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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 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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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 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. 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.

  3. 4 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. 4 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 5 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!

  7. 4 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.

  8. 5 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

    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.

  10. 4 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 4 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.

  14. 5 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.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Loved it. Great story. Thanks for sharing Kathy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy

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

  17. 5 out of 5

    Fran

    Listened to the audio book version, which I’m so glad I did. Kathy V reads it herself & you get a bonus of short rockin’ ditties between sections where the lyrics describe what’s coming up (in a non-spoiler way). Very smart thing to do. I give this book a lot of love for being a great distraction from my obsessive reading about all things coronavirus in the WaPo, NYT, etc as I/we weather the lockdown. I also give her & The Go-Go’s huge props for being the first & only (so far) all-girl band to h Listened to the audio book version, which I’m so glad I did. Kathy V reads it herself & you get a bonus of short rockin’ ditties between sections where the lyrics describe what’s coming up (in a non-spoiler way). Very smart thing to do. I give this book a lot of love for being a great distraction from my obsessive reading about all things coronavirus in the WaPo, NYT, etc as I/we weather the lockdown. I also give her & The Go-Go’s huge props for being the first & only (so far) all-girl band to have their level of chart-topping success. They deserve respect for sticking to their guns as musicians & song writers & knowing what they wanted. They didn’t win every battle to be taken seriously, but they won quite a few crucial ones. As a book, overall, I think it’s just OK. With the exception of Patty Smith, rock & roll memoirs aren’t usually great works of literature. It felt very repetitive & dull at times, & light on interesting observations. It just doesn’t go very deep. Parties & drugging are only so interesting to read about. But given the space this book occupies among memoirs, the welcome distraction, & reminders of a simpler time in my life (I was 11-13 yrs old in their heyday) - it was def worth a read - or listen in my case.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    When I heard that Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go's had written a memoir, it immediately went onto my to-read wish list. The Go-Go's were huge during the early 1980s, the years I was at university; I owned and loved their first three albums. They were -- and (almost 40 years later) remain -- the most successful female rock band of all time -- the first and only all-girl rock group to top the American music charts by writing and playing their own songs. Valentine is two years older than me (born in When I heard that Kathy Valentine of the Go-Go's had written a memoir, it immediately went onto my to-read wish list. The Go-Go's were huge during the early 1980s, the years I was at university; I owned and loved their first three albums. They were -- and (almost 40 years later) remain -- the most successful female rock band of all time -- the first and only all-girl rock group to top the American music charts by writing and playing their own songs. Valentine is two years older than me (born in 1959), and "All I Ever Wanted: A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir" covers the first 31 years of her life (up to 1990). The title is taken from a line of the Go-Go's hit song, "Vacation," which she wrote (with some later input from the others)("Vacation, all I ever wanted..."). Her British mother and American father met when he was in England with the U.S. military; they married and initially settled in Austin, Texas. They split when Kathy was 3, and she and her mother moved back to Austin, renting housing in rundown neighbourhoods. Mom was very much a laissez-faire parent, who did drugs with her daughter and slept with one of her teenaged male friends. (Yikes!!) Rules, boundaries and consequences were unknown in the Valentine household. Without few limits on her behaviour, young Kathy graduated from smoking cigarettes to drinking to smoking pot to harder drugs. She had an abortion at age 12 (!). She skipped school frequently, and her house became a hangout for other delinquents. While visiting her grandmother in England over Christmas 1973, when she was 14, Kathy saw Suzy Quatro on TV -- clad in a leather jumpsuit, playing a bass guitar and leading a band. "...this was a female. Doing what I had only seen men do before... She was a fucking earthquake," Kathy writes in Chapter 8. Back in Texas, she started taking guitar lessons at the alternative school where she was a student and hanging out in Austin's many bars, where was encouraged by iconic local musicians such as Jimmie Vaughan (brother of Stevie Ray). On another visit to England a few years later, she briefly joined a fledgling all-girls band which later became known as Girlschool. Back in Austin, she and a friend formed a band called The Textones and moved to LA. In December 1980, she ran into Charlotte Caffey of the Go-Go's -- already a well-known local band with punk rock roots -- in the washroom of a bar. The Go-Go's bass player was sick, and they had four shows booked at the Whisky-a-Go-Go over New Year's Eve. Did Kathy play bass? She didn't, but lied said yes, went home, borrowed a bass and learned to play it and all the Go-Go's song over the next few days. The band decided to make the arrangement permanent, and the rest is history. The book ends in 1990 with the Go-Go's first reunion. (There's a brief epilogue that covers what's happened in the 30+ years since then.) There have been more reunions (and breakups... and reunions) in the years since then -- as Kathy sharply observes, the band members had a tendency to gloss over or ignore small problems until they became too big to ignore. Disputes over songwriting credits & royalties, combined with drug and alcohol abuse, were what initially tore the band apart; sobriety helped bring them back together again. After one blackout too many, Kathy finally resolved to stop drinking in early 1989, and joined Alcoholics Anonymous. She has remained sober in the 30+ years since then. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads. There are lots of rock & roll memoirs out there, including a recent influx of ones by female rockers (some better than others). All rock & roll memoirs include the usual/expected elements of sex, drugs and rock & roll, and there's plenty of all three here (along with some great anecdotes where famous names are dropped liberally). What sets this one apart (aside from the female rocker angle) is the quality of the writing, the depth of the introspection, and Kathy's raw honesty and willingness to share her pain as well as joy. Well worth a read, especially if you're a fan of the Go-Go's '80s music &/or rock memoirs generally. A new documentary about the Go-Go's was just released on Showtime in the U.S. I hope we'll eventually be able to see it here in Canada.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike Perreault

