Patricia Mae Giraldo (née Andrzejewski; born January 10, 1953), who goes by the stage name Pat Benatar, is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and four-time Grammy Award winner. She has two RIAA-certified multi-platinum albums, five platinum albums, three gold albums, and 15 Billboard Top 40 singles, including the Top 10 hits "Hit Me with Your Best Shot", "Love Is a Battlefield", "We Belong", and "Invincible".
Life and career
1953–1978: Early life and career beginnings
Pat Benatar performing live in Sydney, October 22, 2010.
Pat Benatar was born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski on January 10, 1953, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York City. Her mother, Mildred (née Knapp) (1928–2016), was a beautician, and her father, Andrew Andrzejewski (in the Polish language: Andrzej Andrzejewski) (1926–2009), was a sheet-metal worker. Her father was of Polish descent and her mother was of German, English, and Irish ancestry. Her family moved to North Hamilton Avenue in Lindenhurst, New York, a village in the Long Island town of Babylon.
Benatar became interested in theater and began voice lessons, singing her first solo at the age of eight, at Daniel Street Elementary School, a song called "It Must Be Spring".
At Lindenhurst Senior High School (1967–1971), she participated in musical theater, playing Queen Guinevere in the school production of Camelot, marching in the homecoming parade, singing at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, and performing a solo of "The Christmas Song" on a holiday recording of the Lindenhurst High School Choir in her senior year.
Benatar trained as a coloratura with plans to attend the Juilliard School, but decided instead to pursue health education at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. At 19, after one year at Stony Brook, she dropped out to marry her first husband, high school sweetheart Dennis Benatar, an army draftee who trained at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and then served with the Army Security Agency at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, before being stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia, where he was stationed for three years; Pat Benatar worked as a bank teller near Richmond, Virginia.
In 1971, Benatar quit her job to pursue a singing career after being inspired by a Liza Minnelli concert she saw in Richmond. She got a job as a singing waitress at a nightclub named The Roaring Twenties and got a gig singing in the lounge band Coxon's Army, a regular at Sam Miller's basement club. The band was the subject of a never-aired PBS special; its bassist Roger Capps was later the original bass player for the Pat Benatar Band. The period also yielded Benatar's first and only single until her eventual 1979 single (taken from the album 'In the Heat of the Night' on Chrysalis Records): "Day Gig" (1974), Trace Records, written and produced by Coxon's Army band leader Phil Coxon and locally released in Richmond.
In 1975, Benatar performed at an amateur night at the comedy club Catch a Rising Star in New York. Her rendition of Judy Garland's "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody" earned her a call back by club owner Rick Newman, who became her manager.
The couple moved to New York following Dennis Benatar's discharge from the army, and Pat Benatar became a regular member at Catch a Rising Star for the next three years.
In 1975 she landed the part of Zephyr in Harry Chapin's futuristic rock musical, The Zinger, which ran for a month in 1976 at the Performing Arts Foundation's (PAF) Playhouse in Huntington Station, Long Island.
Halloween 1977 proved a pivotal night in Benatar's early, spandexed stage persona. She entered a Halloween contest at the Cafe Figaro in Greenwich Village dressed as a character from the film Cat-Women of the Moon. Later that evening, she went onstage at Catch a Rising Star still in costume. Between appearances at Catch a Rising Star, she recorded commercial jingles for Pepsi Cola and a number of regional brands. She headlined New York City's Tramps nightclub for four days in the spring of 1978, where her performance was heard by representatives from several record companies. She was signed to Chrysalis Records by co-founder Terry Ellis the following week. Pat Benatar and Dennis Benatar divorced shortly after, but she kept his surname.
