, I had an unspoken mantra: got a problem? Deal with it. Expel it. Chop it off. Abort it and move on. It took me a long time to understand or cultivate compassion. The evidence of the abortion was there, on the bloody pad I had to wear, and my cramping uterus, in my desolated capacity for grace. But more than that, I had lost my childhood, vacuumed out with the zygote, and with that loss, my mom and I had become like a couple of girlfriends getting out of jam.” Valentine carries this gutsy determination into her musical career—first with an Austin outfit called The Textones that relocated to Los Angeles, and then taking full advantage of her chance with the Go-Go’s as the New Year’s Eve fill-in stint turned into an offer to join the band full time. First album, first big tour, and soon Valentine is caught up in the dizzy swirl of rock and roll stardom. Valentine is frank about her relentless, insatiable intake of drugs and alcohol, the band fights large and small, hotel life, van life, fighting for redemption after a sophomore release fails to impress, and her relationship with Blondie drummer Clem Burke. In one harrowing scene, Valentine recounts being trapped by an intruder in her house—along with Carlene Carter and Charlie Sexton—and balances “terror, self-preservation, survival, and indecision.” By this point, we know Valentine well enough to know that the indecision won’t last long. Valentine is especially candid in discussing the split of the Go-Go’s cash, how a band that appears together on stage is truly five contractors whose income is inflated (or not) by songwriting credits. Valentine calls out unfairness where she sees it, including the surprise decision to shut the band down. Valentine is vulnerable enough to admit to envy when several of her bandmates’ careers blossom post Go-Go’s and she takes us through the business of going sober. Valentine sneaks in terrific encounters with Keith Richards, The Police, Rod Stewart (that one’s a doozy), Bob Dylan, Lenny Kravitz, Dave Stewart and on and on. (Valentine is a female rocker Forrest Gump. Or maybe that’s just the way it is up there in the stratosphere.) For those who hung around L.A. in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, there are references to the Plugz and The Plimsouls and the aforementioned X. You get the feeling that Valentine had an effortless, easy way of making friends and expanding her network. In the end, Valentine puts you in the middle of one of the most influential bands—not just all-girl bands—of the 1980’s. As Valentine admits, the invite to join the Go-Go’s was a fluke that particular night at The Whisky. Or was it? From an early, early age Valentine had learned how a songs had the “potency” to deliver deep responses. Cream “opened a portal to an unexplored hidden self, making my heart ache with anticipation of what might be waiting to be discovered.” I It’s not about hanging out with Kathy and the Go-Go’s that makes All I Ever Wanted rock. It’s hanging around all that desire. Final note: I highly recommend the audio book version, which includes Valentine compositions between chapters. Definitely adds to the experience.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Robert Sparrenberger

    A lot of booze and a lot of coke. Wow. A musical memoir from the bass player of the Go go’s. Not too focused on the music because they only had three albums in their short careers and more about life on the road and all of the partying. It was interesting if you like rock and roll.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessie Drew

    This rock n roll memoir is filled with all the juicy stories you’d want to hear as well as the pain filled personal history of the writer. However, and this is a good thing IMO, no huge tragedies or punishing stories of death. We get a close look at The Go-Gos and watch a female musician’s trajectory in the 70s and 80s. Def recommend. 👍🏽

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cassie

    Really more like 4.5 stars. The Go-Go’s are one of my all-time favorite bands. Kathy’s story is entertaining and open.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Kathy Valentine definitely had a book in her. Her life read like a novel. I really enjoyed this audiobook.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Basic rock memoir. Highlights the excess. The f word seems gratuitously used as if the author wants to highlight for us that she’s really rebellious and rock and roll. It gets more real at the end but one senses a lingering lack of self awareness.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Scott Delgado

    I'm just a casual fan of the Go-Go's, but I love a good rock memoir. I also like when the authors don't hold back. Kathy Valentine doesn't hold back, and she shares gritty details about her youth and honest emotional recollections of how she felt following the breakup of her band. If you are a fan of the Go-Go's, I'd say you're certain to enjoy this. I'm just a casual fan of the Go-Go's, but I love a good rock memoir. I also like when the authors don't hold back. Kathy Valentine doesn't hold back, and she shares gritty details about her youth and honest emotional recollections of how she felt following the breakup of her band. If you are a fan of the Go-Go's, I'd say you're certain to enjoy this.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Loved it. Great story. Thanks for sharing Kathy.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Craig Rowland