    When I heard Kathy Valentine was writing a book I knew I had to hold out for the audio version. I've always found listening to books by musicians and comedians (like David Byrne's excellent "How Music Works" or Martin Short's "I Must Say) is preferable because the artists' voices are essential tools to convey their messages. The same is not true of other authors (I cringe when I hear Stephen King is narrating one of his books, for instance). Anyway, KV's book was all *I* ever wanted in a Rock 'n When I heard Kathy Valentine was writing a book I knew I had to hold out for the audio version. I've always found listening to books by musicians and comedians (like David Byrne's excellent "How Music Works" or Martin Short's "I Must Say) is preferable because the artists' voices are essential tools to convey their messages. The same is not true of other authors (I cringe when I hear Stephen King is narrating one of his books, for instance). Anyway, KV's book was all *I* ever wanted in a Rock 'n' Roll memoir, especially by someone whom I've had a crush on since I was a music-loving 12-year-old in the suburbs. We got the obligatory superhero origin story: learning about muscle memory playing pool, the awe she felt when she first communed with electric guitar, and the hurry-up-and-wait quality of her start in the business. Fans of the Go-Go's know the story of how they got together. It's legendary by now, but hearing it in her voice made it human, accessible, and raw. She, at times, acted like a terrible, irresponsible, damaging person. She was also wonderful to everybody but herself at times . But we aren't who we are on our best day or our worst day...it's the compromises and conquests along the way that define our mettle and belie our character. As a person of character, Kathy Valentine was as late a bloomer as she was an early one in the world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll...and that's entirely forgivable and understandable considering what she was given to work with. I wanted fan service and I got it. I wanted to hear how they recorded "Beauty and the Beat", "Vacation", and "Talk Show" and the antics between the lines of the songs and behind the scenes of the videos and photoshoots. Fun stuff. I also wanted to hear the soundtrack she released in hints and teases over the last year and loved the hell out that, as I loved her LP "Light Years". It was all Kathy and as unique as she is. Without getting into spoilers, I wanted to hear more about "God Bless the Go-Go's" (my favourite album of theirs) and the gossipy side of me wanted the dirt on the lawsuit she levelled against the rest of the band, but in the end, it didn't matter. The rest more than made up for what I *thought* I wanted. KV has some great lines, turns of phrases, and the narrative is linear but not in a plodding 5Ws kind of way. There were no gimmicks or tricks to obscure the frank tone of the work, either. I appreciated that. "All I Ever Wanted" is honest, apologetic when necessary (and she had a lot to be sorry for), unflinching, and cool, just like Kathy. What it's not is "funny". I might have laughed once or twice. I don't know Kathy from Adam, but my hunch is she has used humour to get out of or mitigate uncomfortable moments or situations in her life as a crutch. There was no time for that in this book, thankfully, as it would have seemed a cop-out on more than a few occasions. Do we know what Kathy Valentine always wanted? After reading the book we do. Did she get it? Read the book...better yet, listen to it. Go-Go or not, it's a compelling story told by someone I can honestly say I admire.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rob Hermanowski