1979–1981: In the Heat of the Night and Crimes of Passion
Benatar's debut album In the Heat of the Night was released in August 1979, and reached #12 in the US in early 1980. Mike Chapman produced three tracks on the album, while engineer Peter Coleman oversaw the rest. In addition, Chapman and his song-writing partner, Nicky Chinn, wrote three songs that appear on the LP, "In the Heat of the Night" and "If You Think You Know How to Love Me" which were previously recorded by Smokie, and a rearranged version of a song they wrote for Sweet, "No You Don't". The album also featured two songs written by Roger Capps and Benatar, and "I Need a Lover" written by John Mellencamp and "Don't Let It Show" written by Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson. The album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in December 1980. In Canada it was certified 4× platinum where it peaked at number 3 on the RPM albums chart.
"If You Think You Know How to Love Me" was the first single to be released on September 14, 1979.
However, it was unsuccessful.
Benatar's second single "Heartbreaker" was released on October 26, 1979 and became a hit, climbing to #23 in the US. A third single "We Live for Love", which was written by her future husband Neil Giraldo, was released in February 1980, and reached US #27.
In August 1980, Benatar released her LP, Crimes of Passion, featuring her signature song "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" along with the controversial song "Hell Is for Children", which was inspired by reading a series of articles in the New York Times about child abuse in America. "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" (US #9) was her first single to break the US Top 10 and sold more than one million copies (gold status) in the United States. The album peaked for five consecutive weeks at #2 in the US in January 1981 (behind John Lennon's and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy) and eventually sold over five million copies, and a month later, Benatar won her first Grammy Award for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1980 for the album. Other singles released from Crimes of Passion were "Treat Me Right" (US #18) and the Rascals' cover, "You Better Run" (US #42), which was the second music video ever played on MTV, after the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star". The album also featured a changed-tempo cover of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights". Produced by Keith Olsen, Crimes of Passion remained on the US album charts for 93 weeks and in the top 10 for more than six months, eventually becoming her first platinum certification by the RIAA. In October 1980, Benatar (along with future husband Neil Giraldo) appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The album was certified 5x platinum in Canada, her best selling album in that country, where it peaked at number 2 on the album charts.
1982–1983: Precious Time, Get Nervous, and Live from Earth
In July 1981, her third LP, Precious Time was released. A month later, the album hit #1 on the Billboard US Top 200 LP chart. It was also her first to chart in the UK, reaching #30. The album's lead single, "Fire and Ice", (co-written by band member Scott Sheets) was another big hit (US #17, AUS #30) and won Benatar her second Grammy Award, this time for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1981 and her third consecutive RIAA certified platinum album. In Canada it was certified double platinum and peaked at number 2 on the albums chart. "Promises in the Dark" (US #38) was also released.
In August 1981, Benatar's video for "You Better Run" was the second clip aired by MTV, after the Buggles song "Video Killed the Radio Star". The Benatar video was specifically chosen by MTV to echo the message to the radio industry contained in "Video Killed the Radio Star", that things were going to change.
A hit single, "Shadows of the Night", (US #13, AUS #19) heralded a new LP, Get Nervous, released in late 1982. The album was another smash, reaching US #4, her fourth consecutive RIAA and CRIA platinum certification, and the single garnered Benatar her third Grammy, again for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1982. The follow-up singles, "Little Too Late" and "Looking for a Stranger", were also successful, hitting US #20 and #39 respectively. The WWII-themed music video for "Shadows of the Night" featured then-unknown actors Judge Reinhold and Bill Paxton as an American fighter copilot and a German radio operator, respectively. The album was certified platinum in Canada where it peaked at 16 on the album charts.
By 1983, Benatar had established a reputation for singing about "tough" subject matters, best exemplified by one of the biggest hits of her career, "Love Is a Battlefield" (penned by noted hit songwriter Holly Knight with Mike Chapman), released in December 1983. By then, her sound had mellowed from hard rock to more atmospheric pop and the story-based video clip for "Love Is a Battlefield" was aimed squarely at MTV, even featuring Benatar in a Michael Jackson-inspired group dance number. This new pop/rock direction was a huge commercial success, with the single peaking at number 5 in the United States, and #1 in Australia for seven consecutive weeks. The song gained interest in the UK where it peaked at #49. The song also netted Benatar her fourth consecutive Grammy Award for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1983. A live album, Live from Earth, which was recorded during Benatar's sold-out 'Get Nervous' world tour of America and Europe in 1982 and 1983, contained two studio tracks, "Love Is a Battlefield" and "Lipstick Lies". The album peaked at US #13 and became her fifth consecutive RIAA and CRIA platinum winner. The album peaked at 25 on the Canadian albums chart.
