It’s been a big year for Kathy Valentine. Most people remember her as the bassist for the New Wave band, the Go-Go’s. But recently, the Texas native also became a writer and is now a college graduate, all as the pandemic changed so much about how the world worked.
Last summer, Valentine released a much-lauded memoir, giving readers a first-hand look into the highs and lows of rock stardom. A long-awaited documentary on the Go-Go’s was released, too. Now, Valentine, along with her bandmates, is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 41 years after the Go-Go’s chart-buster, “Beauty and the Beat,” launched the all-woman rock band into music history. Valentine spoke with Texas Standard about what it means to be recognized for her musical career, and how she’s continuing to pursue art and education.
Valentine recently earned a degree from St. Edward’s University in Austin. She says she’s been taking classes for awhile, and decided to finish when the university let her know she was four classes away from earning an interdisciplinary degree in fine arts and English.
“I enjoy learning a lot, and I… started in the ‘90s, taking classes and kind of knocking out the things that would be required for a degree,” Valentine said. “I think my career and what I do for a living, it can be very chaotic. It can be very unstructured. It can be very up and down. And there was something about balancing my life out with academia that was really appealing to me.”
Valentine says the week she learned the Go-Go’s had made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was packed. Besides graduating from college and learning about her Hall of Fame induction, she was an answer on “Jeopardy!”
“It wasn’t the Go-Go’s. It was my name on ‘Jeopardy!,’” Valentine said. “And I probably got as much attention for that as I did the Rock Hall of Fame.”
Also that week, Valentine says, she learned she’d received an A+ on a major academic project.
Nominations for the Hall of Fame are released each year, months before the final inductees. So Valentine knew the Go-Go’s had a shot. But she kept her excitement in check until the final results were announced, which were a big deal, 15 years after the band first became eligible for induction.
“I was just elated,” she said.
If the Go-Go’s get to perform at the induction ceremony, Valentine says she would be happy to play the band’s hits, but hopes there will be time to play a new song the Go-Go’s wrote and recorded remotely.
“We did a song called ‘Club Zero,’ and I’d love to do that because it would be the first time to perform together,” Valentine said.
The band has continued to play special shows, including a four-night stint at the Hollywood Bowl in 2018 with the LA Philharmonic. But it isn’t likely they’ll go on tour, even after the pandemic ends. Valentine says that as “grown-ass women in our 60s,” going on the road in a tour bus isn’t all that appealing.
Valentine says she continues to be surprised by the Go-Go’s staying power, from a Broadway musical to a documentary about the band. And she says there’s a “secret project” on the horizon, too.
“I don’t sit around and hope, and pine and wish for things, because I think I would be frustrated and bitter if I did,” Valentine said. “But the gifts keep coming; things happen.”