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Pat Benatar

Born January tenth, 1953 in the Greenpoint area of Brooklyn, New York to a beautician and sheet metal worker, Patricia Andrzejewski became Pat Benatar while still a teenager. Although Pat was preparing for classical studies at the famed Juilliard School of Music, after graduating Lindenhurst High School on Long Island in 1971, she married her high school sweetheart, Army GI Dennis Benatar, and moved to Virginia where he was stationed. While supporting herself as a bank clerk and waitress at a Friendly's in Richmond, Pat began her career as a singing waitress in a "Roaring Twenties" theme restaurant as well as performing in motel lounges. By the late-seventies, after returning to New York, they divorced.

Still intent on performing, after Pat began appearing in cabarets on Long Island, she received a role in the off-Broadway science-fiction musical, The Zinger. Years later, in 1990, invited to perform on a tribute album for The Zinger's composer, Harry Chapin, she performed a song from the show, Shooting Star. Meanwhile, these jobs led to stints on the cabaret circuit in Manhattan. It was at this time that Pat's performances gradually began to shift musically, sometimes taking a harder edge towards pop and rock'n'roll.

Eventually, she found her way over to open mike nights at the famous New York City club, Catch A Rising Star, where she caught the eye (and ear) of the club's owner, Rick Newman, who ultimately became her first manager. It has been reported that Pat garnered a regular slot there singing a cover of Judy Garland's Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody at three o'clock in the morning! If anyone has a copy of this, please contact this Web site.

Halloween, 1977, however, was a pivotal night in her career. 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 just her usual array of songs, Rising Star'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. By 1978, Chrysalis Records had signed Pat Benatar.

Enter Neil Geraldo (later Giraldo), who himself was a multi-talented musician and had been a member of Rick Derringer's band. With a passion for the guitar, and tired of always playing keyboards, ultimately Neil left and he too headed for New York. It was then that Chrysalis matched Neil's prolific talents with Pat's remarkable voice, and the two of them instantly discovered a camaraderie that was strong enough for them to organize a band and move to southern California.

The next year the rest of us were let in on this talented combination! In 1979, Pat Benatar released their first record, In the Heat of the Night. Certified platinum fourteen months later by selling over a million copies, it also gave them their first 'Top 40' smashes, Heartbreaker and We Live for Love, the latter which was also written by Neil.

Their sophomore album was even bigger! Attaining quadruple platinum status, Crimes of Passion shot all the way to number two, led by Hit Me with Your Best Shot, the first single to go both gold and make its way into the 'Top 10.' This massive success also marked the beginning of an unprecedented number of industry accolades including Billboard Music Awards and Grammy's.

Of note, during the 1980's decade, Pat Benatar received Grammy nominations (mostly for "Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female") in eight of those years! Even more remarkable, however, was winning it an incredible four years in a row, something no one else has done! Tina Turner has also won four times, but did it in 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1989, as in 1988, there was no category differentiated by gender, and "Best Rock Performance, Solo" went to Bruce Springsteen.

Meanwhile, back in 1981, Precious Time, led by the Award winning hit single Fire and Ice, was released. Their third record spent over a year on the charts hitting the number one position! It went double platinum!

For an interesting bit of trivia, many people recall that the Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star was, appropriately enough, the first video ever aired on the brand new Music Television cable channel. It was, however, Pat Benatar's own first video, You Better Run, that was the second video ever played on that influential network. About this same time, in 1982, Pat married Neil, who has become, in her words, her "husband/producer/guitar/player/co-writer/life partner..."

Anyone harboring lingering doubts about Pat Benatar's staying power surely realized none of this success was a fluke when 1982's platinum Top Ten album, Get Nervous debuted, featuring Shadows of the Night (which was the song that garnered the third Grammy Award). In 1983, we got the platinum certified Live from Earth, a live set containing Love Is A Battlefield, which in addition to Gold and 'Top Five' status, earned that fourth consecutive Grammy. 1984's Tropico, led by the smash hit We Belong, gave Pat Benatar six straight platinum albums!

Their seventh album, Seven the Hard Way, featured the popular Grammy-nominated movie theme from The Legend of Billie Jean, Invincible. Attaining gold status, it was to be the last album for nearly three years. Earlier that year, Neil and Pat had become the proud parents of their first baby girl, Haley, who now performs in her own all-girl band, Glo-Girls.

By 1988, they were back with the gold certified Wide Awake in Dreamland, led by the Top Twenty hit, All Fired Up. Earning themselves two Grammy nominations along the way, Timothy White, the Editor In Chief of Billboard reports that this was "arguably Benatar's finest album." Shortly before achieving its gold status, however, doctors had to perform emergency abdominal surgery on Pat.

Best Shots, the first of many greatest hits compilations, was released the following year and in 2001 became their seventh album to go platinum. When they returned in 1991 with a selection of unreleased songs (comprising a mixture of originals and covers), it was not just new material presented us but a whole new format! Taking a departure from rock 'n' roll, True Love, while probably a few years too early for the retro fad to take hold later in the 1990s, was blues style music backed by the horns from Roomful of Blues.

When this tenth release also achieved gold status, it meant that all of their first ten albums achieved this highly successful milestone (with seven also being certified platinum)! 1993's Gravity's Rainbow, while evident that the band was still redefining their sound, definitely included their first return to rock in five years. Two songs, Everybody Lay Down and Somebody's Baby, had the potential to repeat or surpass their earlier successes, but, inexplicably, their label (Chrysalis) completely and utterly failed to promote these outstanding tracks.

In 1997, now with a new record company (CMC International), came Innamorata. Representing yet another change consisting of some acoustic and folk style performances, it was their first album of new material in four years. During that hiatus, while Pat and Neil were blessed by a second daughter, Hana, they were exploited by their old record label with as many compilations released in as many years. 1994 yielded us the first two-disc set titled, All Fired Up: The Very Best Of Pat Benatar followed by a scarcely distributed three-disc set in 1995 called 36 All-Time Greatest Hits. Heartbreaker: 16 Classic Performances, put out in 1996, is on one disc.

1998 also gave us another live concert with previously unreleased performances mostly from The Old Waldorf in San Francisco. The album's title, 8-15-80 is the date of the show. As is indicated in the title, the next year Synchronistic Wanderings: Recorded Anthology 1979-1999 was released. An absolutely comprehensive collection of 53 excellent selections, its value is further enhanced with a fantastic 56-page book including extensive song by song annotations!


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