1984–1986: Tropico, Seven the Hard Way
In August 1984, Benatar released her fifth studio album, Tropico (US #14, AUS #9, UK #31). The single "We Belong", released in October 1984, a month prior to the album release, became another top 10 hit in the US peaking at #5 and #7 in Australia. It was also Benatar's first ever UK top 40 hit, where it peaked at #22. A second single release, "Ooh Ooh Song", reached US #36. It is also said by Benatar and Giraldo that this album is the first where they moved away from Benatar's famed "hard rock" sound and start experimenting with new, sometimes "gentler", styles and sounds. Despite not quite making the US Top 10, it immediately earned her a sixth consecutive RIAA and CRIA platinum-certified album. In Canada, the album peaked at 21 on the album charts.
After the chart success of "We Belong" in the UK, "Love is a Battlefield" was re-released in early 1985 and became her highest chart hit there, reaching #17.
"We Belong" was also nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1986.
Benatar's first nomination in that category.
In 1985, she released her sixth studio album, Seven the Hard Way. Benatar hit the US Top 10 with the Grammy nominated single "Invincible" (the theme from the movie The Legend of Billie Jean) (#10) which was written by Holly Knight (Love Is a Battlefield) and Simon Climie in 1985, three full months before the album was released. Her other Grammy nominated single, "Sex As a Weapon", climbed as high as #28 in January 1986, and "Le Bel Age" (#54) in February. The album Seven the Hard Way peaked at #26, earning an RIAA Gold certification (import CD). In Canada, it was her seventh consecutive platinum certified album and it peaked at 36 on the albums sales chart. In Benatar's autobiography, Between a Heart and a Rock Place, she said, "Out of all the albums, Seven the Hard Way cost the most to make and sold the least." The album sold approximately 600,000 US copies.
1987–1988: Best Shots and Wide Awake in Dreamland
In July 1988, Benatar released her seventh studio album, Wide Awake in Dreamland (US #28, UK #11). The Grammy nominated and lead single, "All Fired Up" (written by Kerryn Tolhurst, ex-The Dingoes) reached #19 in both the U.S. and the U.K., and was a #2 smash in Australia, becoming one of the biggest hits of 1988 in that country. Other singles released from the LP are "Don't Walk Away" (UK #42), the Grammy nominated "Let's Stay Together", and "One Love" (UK #59). The album also earned an RIAA gold certification and was her eighth consecutive platinum certified album in Canada, where it peaked at 11 on the albums chart.
1989–present: True Love, Gravity's Rainbow, and Go
True Love was a jump blues record, released in late April 1991, and featured the blues band Roomful of Blues, backing up Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo and Myron Grombacher. The album sold over 339,000 copies without significant radio airplay and limited exposure on VH-1. "Payin' the Cost to Be the Boss", "So Long", and the title cut were released as singles. The album reached #40 in the UK and #37 in the US. It was certified gold in Canada for sales of 50,000 units, her first to not achieve platinum status and her last certified album for that country where it peaked at 22 on the albums sales chart.
Gravity's Rainbow (US #85) was released in 1993 and was a return to the AOR genre. "Everybody Lay Down" was picked up by Album Rock radio and went all the way to #3. The single was never released to Top 40/Contemporary Hit Radio and a music video was never produced. "Somebody's Baby" was instead released as the single to Top 40 radio and a music video produced. In Canada the album peaked at 44 on the albums sale charts.
