In Advance of Their Rock Hall Appearance and Upcoming Induction, Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock Discuss Their Respective Books About the Go-Go's

click to enlarge Go-Go's drummer Gina Schock. - John Stapleton
John Stapleton
Go-Go's drummer Gina Schock.
Just a day before they get inducted into the Rock Hall and perform at the Oct. 30 ceremony at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Go-Go’s members Gina Schock and Kathy Valentine will participate in a book signing event and interview at the Rock Hall.

The entire band, including Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina  Schock, Kathy Valentine and Jane  Wiedlin, will be interviewed by SiriusXM host Lori Majewski and the Rock Hall’s Director of Education Mandy Smith at noon on Friday, Oct. 29, on the outside Rock Hall Live PNC Stage. A book signing event will follow.

Then, on the outdoor stage at 3 p.m., the Rock Hall will unveil the 2021 Inductee signature panel with special guests from the Class of 2021.

Both events are free with a special event ticket that gives you access to the outdoor plaza as well as public spaces inside the Rock Hall. The ticket includes viewing of the Go-Go’s interview and book signing and 2021 Inductee signature panel dedication. Rock Hall admission sold separately.

Books and merchandise will be available for purchase onsite. Only merchandise purchased onsite will be eligible for the band to sign. Masks are required to participate in the book signing and while inside the building on Oct. 29 and 30.

For the health and safety of all involved, all fans attending the Rock Hall on Oct. 29 and 30 must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (14 days past final vaccination shot) and provide proof of COVID-19 immunization or negative test taken within 48 hours.

In separate recent phone interviews, Schock and Valentine spoke about their respective books, Made in Hollywood and All I Ever Wanted. Schock’s book features posters, never before seen photographs and Polaroids, plus other ephemera from her archives. Valentine's book is a beautifully written memoir. Both capture what it was like to be associated with the Go-Go's, a band that bridged the punk and new wave worlds.

click to enlarge Go-Go's bassist Kathy Valentine. - Ruby Matheu
Ruby Matheu
Go-Go's bassist Kathy Valentine.
Gina, I think your musical influences range from Cat Stevens to Aerosmith.
My taste is really eclectic. I like all sorts of music. I love David Bowie, and I love Rush. I’m all over the place. It all has its value. Music moves and touches everybody. Music is for all the emotions and works differently in differently times.

Kathy, I think yours range from Suzi Quatro to Keith Richards and Eric Clapton and Cream.
I tend to think of myself as being a fan of songs rather than any one style or one artist. I might love one song by an artist and not anything else. I’m very song-oriented. I grew up with a really wide spectrum of music around me in my early teen years when I would go out to hear music. It’s only grown to include pop and R&B and blues and jazz and rock and alternative and hip-hop and jazz.

Can you each talk about your first concert? Gina, I think that was Led Zeppelin and the Who.
Yeah, Led Zeppelin opened for the Who. It was pretty incredible. That was my first show ever. My brother took me to that. That was a game changer for me. I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Or so I thought at age 11. I thought, “I’m going to up on that stage, and that’s it.” It’s a crazy dream, but it really happened. It’s unbelievable, but it really happened.
Valentine: Well, the first thing was seeing John Lee Hooker, but that was in a club. My first bigger concert was J. Geils Band when they were still a British blues rock band. My first big concert was when I saw ZZ Top play outside in a big old field .

Can you also talk about your first band?
Scatch ’n Sniff was my first real band. We were in the same neighborhood. The other members were way better musicians than I was, but we found out about each other through friends. They came to my house, and I played with them on a couple of songs. They said they wanted me. We started rehearsing and playing different show. We were one of Baltimore’s first punk/New Wave bands. We got to play the Marble Bar, which was the coolest, hippest place to play in Baltimore.
Valentine: The first band to get gigs and write-ups was the Violators. That was in Texas. By the time, I joined the Go-Go’s, I had been in four or five other bands. I thought I was a seasoned pro.

Gina, talk about that first time you saw the Go-Go’s play at Club 88 in Los Angeles.
My friend took me to see them play. They were fantastic. I love them. They weren’t up there trying to be great musicians. They were just having fun and doing things to the best of their ability. The thing that stuck out was that they were having such a great time, and they were connecting with the audience. The audience didn’t care if they made mistakes. Everyone was in it together. I loved it. They were a diamond in the rough. I thought they had something special, and I felt there was something there that needed to be worked on so they could really shine.

Were you a hippie then as Jane Wiedlin maintains?
Oh, I don’t know what I was. I was just a musician. I didn’t quite look like whatever a punk was supposed to look like. Everyone had their own style. I was in need of a new hairdo. I did get that, and that changed a lot.

Kathy, talk about that first gig you played with the band at the Whiskey on New Year’s Eve.
I don’t think I can describe it any better than I do in the book. My first shows were sold out. It was eight consecutive shows, two a night for four nights.

