Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar

Benatar performing in 2007
Born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski
(1953-01-10) January 10, 1953[1]
Brooklyn, New York, United States
  • Dennis Benatar (m. 1972; div. 1978)
  • Neil Giraldo (m. 1982)
  • Haley Giraldo
  • Hana Giraldo

Musical career

  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • Vocals
  • acoustic guitar
Years active 1972–present

Patricia Mae Andrzejewski (born January 10, 1953[1]), known professionally by her stage name Pat Benatar, is an American singer, songwriter, and four time Grammy Award winner. She is a soprano. She has had commercial success, particularly in the United States and Canada. During the 1980s, Benatar had two RIAA-certified multi-platinum albums, five RIAA-certified platinum albums, three RIAA-certified gold albums, 17 Billboard chartings, 15 of them being Top 40 singles, including the Top 10 hits "Hit Me with Your Best Shot", "Love Is a Battlefield", "We Belong", and "Invincible".[2] Other popular singles include "Heartbreaker", "Treat Me Right", "Fire and Ice", "Promises in the Dark", "Shadows of the Night", and "All Fired Up". Benatar was one of the most heavily played artists in the early days of MTV. She was the first female artist to play on MTV, performing "You Better Run".[3]

Life and career

1953–78: Early life and career beginnings

Patricia Mae Andrzejewski was born in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York City. Her mother, Mildred (née Knapp), was a beautician, and her father, Andrew Andrzejewski, was a sheet-metal worker.[4] Her father was of Polish descent and her mother was of German, English, and Irish ancestry.[5] Her family moved to North Hamilton Avenue in Lindenhurst, New York, a village in the Long Island town of Babylon.[6]

She became interested in theater and began voice lessons, singing her first solo at the age of eight, at Daniel Street Elementary School, a song called "It Must Be Spring". At Lindenhurst Senior High School (1967–71), she participated in musical theater, playing Queen Guinevere in the school production of Camelot, marching in the homecoming parade, singing at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, and performing a solo of "The Christmas Song" on a holiday recording of the Lindenhurst High School Choir her senior year.

Pat Benatar performing live in Sydney, October 22, 2010.

Training as a coloratura with plans to attend the Juilliard School, Benatar surprised family, friends and teachers by deciding a classical career was not for her and pursued health education at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. At 19, after one year at Stony Brook, she dropped out to marry her first husband, high school sweetheart Dennis Benatar, an army draftee who trained at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and then served with the Army Security Agency at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, before being stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia, where Dennis (Specialist (E-4)) was stationed for three years; Pat worked as a bank teller near Richmond, Virginia.

In 1971, Benatar quit her job as a bank teller to pursue a singing career after being inspired by a Liza Minnelli concert she saw in Richmond. She got a job as a singing waitress at a flapper-esque nightclub named The Roaring Twenties and got a gig singing in the 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 went on to be the original bass player for the Pat Benatar Band. The period also yielded Benatar's first and only single until her eventual 1979 debut single (taken from the album 'In the Heat of the Night' on Chrysalis Records): "Day Gig" (1974), Trace Records, written and produced by Coxon's Army band leader Phil Coxon and locally released in Richmond. Her big break came in 1975 at an amateur night at the comedy club Catch a Rising Star in New York . Her 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 became her manager.

The couple headed back to New York following Dennis' discharge from the army, and Benatar went on to be a regular member at Catch a Rising Star for close to three years, until signing a record contract. Catch a Rising Star was not the only break Benatar got in 1975. She landed the part of Zephyr in Harry Chapin's futuristic rock musical, The Zinger.[7] 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. Benatar noted: "I was 22 by the time I started to sing rock, so at first I was very conscious of technique and I was overly technical. That proved to be inhibiting so it was a disadvantage until I began to sing intuitively. That’s the only way to sing rock – from your gut level feelings. It's the instinct that the best singers have."[8]

Halloween 1977 proved a pivotal night in Benatar's early, spandexed stage persona. Rather than change out of the costume she wore to a Halloween contest at the Cafe Figaro in Greenwich Village that evening, she went onstage at Catch a Rising Star in costume. Benatar said: "I was dressed as a character from this ridiculous B movie called Cat-Women of the Moon."[9] Between appearances at Catch a Rising Star and recording commercial jingles for Pepsi Cola and a number of regional concerns, she headlined New York City's Tramps nightclub from March 29 – April 1, 1978, where her performance impressed representatives from several record companies. She was signed to Chrysalis Records by co-founder Terry Ellis the following week.[10] Benatar and Dennis divorced shortly after.