A third track was scheduled and a video shot for "Everytime I Fall Back", but the single was never released and the music video was lost when Chrysalis was sold to EMI Records. Benatar had become pregnant again and this may have had an effect on her label's support of the album. The tour for this album was only seven dates, cut short because of the pregnancy. This was Benatar's last album recorded for Chrysalis records. With very little promotion from Chrysalis, Gravity's Rainbow failed to have the same commercial success as Benatar's previous works. According to SoundScan, the album sold approximately 160,000 copies in the United States. It is currently available in a two-in-one release with True Love (import).
Innamorata (US #171) was released in 1997 on the CMC International record label. A single video was produced for "Strawberry Wine (Life is Sweet)". According to SoundScan, the album sold close to 65,000 copies.
Benatar has released only one album of new material since 1997's Innamorata, which is 2003's Go (US #187). The album included the 9/11 charity single, "Christmas in America" as a bonus track. A video was produced for the single "Have It All", but was never released until it was leaked on YouTube in 2012; the only video from this album is for the bonus track. They reunited with Holly Knight with Neil and Holly cowriting the tune "Girl". The hard rock title track "Go!" became a popular performance song for Benatar's future concerts. According to SoundScan, the album has now sold nearly 34,000 copies.
In November 2015, Benatar recorded and released a holiday song called "One December Night".
In January 2017, Benatar recorded the song "Shine" to support the Women's March on January 21, 2017.
This is her first original non-holiday recording in over 10 years.
In September of the same year Benatar again teamed with songwriter and producer Linda Perry for the song "Dancing Through the Wreckage", which was the lead single from the soundtrack for the documentary Served Like a Girl. In October 2017 the song entered the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart, eventually peaking at #22 in November. The song also received a nomination for Best Song from a Documentary from the Critics' Choice Awards.
1979–1980: toured in support of In the Heat of the Night and Crimes of Passion
1981: Precious Time
1982–1983: Get Nervous Tour, resulting in the Live from Earth
1985–1986: Seven the Hard Way
1988: Wide Awake in Dreamland
1991: True Love Tour with Hall and Oates
1993: Gravity's Rainbow
1995: Can't Stop Rockin' Tour with Fleetwood Mac and REO Speedwagon
1996: Hits Tour, which previewed some material from Innamorata
1997: toured with the Steve Miller Band, adding full-length solo shows in bars and clubs on Miller's nights off; appeared at Lilith Fair for two performances
1999: Synchronistic Wanderings
2000: PB2000 Tour
2001–2002: Summer Vacation Tour in support of the CD and DVD release Summer Vacation Tour
2003: I Won't Go Tour
2004: Let's Go Tour
2005: Almost II Tour
2006: Polyamnesia Off the Rock Tour
2007: Summarized Tour
2008: Fired Up!
2009: Call Me Invincible Tour with Blondie; also featured The Donnas on some full-length solo shows
2010: Love on the Run Tour with REO Speedwagon, which included her former drummer Myron Grombacher. Subsequently, in October 2010, she toured Australia and played various dates with the 1980s girl pop group The Bangles
2011: The Elements of Five Tour
2012: toured with Loverboy and Journey
2013: New Zealand tour with Bachman & Turner and America; North American tour with Cheap Trick, Eric Burdon and selected solo dates
2014: Dressed to Kill Tour with Cher
2014: 35th Anniversary tour with solo dates, and co-headlining dates with Rick Springfield, Cheap Trick, and John Waite. Berlin also opened for Benatar on a few dates
2015: 35th Anniversary tour continued from previously-cancelled dates with Cher, in support of the 35th Anniversary Tour (Live) CD/DVD release; this tour too was cancelled because of emergency eye surgery for Neil Giraldo in late summer 2015. An acoustic tour with just Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo was begun in October
2016: We Live For Love Tour with Melissa Etheridge and solo dates. In protest of the anti-LGBT laws passed in Mississippi and North Carolina, Benatar chose to still perform in those states. The proceeds from her tickets sales, however, were donated to organizations to help fund the reversal of those laws
2017: Let's Go Tour
2018: Almost II Tour
2019: 40th Anniversary Tour
In June 2010, Benatar's memoir, Between a Heart and a Rock Place was released. The book was published by HarperCollins and was acquired by Lisa Sharkey. Benatar's memoir touches on her battles with her record company Chrysalis, the difficulties that her career caused in her personal life, and feminism. In the memoir, she is quoted as saying, "For every day since I was old enough to think, I've considered myself a feminist … It's empowering to watch and to know that, perhaps in some way, I made the hard path [women] have to walk just a little bit easier." The book went on to become a New York Times bestseller. Initially reluctant to undertake the project, she found the actual writing process so enjoyable that it inspired her with plans to write a novel. In summer 2011, Benatar announced she was working on a Christmas album and a novel about the second coming of Christ.
