Pat Benatar - Vocals
Neil Giraldo - Guitar
More than two decades ago, Pat Benatar began breaking rules and blazed a new trail for female rock stars. Pat was bold, self-assured, and independent. She was alluring but not exploitive. She was vulnerable but not weak. She was strong-minded without being hardhearted.
Songs such as “Love Is a Battlefield,” “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “We Live For Love,” and “Heartbreaker” became anthems for a new attitude. At the dawn of MTV, Benatar was the image of the female rocker for an entire generation of young woman, and the young men who loved them. That generation has grown up with her and others have walked down the path she helped pave.
Still going strong, Benatar has been married for 23 years to guitarist, songwriter producer, collaborator and soul mate Neil Giraldo . The parents of two daughters, Pat and Neil have been touring almost non-stop for over two decades.
In August 2003 Benatar released her first album of new songs in 7 years titled GO, on Bel Chiasso Records, distributed through the Welk Music Group. Benatar say's it's a “contemporary guitar-driven record.” “I like it; it sounds like us, but in the natural progression of where we should be,” she says. Her life story will also be the subject of the highly rated A&E Biography series.
Benatar is acknowledged as the leading female rock vocalist of the ‘80s. Of the nine original albums release between 1979 and 1989, seven were certified platinum and two went gold. During that decade, she was nominated nine times for Grammy Awards for Best Rock Performance (female), winning an unprecedented four Grammy Awards in consecutive years. Benatar has also won three American Music Awards. One of the most popular performers in rock, she is also one of the most recognized and admired.
Born Patricia Andrzejewski in Brooklyn , New York she was raised in Lindenhurst , Long Island . She always wanted to be a singer and started singing in elementary school, performing in community projects and church choirs. She began studying privately in junior high and continued through high school. At 19, she married her high school sweetheart, (becoming Pat Benatar) and moved to Richmond , Virginia , where she worked as a bank clerk and moonlighted as a singer in lounges and local clubs.
In 1975, the couple moved back to New York , but they soon divorced. Determined to follow her dream, Benatar took to performing cabaret on Long Island before being cast in The Zinger, a short-lived off-Broadway sci-fi
musical composed by Harry Chapin. She then hit the Manhattan cabaret circuit, incorporating more rock and pop into her repertoire of standards and Broadway show tunes. As with many young performers, she also showed up at open mike nights at Catch A Rising Star, a showcase club featuring singers and comedians. Her three a.m. rendition of Judy Garland’s “Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody” earned her a steady slot there.
Then, in 1977 came her turning point. For Halloween, she wore a streetwise vampire costume (black tights, short black top, black eyeliner) to a party at a Greenwich Village café. Instead of changing clothes for her gig that night at Catch A Rising Star, she went on stage in costume, performing her usual set. Only this time, instead of the usual response, the audience stood and cheered. Suddenly her powerful singing (later to reach a 41/2 octave range) was matched by an equally powerful image.
The following year, Benatar signed to Chrysalis Records. Multi-instrumentalist Neil Giraldo , a respected session player who had worked with several Midwest-based groups as well as being a member of Rick Derringer’s band, was brought in as musician and arranger. The two sparked an immediate rapport on stage and off, put together a band, and relocated to Southern California .
Benatar debuted with the platinum album In The Heat Of The Night (1979) and both “Heartbreaker” and “We Live For Love” charted in the Top 40. Her next album, Crimes Of Passion (1980), rocketed to #2, reaching quadruple platinum, and including her first Top 10 hit, the gold-certified “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” The album also spawned the video for “You Better Run,” the second ever to air on MTV, which debuted that year. In addition, Crimes Of Passion copped the first of her Grammy Awards.
That was just the beginning. Her next album, Precious Time (1981) went double platinum and outdid its predecessor by hitting #1. Fire And Ice brought Benatar her second Grammy. Other platinum albums followed. Get Nervous (1982) was Top Five and featured the Grammy winning “Shadows Of The Night,” Live From Earth (1983) boasted the gold, Grammy winning, Top Five hit “Love Is A Battlefield” (and it’s classic video) Tropico (1984) shined its spotlight on the Top Five charting “We Belong,” nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance (female).
Following the gold Seven The Hard Way (1984), who’s Top 10 Grammy-nominated “Invincible” was the theme song for the film The Legend of Billie Jean, Benatar took time off to become a mother. She and Giraldo married in 1982, and in 1985, became the proud parents of a baby girl, Haley.
Between 1988 and 1989, Benatar released Wide Awake in Dreamland that spun off the Top 20 hit “All Fired Up.” The song earned her another Grammy nomination along with another nomination for “Let’s Stay Together.” In August 2001, her greatest hits compilation Best Shots was certified platinum.
In 1991, Benatar fashioned ahead of its time the retro-swing effort, True Love (1991) backed by the roomful of Blues rhythm section. Pat successfully modernized her sound for the critically acclaimed Gravity’s Rainbow (1993) while continuing to tour with Fleetwood Mac, the Steve Miller Band and others.
1997, Pat released Innamorata (CMC International), her first original album in four years. That same year, she was also invited to perform at Lilith Fair where so many female artists enjoyed the fruits of their success thanks in part to the seeds planted by the pioneering Benatar. In 1998, 8-18-80 (CMC), an album of live recording from her concert that long-ago night at the Old Waldorf in San Francisico, was released.
In 1999, Benatar and Giraldo opened their private vaults and compiled an extensive 3-CD collection Synchronistic Wanderings: Recorded Anthology 1979-1999 (Chrysalis/Capitol). This definitive collection spans her entire career and contains rare photos and previously unreleased material. Synchronistic Wanderings includes the album versions of all 19 of her Top 40 singles.
This great collected works also includes songs from soundtracks like Speed and other films, contributions to tribute/benefits projects, preciously unreleased live recordings and outtakes, B-Sides, and rarities never before available on CD. It even includes the demo version of “Love Is A Battlefield,” perhaps Benatar’s signature song.
In the summer of 2002 Benatar released a live CD and DVD. The CD Summer Vacation Soundtrack Live and the DVD Summer Vacation Live, featured a digital video tour book including a 90-minute concert filmed at the Grove Theatre in Anaheim , California . In addition they debuted four new songs (“I Won’t,” “Girl,” “Out Of The Ruins,” and “Please Don’t Leave Me”) as well as previously unrecorded acoustic versions of “We Belong” and Love Is A Battlefield.” Summer Vacation Live DVD also included special features such as behind the scenes footage and exclusive interviews.
Over the last couple years Benatar has been busy in front of the camera appearing in cameo roles in several hit TV shows including WB’s Charmed, ABC’s Dharma and Greg and on the Fox series That 80’s Show. Her story has also been featured on shows like A&E Biography, Lifetime’s Intimate Portrait and on VH-1’s hit series Behind The Music.
Twenty-five years after starting her recording career, Pat has found that unique balance between family and career. Continuing to do what she loves, Pat Benatar is still rocking.