You each have put together books documenting your time with the band. Talk about your approach to documenting your history with the band.
I don’t know. I didn’t think about it. I just wrote what was my truth as I remember things. I went back to my daily planner which I had since 1978. I referred to that a lot. It wasn’t a diary as such. I did write down events and things that were going on at the time. I would refer back to that to help me remember dates and places. Mainly, it was just looking back at those photos. When I initially started the project, it was going to just be photos. I wasn’t thinking about having any text. The book publishers asked me about that. I thought that it made sense. The pictures do tell stories, and I was there. I wrote about what was going on. Kathy’s book is a memoir. Mine is more about the photographs.
Valentine: Well, I had a strategy in mind. I want to add being an author and writer to my career path. I’m very interested in writing literary fiction. I thought that would be a difficult first book to get people interested in. It was a strategy in terms of writing a memoir. I thought of it was a story that should be told. I don’t think there are enough women getting their stories out there about how music is just as important and vital to us as it is to men. Plus, I had a book deal. If you know your book is going to published, it makes the whole job a lot more motivating. I had a desire to write and had been writing essays and poetry and songs for years. I had taken creative writing classes. I knew I was capable of writing a good book. It was just a matter of learning the process. I had day planners and faxes going back to the very beginning. I had journals and all the press we had ever done and could look at different stories from different cities when we were on tour. I also have a very good memory. I wanted [the book] to resonate with people. I’m not a big celebrity like Britney Spears. I’m just a female musician in a band. I’m not a big name. To me, it had to be a book that resonated on a very human and personal level. My favorite memoirs aren’t rock memoirs but rather books by Mary Karr and Cheryl Strayed. My favorite memoirs are literary memoirs and not rock memoirs with the exception of Patti Smith. I thought if it moved the story forward, those things from my life could give context about why it was so important for me to be in a band. What drives a 15-year-old girl in 1974 decide to be in a band? That’s not what most 15-year-old girls wanted to do. It’s about my childhood and my longing to feel like I was part of a family and get away from a painful experience growing up gives a lot of context.

Gina, who was the first celeb you recruited to contribute to your book?
Um, I think I asked Kate Pierson. She’s a good friend and just a doll.

I hate to sound nostalgic, but reading your books made me realize how great the music that came out in the ’80s was. There were bands like the Go-Go’s, the Human League, the Police, INXS and acts such as David Bowie and Rolling Stones were still relevant too.
It was a really great time. I love the ’70s and ’80s. That’s when I was growing up. It was a really fun time in music, and everything was happening. You could turn on the radio and hear reggae or pop or R&B or hard rock. It was all over the place. It’s not like that as much anymore. There were so many genres happening all at once. There was a place for everybody and there was a lot of interest in all those categories. There was a scene for every one of those genres of music.
Valentine: Every decade or era has its high and low moments. I’m a fan of songs. I don’t like every song David Bowie did even though I love him. I don’t necessarily identify with the ’80s as the glory days or that that was the best music ever. I think most people who were teenagers then might do that. For me, I was a teenager through Zeppelin and the Faces and the earlier Stones. That music you’re listening to when you’re coming of age really gets ahold of your soul.

The band’s break-up really broke your hearts. Talk about what it took to get past that.
Um, you know, when I got my own record deal, that changed it a lot. I realized I could do it. I put that band together. We did one show and got a record deal. That really knocked me off my feet. I realized there was a lot I could do. That’s about it. I was fine. When we got back together, it was all cool with me. I had gotten a solo deal, so I didn’t feel bad. People had been calling each other here and there and then, we got the call from Jane Fonda, and that’s when we all started playing together.
Valentine: For me, getting sober helped. It helped me become a better person and understand how I wanted to live life. For me personally, grudges and bitterness and being mad at people was not how I wanted to go through life.

The Rock Hall Induction is a long time coming. What did it feel like to learn you finally made it in?
Well, over the last several years, we’ve been like, “Are you kidding me? I don’t even care anymore.” Then, when it really happened, everybody was really excited.
Valentine: It felt really good, not only for the band but individually. I’ve been a rock ’n’ roll musician for over 40 years. I’ve been in bands non-stop. Covid was the first time I wasn’t in a band playing in front of people. I’ve devoted my life to playing music, and it’s noteworthy. I think the Go-Go’s had more influence and impact than given credit for. I think both on an individual level for myself and for the band, it’s a welcomed feather in the cap.

What do you have planned for the ceremony?
They asked us to do three songs, so we will.
Valentine: It’ll be like every other time we performed except it’s being filmed for HBO. I don’t know. I don’t think about what it’ll be like until we’re playing and in the moment.

Any chance you’ll come out in tutus?
I don’t think so [laughs]. Those days are gone. The tutus had their time. Everyone is working on what they want to wear. Some people are having something made. We will celebrate the band, and I am excited about it. It’s kind of stressful too because it’s a big deal.
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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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