    When "Our Lips are Sealed" hit the airwaves in 1981, I became completely enamored with the Go-Go's, and the intervening 39 years have only deepened my love for this band. Kathy Valentine's mesmerizing autobiography only covers her life until 1990 (thankfully she has promised to write a sequel!), but what an eventful, frequently harrowing life that has been. KV writes in a fluid, conversational style (much enhanced by listening to the audiobook version, narrated by KV herself), and she pulls no p When "Our Lips are Sealed" hit the airwaves in 1981, I became completely enamored with the Go-Go's, and the intervening 39 years have only deepened my love for this band. Kathy Valentine's mesmerizing autobiography only covers her life until 1990 (thankfully she has promised to write a sequel!), but what an eventful, frequently harrowing life that has been. KV writes in a fluid, conversational style (much enhanced by listening to the audiobook version, narrated by KV herself), and she pulls no punches. All the self-doubt, determination, chaos, uncertainty, exhilaration, and shame that accompanied her rock 'n' roll story are in this book, told with breathtaking honesty, deep respect, and much love. As a wonderful bonus, KV composed and performed new songs for a "soundtrack to the book" that function as musical interludes between many of the chapters (these are integrated in the audiobook, but also available through the usual musical streaming sites). I am grateful to add this amazing book to all the brilliant music that Kathy Valentine has already created, and very much looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next!

  21. 4 out of 5

    John

    This is a pretty solid rock / alcohol recovery narrative. I didn't get a huge amount of insight into what really made the GoGos click -- I think maybe I got a little more depth from the Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey sections of Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk. One thing that was interesting is that Valentine reports that she was not sleazed on by men: In fact, her greatest supporters when she was starting out in Austin were male musicians. So . . . maybe not the great This is a pretty solid rock / alcohol recovery narrative. I didn't get a huge amount of insight into what really made the GoGos click -- I think maybe I got a little more depth from the Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey sections of Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk. One thing that was interesting is that Valentine reports that she was not sleazed on by men: In fact, her greatest supporters when she was starting out in Austin were male musicians. So . . . maybe not the greatest read, but I will tell you that Kathy Valentine is great: I was kind of bowled over by her conversation with Marc Maron in his WTF podcast. She promises a sequel which may be better.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    One of the best autobiographies I've ever read, by a talented artist who can definitely add "writer" to the list of talents she's mastered! I loved it because: (1) The Go-Go's have taken up space in my ears and my brain for almost 40 years. I loved their music (especially the vastly underrated "Talk Show"). So to get a peek inside the band, how Kathy became a member, and their meteoric success was really fascinating. and also (2) Kathy writes a great deal about herself and her family, and while many One of the best autobiographies I've ever read, by a talented artist who can definitely add "writer" to the list of talents she's mastered! I loved it because: (1) The Go-Go's have taken up space in my ears and my brain for almost 40 years. I loved their music (especially the vastly underrated "Talk Show"). So to get a peek inside the band, how Kathy became a member, and their meteoric success was really fascinating. and also (2) Kathy writes a great deal about herself and her family, and while many writers only reveal "so much" Kathy is very forthcoming about her life. She writes in a way that is so honest. She calls out the shortcomings of others, but also is fair enough to point that same critical spotlight on herself. It was a very well done book that I read *almost* in one sitting and have an urge to read again! It only covers part of the story so far, so I hope Kathy will write Part Two soon!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I like the Go Go's music but really didn't know much about them. One fun fact though, Jane was born seven miles west of the village where I live. She was born in Oconomowoc , WI. Say it with me..." Oconomowoc." Another fun fact, notice that every other letter in Oconomowoc is an "O". One more fun fact, Jane lived in West Allis, WI until she was six. West Allis is a suburb of Milwaukee, actually connected to Milwaukee on three sides. She then moved out to the West coast with her family. I digress. I like the Go Go's music but really didn't know much about them. One fun fact though, Jane was born seven miles west of the village where I live. She was born in Oconomowoc , WI. Say it with me..." Oconomowoc." Another fun fact, notice that every other letter in Oconomowoc is an "O". One more fun fact, Jane lived in West Allis, WI until she was six. West Allis is a suburb of Milwaukee, actually connected to Milwaukee on three sides. She then moved out to the West coast with her family. I digress.... this book is mostly about Karen Valentine. Pretty much the usual rock and roll story, but she was skillful in her writing and insightful, which made it more interesting than most of these types of books. Many days at work, (retired accountant ) whenever I needed to be energized, I'd put their cd on, put on my headphones, and rock away while I made the numbers behave. If you are at all familiar with the group, read this book, you'll enjoy it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sean Courtney

