It only takes a few bars to see and hear why Pat Benatar and her husband, guitarist Neil Giraldo, âbelong togetherâ. Married for almost 40 years, they are among the most enduring couples in rock, if not at the top of the list.
Correspondent Jim Axelrod asked them: âWorking with someone for four years is a lot; 40? ”
âIt’s crazy,â Giraldo said. “We are basically crazy.”
Only if you define insanity as selling 36 million albums, winning four back-to-back Grammys, and recording 15 Top 40 hits, from “Heartbreaker” to “Treat Me Right” to “Love Is A Battlefield” :
Axelrod asked: “Is it possible to articulate what is the basis of this successful collaboration?” “
Benatar said, “We are connected in so many ways, all combined together; you are parents, you are lovers, you are husband and wife, you are grandparents, you are musicians, you are writers. I mean, c ‘is so !”
Blue collar girl from Long Islanders, she hardly ever got the chance to hit us with her best shotâ¦ choosing young love over her gifted voice: I’m going to go to Vietnam and die. And so, like an idiot, I got married. And he is not dead! And I became a bank teller! ”
And then the story might have ended, if some friends hadn’t taken her to a concert. One of the greatest voices in rock history was born during a concert by Liza Minnelli. âMy fabulous gay friends said, ‘Let’s go see Liza Minnelli at the Richfield Coliseum.’ And it was packed. The stage lights came on. She started to sing. I’m going, ‘I could do that. I could do that. ‘
“The next day I quit my job and started looking for concerts. I had never done anything like this in my life.”
“Literally no Liza Minnelli, no Pat Benatar?” Axelrod asked.
“Yeah. It’s just the fact that I saw someone do what I really, in my heart, really wanted to do.”
Within a few years she divorced and in New York she booked all the clubs she could. Then came Halloween 1977, and her costume, from the B movie “Cat Women of the Moon”.
Spandex – and his career – would never be the same again.
Benatar said, “I had all this big eyeliner, I had this little thing with those black tights and those little short boots and a ray gun. So I was fine, I had concerts and everything. stuff like that. But I sang in costume that night. It was a whole different experience. And I remember standing there like, “Hhmm. What’s going on here. ? “”
What happened was her first recording contract in 1978, which is how she met a 22-year-old guitarist from Cleveland.
Giraldo said: “All I was looking for was a great singer. I just wanted to find him, so I could write songs, produce, make great records.”
âI didn’t want to be a solo artist,â Benatar said. “I wanted what Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had together, or Keith and Mick. I wanted it back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.”
“Was she looking for you before there was a you?” Axelrod asked.
âRight,â Giraldo said, âand I was looking for her. And as soon as I got there, I was like, âWe have to sing in a different key. It must go up. There’s another part of your voice that we’re not getting. ‘”
“We did ‘Heartbreaker’ first. And the minute we did it, I was like ‘That’s it. That’s it.'”
âI knew it, I knew it,â Giraldo said. “I wasn’t looking back.”
They would follow âHeartbreakerâ with three Top 10 hits over the next five years: âHit Me With Your Best Shotâ, âLove Is A Battlefieldâ and âWe Belongâ.
And her hard cookie character would speak to a generation – a female empowerment icon who, decades before #MeToo, took no shit from any DJ who wielded the power to play her songs.
Benatar remembers: “The minute I walked in there he was like, ‘Why don’t you sit here [patting her lap], and we’ll see if we can get this record to play. âOh, I’m going to fuck you. ”
âAt first, I mean, I was still a little shy. And then I finally started to realize, ‘Wait. I have an opportunity here. If I change this for myself, it will start the ripple effect. I had the power now. So that changed everything.
Almost instantly, Benatar and Giraldo realized that their bond was much deeper than that of the musical collaborators.
âThere was that kind of lottery winning component in life,â Axelrod said.
âOh, the chemical thing was ridiculous! Benatar burst out laughing.
In 1982, they were married, formalizing their position of two against the world in the music business. âI didn’t start on my own,â Benatar said. “He and I did this together, from day one.”
Axelrod said: “It seems like it’s important to almost set the record straight. It was a partnership.”
“It was,” Benatar replied. âSomeone said, ‘I don’t understand why his name has to be on the marquee too.’ I said, ‘Because every song you love and listen to is created by him, asshole.’ ”
This kind of pushback, they say, explains one of the great mysteries of the rock universe – that, given its influence, impact and number of hits, how can Pat Benatar not be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? (She is not.)
Axelrod asked, “Do you mind at this point not being at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?”
“No,” she said. âLook, when you win things it’s really fun. But the point is, it validates, doesn’t validate what we’ve done? No. It would be nice to have it for our kids, for the fans, everything. the rest. Do I need someone to recognize it?
“It sounds disarmingly healthy.”
“It’s the truth, once again,” laughed Giraldo.
âLife is not fair,â said Benatar. “What are you going to do?”
Plus, they have better things to focus on: two grown daughters and two grandchildren who live near their home in Los Angeles; and Giraldo launched Three Chord Bourbon, a company that devotes a portion of its sales to helping musicians in difficulty.
And they might just have found the perfect next chapter for their rock & roll love story: using their songs as the basis for a musical – a modern take on âRomeo & Julietâ that they hope to bring to Broadway! ‘next year. âThey always called us the Romeo and Juliet of rock & roll, because they tried to tear us apart so early,â Benatar said. “The balcony scene is ‘We Live for Love’. It’s beautiful. It’s like it’s written for that!”
What would Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo call the series, if not “Invincible”?
âWith ‘Invincible’, with the musical. The whole point of the story is that the differences between us make us stronger, not weaker,â said Benatar. “That’s the point of the story, and that true love exists.”
“Romeo & Juliet, or Neil & Pat?” Axelrod burst out laughing.
âBoth,â she laughed.
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Story produced by Gabriel Falcon. Publisher: Steven Tyler.