1979–81: In the Heat of the Night and Crimes of Passion

Benatar's debut album In the Heat of the Night was released in August 1979, and reached #12 in the US in early 1980. Producer Mike Chapman, who had worked with Blondie and the Knack, broke his vow not to take on any new artists when he heard Benatar's demo tape. Chapman personally produced three tracks on the album, while his long-time engineer and now independent producer, Peter Coleman (who also supervised Nick Gilder) oversaw the rest. In addition, Chapman and his song-writing partner, Nicky Chinn, wrote three songs that appear on the LP, "In the Heat of the Night" and "If You Think You Know How to Love Me" which were previously recorded by Smokie, and a rearranged version of a song they wrote for Sweet, "No You Don't". The album also featured two songs written by Roger Capps and Benatar, and "I Need a Lover" written by John Mellencamp (then billed as John Cougar) and "Don't Let It Show" written by Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson. The album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in December 1980.[11] In Canada it was certified 4x platinum where it peaked at number 3 on the RPM albums chart[12]

"If You Think You Know How to Love Me" was the first single to be released on September 14, 1979. However, it was unsuccessful. Benatar's second single "Heartbreaker" was released on October 26, 1979 and became a hit, climbing to #23 in the US. A third single "We Live for Love," which was written by her future husband Neil Giraldo, was released in February 1980, and reached US #27.[13]

In August 1980, Benatar released her 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" (US #9) was her first single to break the US Top 10 and sold more than a million copies (gold status) in the United States. The album peaked for five consecutive weeks at #2 in the US in January 1981 (behind John Lennon's and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy) and eventually sold over five million copies, and a month later, Benatar won her first Grammy Award for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1980 for the album.[14] Other singles released from Crimes of Passion were "Treat Me Right" (US #18) and the Rascals' cover, "You Better Run" (US #42), which was the second music video ever played on MTV, after the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star".[10][15][16] The album also featured a changed-tempo cover of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights". Nominally produced by Keith Olsen, Crimes of Passion remained on the US album charts for 93 weeks and in the top 10 for more than six months, eventually becoming her first platinum certification by the RIAA. In October 1980, Benatar (along with future husband Neil Giraldo) appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The album was certified 5x platinum in Canada, her best selling album in that country where it peaked at number 2 on the album charts.[17]

1982–83: Precious Time, Get Nervous, and Live from Earth

In July 1981, her third LP, Precious Time was released. A month later, the album hit #1 on the Billboard US Top 200 LP chart. It was also her first to chart in the UK, reaching #30. The album's lead single, "Fire and Ice", (co-written by band member Scott Sheets) was another big hit (US #17, AUS #30) and won Benatar her second Grammy Award, this time for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1981 and her third consecutive RIAA certified platinum album. In Canada it was certified double platinum and peaked at number 2 on the albums chart.[18] Promises in the Dark (US #38) was also released.

In August 1981, Benatar's video for "You Better Run" was the second clip aired by MTV, making Pat Benatar the first solo female artist to appear on the channel, and Scott Sheets and Neil Giraldo the first guitarists, because there was no guitarist on the first video played on MTV, which was the Buggles song "Video Killed the Radio Star". The Benatar video was specifically chosen by MTV to echo the message to the radio industry contained in "Video Killed the Radio Star", that things were going to change. [15]

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, her fourth consecutive RIAA and CRIA platinum certification, and the single garnered Benatar her third Grammy, again for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1982. The follow-up singles, "Little Too Late" and "Looking for a Stranger", were also successful, hitting US #20 and #39 respectively. 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. The album was certified platinum in Canada where it peaked at 16 on the album charts.[19]

By 1983, Benatar had established a reputation for singing about "tough" subject matters, best exemplified by one of the biggest hits of her career, "Love Is a Battlefield" (penned by noted hit songwriter Holly Knight with Mike Chapman), 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/rock direction was a huge commercial success, with the single peaking at #5 in the United States, and #1 in Australia for seven consecutive weeks. The song gained interest in the UK where it peaked at #49. The song also netted Benatar her fourth consecutive Grammy Award for "Best Female Rock Vocal Performance" of 1983. A live album, Live from Earth, which was recorded during Benatar's sold-out 'Get Nervous' world tour of America and Europe in 1982 and 1983, contained two studio tracks, "Love Is a Battlefield" and "Lipstick Lies". The album peaked at US #13 and became her fifth consecutive RIAA and CRIA platinum winner.[11] The album peaked at 25 on the Canadian albums chart.[19]