    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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Craig Comes

    I have been a GoGo's fan since 1983 and have already read Belinda's LIPS UNSEALED and John Doe's UNDER THE BIG BLACK SUN. I am also diagnosed Moderate ADD with Depression and two of Kathy's songs, "Can't Stop The World" and "Head Over Heals," helped me understand myself and point the way to healing. That said, Kathy's book is a wild ride through Austin in the Seventies, LA and beyond in the Eighties as she constantly searches for herself. Equal parts gut wrenching and inspiring, her story speaks I have been a GoGo's fan since 1983 and have already read Belinda's LIPS UNSEALED and John Doe's UNDER THE BIG BLACK SUN. I am also diagnosed Moderate ADD with Depression and two of Kathy's songs, "Can't Stop The World" and "Head Over Heals," helped me understand myself and point the way to healing. That said, Kathy's book is a wild ride through Austin in the Seventies, LA and beyond in the Eighties as she constantly searches for herself. Equal parts gut wrenching and inspiring, her story speaks volume about the human survival instinct, and how inconsequential moments can change your life. And her writing puts you right there. My only qualm is that the book does not get into making GOD BLESS THE GOGOS or her incredible solo album, LIGHT YEARS. I read the whole thing in two sittings and could not put it down. Highly recommended.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jay Gabler

    This is a remarkable story, and Kathy Valentine's sharp wit makes All I Ever Wanted a welcome page-turner. She's articulate about everything from the vicissitudes of friendship to the experience of being on quaaludes. ("They gave me no manic energy or buzz; I just sloshed around like a raw egg in a bowl.") She finds humor in moments like her dad proudly telling her that he keeps her Go-Go's record next to his Merle Haggard LP. "High praise," she writes, "even if it was an alphabetical placement. This is a remarkable story, and Kathy Valentine's sharp wit makes All I Ever Wanted a welcome page-turner. She's articulate about everything from the vicissitudes of friendship to the experience of being on quaaludes. ("They gave me no manic energy or buzz; I just sloshed around like a raw egg in a bowl.") She finds humor in moments like her dad proudly telling her that he keeps her Go-Go's record next to his Merle Haggard LP. "High praise," she writes, "even if it was an alphabetical placement." When you finish All I Ever Wanted, you'll be even more impressed with the author and her badass bandmates. I reviewed All I Ever Wanted for The Current.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    As a fan of the Go-Go's, I was excited to hear Kathy Valentine on Marc Maron's WTF podcast last month. Luckily for me, I was able to get hold of the book at my library during the closure because I've continued to work part-time in my library building. This memoir focuses mainly on Kathy's life leading up to when she was in the Go-Go's and the aftermath of that experience. It's always fun to read about the other side of what was happening to a performer whom you watched or listened to, even when As a fan of the Go-Go's, I was excited to hear Kathy Valentine on Marc Maron's WTF podcast last month. Luckily for me, I was able to get hold of the book at my library during the closure because I've continued to work part-time in my library building. This memoir focuses mainly on Kathy's life leading up to when she was in the Go-Go's and the aftermath of that experience. It's always fun to read about the other side of what was happening to a performer whom you watched or listened to, even when it's not, and you discover that a gifted musician like Valentine struggled with addiction which contributed to how her career evolved. A must-read for Go-Go's fans!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Josef

