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Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar (born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski on 10 January 1953) is an influential, four-time Grammy Award-winning American rock singer with seven platinum and three gold albums to her credit, as well as 19 Top 40 singles. Pat Benatar was eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Benatar is also known for her thrilling mezzo-soprano vocal range.

Biography

Pat Benatar was born Patricia (Patti) Mae to Andy and Mildred Andrzejewski (AND-zhe-YEV-skee) on January 10, 1953 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and raised in Lindenhurst, New York, on Long Island. Of Polish and Irish descent , she would grow up to be one of the most recognized Rock Divas of all time.

Following in the footsteps of her mother who had been in the chorus at the New York City Opera, Andrzejewski started singing in the fourth grade, studied voice (coloratura) for several years and later would be accepted to The Juilliard School. Andrzejewski shocked family and friends however by marrying high-school sweetheart Dennis Benatar after graduating from Lindenhurst Senior High School (1967 - 1971) where she had participated in musical-theater and played such parts as Queen Guinevere in the school production of Camelot. Patti said, "I really wanted to sing rock and roll but I had no outlet."

Dennis, an army draftee, was stationed in Richmond, Virginia, where Patti attended college to become a school teacher and worked as a bank teller. It was Liza Minnelli's concert at the Richmond Coliseum November 15, 1973, that inspired Patti to quit her job the next day and pursue a singing career. Patti took a job as a singing waitress at a flapperesque nightclub named The Roaring Twenties and began singing in lounge band Coxon's Army, a regular at Sam Miller's basement club. The band garnered enough attention to be the subject of a never aired PBS special, and the band's bassist Roger Capps also would go on to be the original bass player for the Pat Benatar band. The period also yielded Patti’s first and only single until her eventual debut on Chrysalis Records in 1979: Day Gig, 1974, Trace Records, written and produced by Coxon's Army band leader Phil Coxon and locally released in Richmond.

Patti's big break came in 1975 at an amateur night at the renowned comedy club Catch a Rising Star in New York. Patti's rousing 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 would become her manager:

"I came in from Virginia one night. I had straight red hair and I wore a dress. I sang a Judy Garland song and I don’t know what happened, I never sang in New York before in my life, even though I grew up there, everybody just went crazy. I didn’t do anything spectacular. I don’t know what happened, it was just one of those magical things. [Rick Newman] came right in and said, ‘Let’s talk about you playing here some more.’"

Mr. Newman said, "It was 2:45 in the morning. We had 30 performers and she was about #27. I was on the other side of the room drinking with some friends--then I suddenly heard this voice!"

The couple moved back to New York that year following Dennis' discharge from the army, and Patti went on to be a regular member of "Catch" for close to three years, until signing a record contract.

Catch wasn't the only break Patti got in 1975. Patti landed the part of Zephyr in Harry Chapin's futuristic rock musical "The Zinger." The production, which debuted on March 19, 1976, at the Performing Arts Foundation's (PAF) Playhouse in Huntington Station, Long Island, ran for a month and also featured Beverly D'Angelo and Christine Lahti.

Halloween 1977 proved a pivotal night for Patti's early, spandexed stage persona. Rather than change out of the vampire costume she had worn to a Greenwich Village cafe party that evening, she went on-stage wearing black eyeliner, black tights, and short black top. All of a sudden, despite performing her usual array of songs, Catch's audience was hit with this strong visual image that matched her exceptional singing and powerful vocal range. This time she received a standing ovation: "The crowd was always polite, but this time they went out of their minds. It was the same songs, sung the same way, and I thought, 'Oh my god...it's these clothes and this makeup!'"

In between appearances at Catch and recording commercial jingles for Pepsi Cola and a number of regional concerns, Pat Benatar headlined New York City’s famous Tramps nightclub March 29 - April 1, 1978, where their knockout performance devoted to original rock material and ballads, plus a few rearranged favorites, including "Bird of Paradise" and "My My My" by Taro Meyers, Roy Orbison's "Crying," and a reggae arrangement of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," impressed representatives from several record companies. They were signed to Chrysalis Records by founder Terry Ellis the following week. Patti said, "There was a long period of three years, when I spent my time taking demo tapes around and being rejected by one record company after another. Then just two days after the debut concert with the band, we were signed to a record contract..."

Pat Benatar debuted the week of August 27, 1979 with the release of I Need A Lover from the album In The Heat Of The Night. Patti said, "My album was the last of a bunch by female singers to come out so I was told not to expect much, even though Mike Chapman was producing."

Pat Benatar won an unprecedented four consecutive Grammy Awards for "Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female" from 1980 to 1983 for Crimes of Passion, "Fire And Ice," "Shadows Of The Night," and "Love Is A Battlefield," and was nominated four more times: "Invincible" in 1985, "Sex As A Weapon" in 1986, "All Fired Up" in 1988 and in 1989 for "Let's Stay Together." Benatar also earned Grammy Award nominations in 1985 for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female with "We Belong" and in 1986 for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Duo or Group as a member of Artists United Against Apartheid for their single "Sun City." Benatar is also the winner of three American Music Awards: Favorite Female Pop/Rock Vocalist of 1981 and 1983, and Favorite Female Pop/Rock Video Artist of 1985. Benatar was twice named Rolling Stone magazine's Favorite Female Vocalist, and Billboard magazine ranks her as the most successful female rock vocalist of all time based on overall record sales and the number of hit songs and their charted positions. Benatar was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

The Benatars divorced in 1979. Patti and band leader/lead guitarist Neil Giraldo married February 20, 1982. The Giraldos have two daughters: Haley Egeana born February 16, 1985, and Hana Juliana born March 12, 1994.