1984–86: Tropico, Seven the Hard Way

In August 1984, Benatar released her fifth studio album, Tropico (US #14, AUS #9, UK #31). The single "We Belong", released in October 1984, a month prior to the album release, became another top 10 hit in the US peaking at #5 and #7 in Australia. It was also Benatar's first ever UK top 40 hit, where it peaked at #22. A second single release, "Ooh Ooh Song", reached US #36. It is also said by Benatar and Giraldo that this album is the first where they moved away from Benatar's famed "hard rock" sound and start experimenting with new, sometimes "gentler", styles and sounds. Despite not quite making the US Top 10, it immediately earned her a sixth consecutive RIAA and CRIA platinum-certified album. In Canada, the album peaked at 21 on the album charts.[19]

After the chart success of "We Belong" in the UK, "Love is a Battlefield" was re-released in early 1985 and became her highest chart hit there, reaching #17.

"We Belong" was also nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1986. Benatar's first nomination in that category.

In 1985, she released her sixth studio album, Seven the Hard Way. Benatar hit the US Top 10 with the Grammy nominated single "Invincible" (the theme from the movie The Legend of Billie Jean) (#10) which was written by Holly Knight (Love Is a Battlefield) and Simon Climie in 1985, three full months before the album was released. Her other Grammy nominated single, "Sex As a Weapon", climbed as high as #28 in January 1986, and "Le Bel Age" (#54) in February. The album Seven the Hard Way peaked at #26, earning an RIAA Gold certification (import CD). In Canada, it was her seventh consecutive platinum certified album and it peaked at 36 on the albums sales chart. In Benatar's autobiography, Between a Heart and a Rock Place, she said, "Out of all the albums, Seven the Hard Way cost the most to make and sold the least." The album sold approximately 600,000 US copies.[20]

1987–88: Best Shots and Wide Awake in Dreamland

In July 1988, Benatar released her seventh studio album, Wide Awake in Dreamland (US #28, UK #11). The Grammy nominated and lead single, "All Fired Up" (written by Kerryn Tolhurst, ex-The Dingoes) reached #19 in both the U.S. and the U.K., and was a #2 smash in Australia, becoming one of the biggest hits of 1988 in that country. Other singles released from the LP are "Don't Walk Away" (UK #42), the Grammy nominated "Let's Stay Together", and "One Love" (UK #59). The album also earned an RIAA gold certification and was her eighth consecutive platinum certified album in Canada, where it peaked at 11 on the albums chart.[21]

Best Shots (US #67) was first released in the U.K. in 1987, where it became Benatar's biggest selling album in the U.K., it reached #6 and achieved Gold sales status. The album reached #20 in Australia. In the U.S., it was released in November 1989. The U.S. version consisted of 15 tracks on a single CD, including a 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). It was another certified RIAA gold (later platinum) album. Best Shots was the only official greatest hits compilation 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.

1989–present: True Love, Gravity's Rainbow, and Go

True Love was a jump blues record, released in late April 1991, and featured the blues band Roomful of Blues, backing up Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo and Myron Grombacher. The album sold over 339,000[22] copies without significant radio airplay and limited exposure on VH-1. "Payin' the Cost to Be the Boss", "So Long", and the title cut were released as singles. The album reached #40 in the UK and #37 in the US. It was certified gold in Canada for sales of 50,000 units, her first to not achieve platinum status and her last certified album for that country where it peaked at 22 on the albums sales chart.[23]

Gravity's Rainbow (US #85) was released in 1993 and was a return to the AOR genre. "Everybody Lay Down" was picked up by Album Rock radio and went all the way to #3. The single was never released to Top 40/Contemporary Hit Radio and a music video was never produced. "Somebody's Baby" was instead released as the single to Top 40 radio and a music video produced. In Canada the album peaked at 44 on the albums sale charts.[24]

A third track 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. Benatar had become pregnant again and this may have had an effect on her label's support of the album. The tour for this album was only 7 dates, cut short because of the pregnancy. This was Benatar's last album recorded for Chrysalis records. With very little promotion from Chrysalis, Gravity's Rainbow failed to have the same commercial success as Benatar's previous works. According to SoundScan, the album sold approximately 160,000 copies in the United States. It is currently available in a 2 for 1 release with "True Love" (import).