Although billed as a solo artist, Benatar recorded and toured with a consistent set of band members over most of her career:
Neil "Spyder" Giraldo (incorrectly spelled as "Geraldo" in early liner notes/credits) is the lead guitarist of the band and has performed on all of Benatar's albums.
Myron Grombacher, who played with Neil in Rick Derringer's touring band, is drummer on nine of Benatar's original albums and has numerous writing credits.
Myron is easily recognizable in the music videos, particularly as the mad dentist in "Anxiety (Get Nervous)".
Charlie Giordano performed keyboard duties on five albums, and is identifiable by his glasses and distinctive array of berets, blazers and 80s-style ties. In 2007, he replaced the late Danny Federici in the E Street Band.
Mick Mahan is the band's bassist and has performed with Benatar since 1995.
The original bassist, Roger Capps, was replaced by Donnie Nossov on Tropico, and then later by Frank Linx.
Chris Ralles is the band's current drummer.
Scott St. Clair Sheets (Scott Sheets) who was originally the lead guitarist of the infamous Seventies NYC band, The Brats, was an original member of the Pat Benatar Band.
Sheets is credited as guitarist on the first 3 albums and first 3 world tours.
He wrote the song "Prisoner of Love" for the Crimes of Passion album and co-wrote the hit "Fire and Ice" for the Precious Time album.
Glen Alexander Hamilton played drums on the first album.
Stage and screen appearances
Benatar played the character Zephyr in Harry Chapin's futuristic rock musical The Zinger. Benatar performed the solo "Shooting Star" in honor of Chapin for the Harry Chapin Tribute, Carnegie Hall, December 7, 1987.
Benatar has made numerous television appearances, mostly as herself.
She appeared with her husband Neil Giraldo in the Charmed episode "Lucky Charmed" on which "Heartbreaker" was used and in an episode of Dharma & Greg as herself singing "We've Only Just Begun" at an impromptu wedding in an airport. In 2001, she also appeared as fictional rock star Anna Raines in the CBS television drama Family Law with Dixie Carter and Christopher McDonald. Benatar also appeared on That 80's Show
Benatar appeared as a special guest at the sixth annual VH1 Divas concert, VH1 Divas Duets, performing "Heartbreaker" with Giraldo and headliner Lisa Marie Pressley, with the married couple interviewed by Sharon Osbourne following the performance.
In 2006, Benatar and her music were featured on CMT Crossroads, an episode that paired her with country singer Martina McBride.
Benatar and Giraldo performed in the Tiny Desk Concerts series of NPR Music on 14 November 2014. At the Tiny Desk, Benatar and Giraldo ran through three of their classic songs: "We Live For Love," "We Belong" and "Promises In The Dark".
Her version of the song “We Belong” was featured in the 2006 comedy film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, starring Will Ferrell and directed by Adam McKay.
In 2006, the song "We Belong" was part of a $20 million ad campaign for Sheraton Hotels, although the version used in the commercial was not Benatar's. In 2013 Pat Benatar contributed an original song Passion for a Jello Fruit commercial. In 2019, "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" was used in a Chili's commercial, promoting their new fajitas and We Belong was used in a Pepsi commercial.
In the Heat of the Night
Crimes of Passion
Live from Earth
Seven the Hard Way
Wide Awake in Dreamland