Since putting the brakes on and focusing on her mental health and family life, Pat Benatar has reduced her connection with younger generations. However, if you grew up in the 1980s it was impossible to deny her power in music and pop culture. Today, January 10, 2023, Patricia Andrzejewski (she was the daughter of Polish immigrants), Benatar after her first marriage, turns 70.
As she says in her biography, she dreamed of being Robert Plant, at a time when few women fronted rock bands. Pat’s sound blended rock and pop, making her radio irresistible. Heartbreaker from 1979’s In the Heat of the Night and Hit Me with Your Best Shot from the Crimes of Passion album made her an international star. Then came Precious Time, from 1981, and my favorite, Get Nervous, from 1982, supported by the newly created MTV put the rocker at the top. She won four Grammys, influenced the fashion of the 1980s, and became a mandatory reference for all women who liked a fuller sound and a less angelic attitude.
Pat’s career was not created in dreams, but almost by coincidence. She always had vocal talent, but she didn’t think about continuing with Art. Born in New York (Brooklyn) but accompanying her first husband, an American soldier, who was stationed in Virginia, she started singing in a band, Coxon’s Army, with which she released a single in 1974. Solo, she returned to New York, where she performed in concert halls and recorded jingles to support herself, catching the attention of record companies. She got divorced, kept her husband’s last name (strong and easier to pronounce), and in 1978 got ready to release her first album.
Destiny placed the young guitarist Neil Giraldo in her life, her immediate musical partner, and, within a few years, her husband. In the Heat of the Night was a success, with two singles that would become classics, Heartbreaker and I Need a Lover. When she recorded Crimes of Passion the following year, she maintained the quality and established herself as a star, reaching multi-platinum and other hits like Treat Me Right, You Better Run and Hit Me with Your Best Shot. When the Precious Time album hit stores in 1981, Fire and Ice shot her to the top of the US charts. 1982’s Get Nervous is an iconic and important album, which sings about mental health, depression, and female empowerment, decades before the issues gained traction. Live from Earth covered the traditional live record so popular in that decade, but with one of the most important tracks by the Benatar-Giraldo duo, Love Is a Battlefield, one of the anthems of the 1980s.
Pat’s sound became less rock and more pop in the second turn of the 1980s, signaling an even more radical change when she entered the 1990s and she wanted to move into blues and R&B. It had less of an impact and not even going back to its roots did it recover its initial projection. Not that she wanted to or was what moved her.
Living in Hawaii, and doing smaller tours only a few months out of the year, Pat has maintained her loyal fan base. She released her biography in 2010 and continues to play, now as a duo, Benatar-Giraldo.
Today, January 10, 2023, Pat Benatar turns 70. Her hits, including the ballad We Belong, are true anthems that still touch generations. Last year, in 2022, she and Neil Giraldo were inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Merited. Here is my tribute to the birthday girl.