The Music

In the Heat of the Night

Her single "Heartbreaker" was released in late 1979 and was an immediate hit, climbing to #23 in the U.S. Her debut LP, In the Heat of the Night, was even more successful, reaching #12 and establishing Benatar as a new force in rock. The LP featured "I Need a Lover," "Rated X", "Don't Let It Show," as well as the single "We Live for Love", a fusion of rock and New Wave that saw it reach the U.S. Top 30 and become a hit as far away as Australia.

Crimes of Passion

In August 1980, Benatar released her second 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" was her first single to break the U.S. Top 10 and eventually sold more than four million copies in the United States alone. The album reached U.S. #2 in January 1981 (behind Yoko Ono and John Lennon's Double Fantasy) and a month later, Benatar won her first Grammy Award for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1980. Other singles released from Crimes of Passion were "Treat Me Right" (US #18) and "You Better Run", which gained some later notoriety when it was the second music video played on MTV, after the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star". The album remained on the US album charts for 93 weeks.

Precious Time

Benatar's first (and as yet only) U.S. chart-topper was the LP Precious Time, released in August 1981. It was also her first to chart in the UK, reaching #30. The album's lead single, "Fire and Ice", was another big hit (U.S. #17, AUS #30) and would win Benatar her second Grammy Award, this time for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1981.

Get Nervous

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, and the single would garner Benatar yet another Grammy, again for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1982. The follow-up single, "Little Too Late", was also successful, hitting US #20. 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.

Live from Earth

By 1983, Benatar had established a reputation for singing about "tough" subject matters, with a significant amount of songs featuring a "battle" metaphor. This was best exemplified by one of the biggest hits of her career, "Love Is a Battlefield" (penned by noted hit songwriter Holly Knight), 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 direction was a huge commercial success, with the single peaking at #5 in the United States, her first hit single in the UK at #49, and #1 in Australia for seven weeks. The song would also net Benatar her fourth consecutive Grammy Award for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1983. A live album, Live from Earth, from which "Love Is a Battlefield" was one of two studio-recorded tracks, hit U.S. #13.

Tropico

In late 1984, the single "We Belong" became another Top 5 smash in America (also hitting UK #22 and AUS #7) but the LP Tropico became her first studio album since the 1979 debut to fail to crack the US Top 10, reaching #14 (AUS #9). A second single release, "Ooh Ooh Song," reached U.S. #36.

Seven the Hard Way

Benatar would hit the U.S. Top 10 with the #10 single "Invincible" in 1985. "Sex As a Weapon" would climb as high as #28 in January 1986 and the LP Seven the Hard Way peaked at #26, earning an RIAA Gold certification.

Wide Awake in Dreamland

A single lifted from the album, "All Fired Up" (written by Kerryn Tolhurst, ex-The Dingoes) went Top 20 in the USA and UK and was a #2 smash in Australia, becoming one of the biggest hits of 1988 in that country.

Best Shots: International Success

Best Shots was 1st released in the UK in 1987 and in the US in 1989. The US version included 15 tracks on 1 CD, 1 live version of "Hell Is for Children" with Suffer the Little Children intro, "Painted Desert" (from Tropico) and a remixed version of "Outlaw Blues" (also from Tropico). This was the only official greatest hits until 1994 when All Fired Up: The Very Best of Pat Benatar was released (2 CD). The box set Synchronistic Wanderings (3 CD) was released in 1999.

Her appeal in the UK began to grow with the 1987 greatest hits LP, Best Shots, reaching #6 and gold sales status, and re-released singles "Love Is a Battlefield" and "Shadows of the Night" charting at #17 and #50, respectively. Her standing in Australia (always Benatar's most successful territory outside of North America), also remained undiminished, with Seven the Hard Way hitting the Top 10, and Best Shots the top 20.

The 1990s

During the 1990s Pat Benatar released 3 original albums.

True Love was a jump blues record, released in 1991 and featured the blues band Roomful of Blues, backing up Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo and Myron Grombacher. The album sold over 339,000. albums without any radio airplay and limited exposure on VH-1.

Gravity's Rainbow was released in 1993 and was a return to the AOR genre. "Everybody Lay Down" was released as a single to rock radio and went all the way to #3. The single was never released to Top 40 radio and a music video was never produced. "Somebody's Baby" was instead released as the 1st single to Top 40 radio and a music video produced. A third single 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. Pat Benatar had become pregnant and this may have had an effect on her label's support of the album. This was the last album recorded for Chrysalis records.

Innamorata was released in 1997 on the CMC International record label. A single video was produced for "Strawberry Wine (Life is Sweet)".

