Kathryn “Kathy” Valentine (born January 7, 1959) is an American musician (guitar and bass) and songwriter. She made music history as a member of The Go-Go’s, the first all-female band to have a #1 album in the U.S.
Valentine has maintained a career in music through songwriting, recording, performing and touring as well as additional academic and creative pursuits.
Kathryn Valentine was born on January 7, 1959 in Austin, Texas, an only child who was raised by her single mother, an English expatriate. Valentine dropped out of public school in 9th grade to attend Greenbriar, an alternative school where she began playing guitar. In 1973, while visiting England with her mother, she happened to see Suzi Quatro on Top Of The Pops, and said it “blew her mind”. It had never occurred to her that a woman could be a rock star.
She returned to Austin, got an electric guitar and amp, and began looking for bandmates. She credits the Austin, Texas music scene for her diverse musical roots, in particular Jimmie Vaughan and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, as well as Texas icon Doug Sahm who let her onstage to sit in with his band on the Chuck Berry song “Little Queenie”.
In 1975, on a subsequent family visit to London with her mother, she answered an ad in Melody Maker and joined the fledgling Girlschool. She missed a gig due to illness and was replaced by Kelly Johnson, who she would later work with. Inspired by the punk scene and bands like The Ramones and Blondie, Valentine returned to Austin and formed the punk band, the Violators, alongside Carla Olson, Jesse Sublett and Marilyn Dean. The band played at Raul’s, Austin’s first punk club, in February 1978. In late 1978, Valentine moved to Los Angeles and co-founded The Textones with Carla Olson. The Textones released two singles, including an unreleased Tom Petty song, before Valentine left the band in 1980. During her time in The Textones, Phil Seymour recorded “We Don’t Get Along”, a song she’d written. The Go-Go’s also would record this song as well as other songs she’d written during the Textones period, such as “Vacation” and “Can’t Stop The World”.
The Go-Go’s (1980-1985)
She was asked to play bass, an instrument that she had not played extensively, as a substitute for the Go-Go’s ailing bass player. She says she learned their songs over four days and rehearsed with them twice before hitting the stage on New Year’s Eve 1980 at Whiskey A Go-Go. Valentine was asked to remain as a permanent member shortly thereafter. The Go-Go’s were signed to I.R.S. Records in March 1981. “Can’t Stop the World” was recorded for the Go-Go’s debut album, Beauty and the Beat.
The second album featured Valentine’s previous Textones song “Vacation” as the title track and first single, after re-working the arrangement with Go-Go’s guitarist Charlotte Caffey. On the Go-Go’s third LP, Talk Show, Valentine also co-wrote with Caffey the hit single “Head over Heels,” and played lead guitar on several songs, including the single “Turn To You”, album cuts “You Thought”, “Beneath The Blue Sky”, and “Good For Gone”.
The band struggled with internal difficulties during the recording of Talk Show, and tried to stay together after the departure of rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin. Valentine moved to guitar duties, and Paula Jean Brown was hired to play bass. The Go-Go’s broke up in May 1985.
Post Go-Go’s (1985-1990) and Go-Go’s reunion
After the break up, Valentine said that she felt lost and that her identity had become absorbed into being a Go-Go. Returning to her rock roots, she formed The World’s Cutest Killers, a line up she thought would be successful, featuring former Girlschool guitarist Kelly Johnson, her old friend Jesse Sublett on bass, drummer (future A&R man) Craig Aaronson, and keyboardist Jebin Bruni. The group attracted the attention of producer Mike Chapman and recorded demos, which were scrapped, and the band split up. Several other bands and line ups went nowhere, and Valentine returned to school. In 1990, the Go-Go’s reunited for concerts and a CD of greatest hits, but split again soon after.
The BlueBonnets (1992-1994), The Delphines (1995-2002), and Go-Go’s second reunion (1994-2013)
In 1992, Valentine began her longest collaboration and partnership with singer and bassist Dominique Davalos. They formed the BlueBonnets, a blues-based group. With high-profile guests sitting in with the band, club goers lining up to see them, and performances at celebrity wedding receptions and parties, record company scouts took notice but the band went through line up changes and eventually morphed into the Valentine/Davalos band The Delphines early in 1995. The Go-Go’s began working together again, with Valentine co-writing “The Whole World Lost Its Head” on Return To The Valley of The Go-Go’s, a song which became the band’s highest charting U.K. single. The band released a new CD God Bless The Go-Go’s in 2001, toured extensively for many years, and appeared in a popular DVD live concert, The Go-Go’s Live In Central Park. Determined not to let the Go-Go’s define her this time around, Valentine kept The Delphines going, and the band released two albums, The Delphines (1996) and Cosmic Speed (2001).
Light Years (2005)
In 2005, Valentine released a solo recording, Light Years, that she co-produced, wrote, arranged and performed the guitar and vocal tracks. Light Years featured musician friends, including Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley, Guns and Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, Lenny Kravitz, guitarist Craig Ross, and drummers Clem Burke and Pete Thomas. She began the record while pregnant in 2002 and wrote several songs with then husband, attorney and musician Steven Weisburd.
Return to Austin (2006-present)
In 2006, Valentine returned to her hometown to reside. She has been featured on the cover of the Fall 2010 issue of Texas Music, a February 2007 issue of the Austin Chronicle, and the February 2009 issue of Austin Woman. In March 2014, at South by Southwest she was inducted into the Austin Music Hall of Fame by members of Blondie (Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, and Clem Burke). She and Davalos re-formed The BlueBonnets with a Texas line up, including Austin guitarist Eve Monsees. The band has released two albums, Boom Boom Boom Boom (2010) and Play Loud (2014), and were invited to open for The Waterboys American tour in Spring 2015. Their third album, “Tonewrecker” was released on April 1, 2017. Valentine and Davalos also perform in the band Lady Band Johnson with front man Johnny Goudie.
On March 21, 2016, The Go-Go’s announced plans for a farewell tour. However Valentine would not be part of the lineup.
While working to complete her inter-disciplinary degree in English and Fine Arts, Valentine has also begun taking writing jobs and public speaking engagements. She was the keynote speaker at The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women annual event, and for the MEOW Conference, where she also presented a Valor Award to her early inspiration Suzi Quatro. In 2014, Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems presented Valentine as part of its Game Changers promotional campaign. In 2013, she put together an all-female, all-star band for the Experience Music Project’s Women Who Rock Exhibit. Valentine recruited underground influential musicians and Seattle-based singers to front the band and was musical director. She has also been hired to write music reviews for The Talkhouse, an online site devoted to music and music lovers. In 2016, Valentine was the featured speaker at Kids In A New Groove annual fundraiser. The same year, Valentine signed with U.T. Press to write a memoir, expected to be published in 2018.
Valentine’s last full show with The Go-Go’s was on May 9, 2012. A broken wrist led to her being replaced on a 2012 summer tour. On March 8, 2013, the Go-Go’s official website said “irreconcilable differences” had led to her departure. On May 24, 2013 she sued her former bandmates for “breach of fiduciary duty and abuse of control…in an attempt to deprive [her] of her position and interest in the group, including her right to receive her full one-fifth, 20% share of the benefits and revenues generated by the group’s substantial reputation, fame, and goodwill.” In early 2014, the lawsuit that Valentine brought against her former bandmates was settled out of court.
Valentine is divorced from Steven Weisburd. They co-parent their daughter and she has partnered with Weisburd in a new business venture, The Townsend, a bar and performance venue in downtown Austin.