    Funny, sad, entertaining, uplifting are just a few words that describe this book. It is really an honest account of Kathy's life in the Go-Go's, the years leading up to her big breakthrough and the years after the initial break up. With her roots deeply seeded in the music scene of Austin TX I really enjoyed reading about her days with the Violators and the beginning of Raul's, a punk venue in Austin. Her years with the Go-Go's are interesting and also give a good insight into the music business Funny, sad, entertaining, uplifting are just a few words that describe this book. It is really an honest account of Kathy's life in the Go-Go's, the years leading up to her big breakthrough and the years after the initial break up. With her roots deeply seeded in the music scene of Austin TX I really enjoyed reading about her days with the Violators and the beginning of Raul's, a punk venue in Austin. Her years with the Go-Go's are interesting and also give a good insight into the music business and IRS Records in particular. Her life after the break up was often in shatters due to alcohol and drug abuse but it was nice to see that eventually she made it through the worst and came out sober and alive. Definitely recommended for anyone interested in '70s and '80s pop culture.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Suzannah

    Valentine's story has everything-- sex, drugs, and rock n' roll-- but the music is the undercurrent that carries it all, which is astounding, given everything she covers here. It is most definitely a rock-n-roll memoir. I appreciate how gently and generously Valentine treats the other Go-Go's, and all of the people she writes about, while still being honest and straightforward. This is a woman who not only knows how to be a member of the sisterhood, but of the human race. And she knows how to te Valentine's story has everything-- sex, drugs, and rock n' roll-- but the music is the undercurrent that carries it all, which is astounding, given everything she covers here. It is most definitely a rock-n-roll memoir. I appreciate how gently and generously Valentine treats the other Go-Go's, and all of the people she writes about, while still being honest and straightforward. This is a woman who not only knows how to be a member of the sisterhood, but of the human race. And she knows how to tell a story. The sentences are good. The pacing is even. I bought this book because Cheryl Strayed recommended it. She wasn't wrong. The only thing I regret is that for a week now, "Vacation" has playing in my head, a good song, but I hate earworms.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I'll preface this by saying I was not a fan of the Go-Go's, wasn't not a fan either, I just didn't pay much attention to them so knew nothing about Kathy Valentine. She had a really difficult childhood with a very strange mother who was not at all nurturing and gave Kathy way too much freedom at a very young age which lead her to make poor decisions that in turn had her ending up in dangerous situations. Reading this memoir, I couldn't help but think that Kathy must have been difficult to work w I'll preface this by saying I was not a fan of the Go-Go's, wasn't not a fan either, I just didn't pay much attention to them so knew nothing about Kathy Valentine. She had a really difficult childhood with a very strange mother who was not at all nurturing and gave Kathy way too much freedom at a very young age which lead her to make poor decisions that in turn had her ending up in dangerous situations. Reading this memoir, I couldn't help but think that Kathy must have been difficult to work with. A lot of the book was about her drinking and drugging. It's kind of amazing that she is even here to tell the tale! Bottom line - I would give it 3.5 stars.

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