The 2000s and beyond

Pat Benatar has released only one album of new material since 1997's Innamorata, which is 2003's Go. The album included the 9/11 charity single, "Christmas in America" as a bonus track. A compilation video was produced for the single "Have it All", but was never released, the only video from this album is for the bonus track.

Many best of/greatest hits compilations have been released over the years by Pat Benatar's former record company. Most notably, 1989's Best Shots (album), 2005's Greatest Hits (Pat Benatar album) and 2008's Pat Benatar Ultimate Collection (featuring the version of "Everytime I Fall Back" from her appearance on The Young and the Restless).

Fall 2008, Pat Benatar will release an acoustic album of some of her hits and album tracks on her own record label, Bel Chiasso Records.

2009 will mark the 30th anniversary for Pat Benatar's 1st album. During the 2008 summer tour Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo have said that many "big things" are in the works for the 30th anniversary.

The band

Although billed as a solo artist, Benatar recorded and toured with a consistent set of band members over most of her career, who contributed greatly to the writing and producing of songs and are recognizable characters on album photos and in many of her music videos.

  • Neil "Spyder" Giraldo (incorrectly spelled as "Geraldo" in early liner notes/credits) is the distinctive lead guitarist of the band and has performed on all of Benatar's albums. (He is also Pat's second husband.) Neil also sings, plays keyboards and harmonica, and has many writing and producing credits on the Benatar albums. Neil performed with Myron Grombacher in Rick Derringer's touring band, appearing in a possible bootleg entitled Derringer Live At The Paradise Theater Boston, Massachusetts, July 7, 1978 (UPC 672627400428).
  • Myron Grombacher is billed as drummer on nine of Benatar's albums and has numerous writing credits. Myron is easily recognizable in the music videos, particularly as the mad dentist in 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.
  • The original bass guitarist was Roger Capps, replaced on Tropico by Donnie Nossov, and then later by Frank Linx.
  • Scott Sheets is credited on rhythm guitar on the first few albums.

Other achievements

Benatar still writes and tours with her husband, Neil Giraldo.

In the summer of 2005, the couple's older daughter, Haley Giraldo, starred in E!'s reality TV series Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive.

Stage and screen

Benatar played the character Zephyr in Harry Chapin's futuristic rock musical "The Zinger". Set in a recording studio sometime around the year 2000, the production, which debuted on March 19, 1976, at the Performing Arts Foundation's (PAF) Playhouse in Huntington Station, Long Island, renamed the Harry Chapin Center, ran for a month and also featured Beverly D'Angelo and Christine Lahti. Benatar said, "It was great. I had an afro wig with glitter on! It was so fabulous." Benatar performed the solo "Shooting Star" in honor of Chapin for the Harry Chapin Tribute, Carnegie Hall, December 7, 1987.

In 1980, she portrayed the character "Jeanette Florescu" in Marcus Reichert's film noir Union City.

Benatar had a song featured in the 1980s version of the 1926 movie Metropolis.

In 1985, "Invincible" was the title track to the cult movie The Legend of Billie Jean.

In April of 1989 she appeared in an "ABC Afterschool Special" entitled "Torn Between Two Fathers" about a teenage girl who sues her natural father for the right to remain in her step-family's home following the accidental death of her natural mother. Pat played "Donna", the current wife of the teenager's natural father.

Benatar has made numerous TV appearances, mostly as herself. She appeared with her husband 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 2006, Benatar performed at the July 4th music event in Dublin, Ohio.

The song "Love Is a Battlefield" was featured twice on South Park, the first being the Season 2 episode "Ike's Wee Wee", but most notably in the episode "Red Man's Greed".

She appeared on an episode of the short-lived sitcom That '80s Show, as herself. She was an old rival of the character Margaret. Her video for "Love Is a Battlefield" appeared on an earlier episode of the show as well.

The song "Love Is a Battlefield" was also used in the 2004 comedy movie 13 Going on 30, starring Jennifer Garner.

On February 14 and 15, 2008, she and husband Neil "Spyder" Giraldo appeared as themselves on The Young and the Restless when they performed at the Indigo club.

In 2007-2008, Pat Benatar's single "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" was put into the songlist for Guitar Hero 3, in the first tier of songs. Her song "Heartbreaker" is a playable song in the upcoming video game follow-up, Guitar Hero: World Tour.

In 2008 the song "Shadows of the Night" was covered by Ashley Tisdale for the made-for-TV movie; Picture This

Advertising

In 2006, the song "We Belong" was part of a $20 million dollar ad campaign for Sheraton hotels, although the version used in the commercial was not Benatar's. Her version of the song is featured in the 2006 comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, starring Will Ferrell and directed by Adam McKay.

Though she had earlier expressed dismay for rock stars endorsing products (including onetime cohort Debbie Harry, who had developed her modeling career simultaneously to her rock career), Benatar herself has now become a commercial spokeswoman for the Energizer company, and is currently being featured in an ad for Candies Vintage shoes for Kohl's department store. Her 2007 song "Passion" can be downloaded free from the Jell-O official site.

Discography

References

External links

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