All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘N Roll Memoir by Kathy Valentine

All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘N Roll Memoir by Kathy Valentine
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Genre: Memoir, Non-Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A 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.
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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.

What a rock and roll life!

I might be showing my age, but I remember the Go-Go’s. I rocked out to their tunes and thought, wow, this is cool that they are chicks and playing high-octane music. I didn’t know their names until later, but that didn’t matter. They were cool.

When I saw this book, I had to pick it up. First, I read other reviews stating it was blunt in it’s honesty and forthright in the author’s approach. Those reviewers weren’t kidding. Kathy Valentine tells the story of her life and doesn’t pull punches. She talks about her addictions to drink and drugs, but also to music. She is honest about the worry she wouldn’t fit in with the other Go-Go’s, but also her complete fear she’d be rudderless after the band splits. She’s honest about her romances and talks about her dark times in such bluntness that I felt for her. I felt like I was there with her.

If you’re looking for a rock autobiography that will rock your world, then this might be the book for you.

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