    All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir by Kathy Valentine, the bass player of the Go-Go’s, was published last year. It follows the first Go-Go’s memoir, Lips Unsealed by Belinda Carlisle, which came out eleven years ago, and it was inevitable that I would make comparisons between the two. One contrast that I found striking is how well the Valentine memoir was written. I had no suspicion that it could have been transcribed from interviews and it thus read like a written book. Within the memoir All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir by Kathy Valentine, the bass player of the Go-Go’s, was published last year. It follows the first Go-Go’s memoir, Lips Unsealed by Belinda Carlisle, which came out eleven years ago, and it was inevitable that I would make comparisons between the two. One contrast that I found striking is how well the Valentine memoir was written. I had no suspicion that it could have been transcribed from interviews and it thus read like a written book. Within the memoir Valentine revealed she had an English degree and is a songwriter after all so she is perfectly capable of writing her own memoir. I did not see any additional author credit so it could very well be that the genuine Valentine herself penned it. She had kept her old journals and calendars so had instant cues to trigger memories. In regards to Lips Unsealed, however, I got the impression that Carlisle’s book was more of a series of transcribed interviews. The only other comparison I wish to make about the two memoirs is that during the Go-Go’s heyday in the early eighties, the five band members were certainly proverbial rock ‘n’ roll party girls who liked to drink and do drugs. Not all of them got deep into drugs, mind, as Jane Wiedlin and Gina Schock never became addicts as Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey and Valentine herself were. Yet both Valentine and Carlisle spent the latter parts of their memoirs documenting their quests towards sobriety.Valentine wrote a rapid read, which as a fan I naturally lapped up, but seeing that the book was comprised of 44 chapters over 265 pages, it meant that the reader was never far from a new development in her life. In spite of their brevity, the chapters were loaded with reminiscences which were not tainted by the perspective of today–often a flaw in memoirs. By Valentine’s own admission, she retained all band records (“I keep everything!”) so when she wrote about getting high as a 22-year-old, it read like the words of a young woman, and not of the 62-year-old she is now.We relive the moment when Valentine had her first guitar lesson at her alternative (dare I say “hippie”) school:“I doubt that I knew my hands on that guitar would forever shape my life. But while I strummed those songs, the diaphanous thread that tugs us down any given path fastened to me like a strand of spider’s silk. It would stay intact and attached forever, with music on the other end pulling me forward.”Valentine was the last of the Go-Go’s to join the band–in the ensemble that made them world-famous–and described the meeting with Caffey in the washroom of the Whisky a Go Go on Christmas night, 1980, when she asked Valentine to play bass for them for eight upcoming Go-Go’s shows. I learned more of the rough days of early Go-Go’s history from Valentine’s book, yet I acknowledge that Carlisle had more to say before Valentine had even joined the band.At first, critics looked at the Go-Go’s as a novelty band of cute chicks, and ignored that they played their instruments, wrote all their material, and had hundreds of gigs behind them. Their punk roots gave them an edge that kept them from being branded pure pop, yet it was still hard for them to snag a record deal. As women in such a male-dominated industry, they experienced the sting of sexism, yet, as Valentine would say repeatedly throughout her memoir, never from their fellow male musicians. The men whom she gigged with or otherwise encountered in showbiz always showed her respect as a musician. It was always the industry types such as record executives, radio people and interviewers who acted like sexists. This was reflected in the questions they asked:“Reporters never asked our opinions on anything of substance. There were no conversations about sexism or feminism. The most common question remained ‘What’s it like to be in an all-girl band?'”Being part of the Go-Go’s enabled her to meet many of her rock heroes, including Keith Richards. I especially liked Valentine’s use of simile in her account of meeting him:“I couldn’t take my eyes off Keith, watching how he moved and played. His signature rhythms were like algebra, the reduced essence of each song.”I consider myself a Go-Go’s fan and own some of their albums and follow the band’s as well as each member’s career, yet I don’t follow the gossip. Valentine wrote about the behind-the-scenes panic that ensued after Wiedlin announced her departure from the band, and the Go-Go’s urgent need to find a replacement. She took us along on the recruitment project that eventually hired Paula Jean Brown as the newest Go-Go. Unfortunately Brown had only two Rock in Rio shows under her belt before the band broke up in 1985.Valentine did not shy away from the scandals or the low points and wrote openly and maturely about what drove the band members apart and what led them back together again. On more than one occasion she dropped hints of resentment towards the Bangles, who followed the Go-Go’s superstardom while her own group of “big sisters” collapsed. Her alcoholism impeded her attempts to establish herself after the band broke up, and a phone call to sober Caffey saved her life with her introduction to AA.The memoir ends formally with the band reuniting in 1990 but she summed up the thirty years that followed in a two-page epilogue. Truth be told, I thought the Go-Go’s would never perform again in their famous lineup of five when I heard that Valentine had been fired from the band in 2012. In All I Ever Wanted, Valentine poured her heart out confessing how much she felt most comfortable being part of a band. And in order to remain part of the Go-Go’s, both Valentine and her fellow band members resolved to work things out. Now sober and reunited with her beloved band, Kathy’s happiness bleeds between the lines.

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