I am one of the most musically un-hip people in Austin. For many reasons, I don’t take advantage of the live music scene here. While I enjoy music, I am terrible about remembering who sings what song. When I dated a very not-famous musician (because if you live in Austin, you most likely will date a musician at some point), I drove him nuts for being so musically ignorant.
Hence, when Kristin Casey mentioned to me she was writing a book about a famous rock star she dated, it didn’t really grab my attention. When she released the title of Rock Monster: My Life with Joe Walsh, I actually had to go Google to find out whom Joe Walsh is. As I read his bio, I was able to say, “Oh, The Eagles. I’ve heard of them.” But really, I’m not one who would normally pick up a book to read it because it’s about a rock star. However, I’ve really enjoyed the blog posts of Casey’s that I’ve read in the past. I knew she was a skilled writer, so I was curious to read her book. The sample she shared at her book release at BookPeople in March was tantalizing, and I was anxious to jump into reading the rest of the book.
I was not at all disappointed. As the book flap summarizes so concisely, Rock Monster is the “sexy, crazy, cautionary tale of two addicts in love without a single relationship skill.” For me, the book felt as though the masquerade ball scene from Labyrinth was taking place in the Upside Down of Stranger Things. Casey’s life with Walsh was filled with fame and luxury. She describes accompanying him on tours domestically and abroad while staying in hotels such as The Plaza. They visit places such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Switzerland. Their social lives involve contacts and friends from among the rich and famous; Casey casually mentions at one point that Lionel Richie had agreed to marry her and Walsh as though this is typical for most people when choosing the celebrant for their wedding ceremonies. Walsh gives Casey clothes from his ex-lover Stevie Nicks (who also joins them for parties) along with beautiful jewelry.
Yet despite all the opulence of the seeming fairy tale of romance and fame, there was a very dark side to the life that Casey and Walsh shared that was permeated with emotional, physical and substance abuse. At one point they were living in a penthouse, but there were few usable areas in the space due to Walsh’s clutter and mess. That outward physical disorder symbolically represented the rest of their relationship as well as Casey struggled to find her place in Walsh’s life despite being soulmates. They shared a kinky sex life, but one that met his needs more than hers. Casey painfully discovers that she is not and will not be Walsh’s creative muse. Often left on the sidelines waiting for him to beckon her, Casey loses her connection to herself in favor of following Walsh in his world. Emotionally, he is often neglectful, subjecting her to long periods of abusive silence. Alternating with the neglect were periods of violent verbal rage where he abusively berated Casey in front of others. Add in a few physical fights, and the lack of relationship skills between them are very clear.
And then there are the drugs. Lots of drugs. Drugs in amounts that I didn’t think were possible to use and survive. As the relationship continues, their drug use escalates and begins to destroy Casey. At one point while on tour together, Ringo Starr offers to pay for Casey to enter rehab, a gift she declines because like so many with addiction issues, she wasn’t ready to admit she had a drug problem. Despite knowing that Casey is alive and well today, I read with trepidation as the book progressed because I knew rock bottom was coming, and I was worried about how bad it would be for her. As with most people with severe addiction issues, her rock bottom was truly horrendous, though it happened in a way I didn’t expect.
I was truly captivated by Casey’s story: I had to force myself to put the Rock Monster down and go to bed on two nights before finally finishing it on the third night. As with many well-written memoirs, the prose pulls the reader into the world of the author leaving them wanting more. I even woke up one night on two separate occasions having been dreaming about what I had read before bed!
At her book release, Casey stated that she thinks she has at least two more books in her. I hope that one of those books will be more details about her tale of healing, of working through the emotional abuse of her childhood that predisposed her to addiction issues and the turmoil of her life with Walsh. As she stated at the release, “We keep saying that kids are resilient, but they just aren’t.” This underlying truth leads to the dysfunctional adult lives that so many people in our society struggle with. Learning how Casey overcame her abusive past after hitting rock bottom to become a successful woman is a tale that many can benefit from hearing.
©2018 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., GreenHeartGuidance.com