In the 1980s, Pat Benatar was the quintessential rock chick – powerful voice, great songs, and good-looking to boot; men wanted to be with her and women wanted to be her. As the page turned on a new decade, however, Benatar turned the page in her life and career – family and record company strife took her in a new direction, one that she continues to follow today.
Born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski in Brooklyn, New York in 1953, Benatar is a classically-trained vocalist who was accepted to The Juilliard School but opted not to continue classical training. She married her high school sweetheart, Dennis Benatar, at age 19, following him to Virginia, where she eventually got a job as a singing waitress. She returned to New York and became a fixture at New York club Catch a Rising Star for almost three years.
In 1977, she signed with Chrysalis Records and released her debut album, In The Heat Of The Night, in 1979. The album’s third single, “Heartbreaker,” turned out to be Benatar’s breakthrough record, hitting #23; the album peaked at #12 and became her first platinum record. The follow-up, 1980’s Crimes of Passion, went multi-platinum and established Benatar as a musical force to be reckoned with. She also won her first of four straight Grammy Awards for “Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female,” for Crimes; she followed that with wins for “Fire and Ice,” “Shadows of the Night,” and “Love is a Battlefield.”
More platinum hardware followed for the powerful singer – Precious Time (1981), Get Nervous (1982), Live From Earth (1983), and Tropico (1984) all went platinum. Benatar, who married her long-time guitarist and songwriting partner Neil Giraldo in 1982 after her 1979 divorce, had her first child early in 1985, which was reflected in Tropico, recorded while she was pregnant, having a more laid back pop sound. Her next two albums, Seven the Hard Way (1985) and Wide Awake In Dreamland (1988), were certified gold; at this time, Benatar’s relationship with her record company was already tense, and she could sense the beginning of the end with Chrysalis.
When new blood took over Chrysalis, Benatar and Giraldo remained, as they were allowed to record a blues record, 1991’s True Love. The follow-up, 1993’s Gravity’s Rainbow, was critically acclaimed but received little support due in part to both Benatar’s second pregnancy and the sale of Chrysalis to EMI. Since then, she has released just two albums, 1997’s Innamorata and 2003’s Go, on independent labels.
Benatar and Giraldo continue to tour, teaming up with Blondie for a popular retro-tour in 2009, and touring with REO Speedwagon in 2010. She also recently released her memoirs, Between a Heart and a Rock Place.
sources: “Biography,” benatarfanclub.com
Liner notes, Synchronistic Wanderings (1999)