Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s reflects on Hall of Fame induction, Austin’s music influence


All-women rock band The Go-Go’s was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Oct. 30. (Courtesy: The Go-Go’s)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — For Austin native Kathy Valentine, this past Saturday was arguably one of the best nights of her life.

That was the night she and fellow bandmates from The Go-Go’s were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, alongside the likes of music figures Tina Turner, Carole King, Jay-Z and LL Cool J. This followed the group’s initial nomination and subsequent announcement as inductees in May.

“It takes up a lot of space in your life — just getting ready, thinking about it, making plans, all that stuff,” she said. “You have to come up with stuff for the actual exhibit and everything. And, you know, finally, the big night comes and it was probably one of the best nights of my life.”

For Valentine, she said being in the same room and receiving the same honor as her fellow nominees was surreal, given their bodies of work and influence in American music. For The Go-Go’s, she said the group didn’t have the same volume of hits or sales as some of the other acts honored — but the influence the all-women rock band has had on its fans for decades is inspiring, she said.

“You really have to think about influence and changing lives,” she said. “I think [presenter] Drew Barrymore did a great job of showing whoever watches how we changed a lot of people’s lives and definitely had a place of, not matching some of the other accolades that the bigger artists had, but we had our influence, and it was valid, and it was significant.”

As part of her acceptance speech, Valentine encouraged young women interested in music to work toward those dreams of starting a band or performing. The more visible female musicians there are, she said the more likely it will encourage future generations of young girls to see that dream as a viable reality.

Valentine said that when she was a 14-year-old girl, she loved rock music and playing the guitar. But it was a trip to England and seeing Suzi Quatro perform that made her passions feel all the more tangible.

The enduring legacy of The Go-Go’s, she said, is its timeless music that has resonated with generations of listeners.

“When you see a Go-Go’s concert, you see women our age who loved us when they were little girls — as teenagers or younger than us — you see them with their daughters in their 30s, you see them with their granddaughters that are teenagers,” she said. “It’s very transcendent music. So it really comes down to your songs and music, how it gets into people’s hearts and lives.”

As for her native Austin roots, she credits the city as a critical influence on her artistry. While not yet dubbed the Live Music Capital of the World in the ’70s, she said its diversity and array of music genres in clubs and at local institutions factored into her own creative inspirations.

“It’s always been a mecca for great music, and that’s why I am the player that I am,” Valentine said. “And even though I might not be the most technically great player, I’ve got really good style and judgment and taste in what I choose to play. And that’s because of what I learned here in Austin.”

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