Innamorata (US #171) was released in 1997 on the CMC International record label. A single video was produced for "Strawberry Wine (Life is Sweet)". According to SoundScan, the album sold close to 65,000 copies.

Benatar has released only one album of new material since 1997's Innamorata, which is 2003's Go (US #187). The album included the 9/11 charity single, "Christmas in America" as a bonus track. A video was produced for the single "Have It All", but was never released until it was leaked on YouTube in 2012; the only video from this album is for the bonus track. They reunited with Holly Knight with Neil and Holly cowriting the tune "Girl". The hard rock title track "Go!" became a popular performance song for Benatar's future concerts. According to SoundScan, the album has now sold nearly 34,000 copies.

Personal life

Pat Benatar married her high school sweetheart Dennis Benatar at the age of 19 in 1972, but divorced in 1979. She has been married to her second husband, guitarist Neil Giraldo, since 1982, and they have two daughters[25] and live in Los Angeles, California.[26]



In June 2010, Benatar's memoir, Between a Heart and a Rock Place was released. The book was published by HarperCollins and was acquired by Lisa Sharkey. Benatar's memoir touches on her battles with her record company Chrysalis, the difficulties her career caused in her personal life, and feminism. In the memoir, she is quoted as saying, "For every day since I was old enough to think, I've considered myself a feminist … It's empowering to watch and to know that, perhaps in some way, I made the hard path [women] have to walk just a little bit easier."[30] The book went on to become a New York Times bestseller. Initially reluctant to undertake the project, she found the actual writing process so enjoyable that it inspired her with plans to write a novel.[28] In summer 2011, Benatar announced she was working on a Christmas album and a novel about the second coming of Christ.[31]


Neil Giraldo, lead guitarist (and husband) for Pat Benatar performing live in Sydney. October 22, 2010.

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.

Other achievements

Pat Benatar performing with her husband and lead guitarist, Neil Giraldo. Live in Sydney, October 22, 2010.

Stage and screen soundtracks



In 2006, the song "We Belong" was part of a $20 million ad campaign for Sheraton hotels,[35] although the version used in the commercial was not Benatar's. Her version of the song is featured in the 2006 comedy film 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 became a commercial spokeswoman for the Energizer company, and has been featured in an ad for Candies Vintage shoes for Kohl's department store. In 2007, her song "Passion" could be downloaded free from the official Jell-O web site.



  1. 1 2 Prato, Greg. "Pat Benatar: Biography". AllMusic. Archived from the original on June 26, 2016. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  2. "RIAA Celebrates 50 Years of Gold Records" (Press release). Recording Industry Association of America. August 11, 2008. Archived from the original on August 18, 2008. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  3. Prato, Greg (January 10, 1953). "Pat Benatar | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  4. "Andrzejewski Wave File". Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  5. "Pat Benatar The Italian Site, Piazza Alimonda 14 R, Genova". Retrieved April 24, 2011.
  6. James, Carolyn. ["Pat Benatar gets key to Babylon Town: Former resident honored for outstanding achievement"], The Beacon, August 22, 2002
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  8. "Rock's Coloratura Takes Some Tough Shots". Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  9. "Pat Benatar and Sienna Miller – Rock Star Style Sisters". December 4, 2008. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  10. 1 2 "Pat Benatar profile at". Hip Online. January 5, 2008. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  11. 1 2 "Recording Industry Association of America". RIAA. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  12. "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  13. "Pat Benatar". AllMusic. January 10, 1953. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  14. "". Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  15. 1 2 11/1/94. "You Better Run music video". Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  16. Trouser Press claims that the second video on MTV was by Todd Rundgren.Kopp, Bill. "Todd Rundgren". Trouser Press. Trouser Press LLC. Retrieved January 6, 2008. 'Time Heals'... became the subject of an innovative music video, remembered now as the second video ever shown on MTV.
  17. "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  18. "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  19. 1 2 3 "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved February 19, 2013.
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  21. "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  22. Billboard "Ask Billboard".
  23. "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  24. "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  25. "Pat Benatar And Neil Giraldo: Star-Crossed Lovers, Partners For More Than 30 Years".
  26. "Pat Benatar takes her best shot in new book".
  27. "Blondie and Pat Benatar Launch 2009 Summer Tour!". May 11, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
  28. 1 2 "Pat Benatar takes her best shot in new book". Newsday. June 14, 2010. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  29. "Official Website | Cher Confirms Cyndi Lauper As Special Guest on Her Upcoming Dressed To Kill Tour. On Wwhl With Andy Cohen". Cher. January 29, 2014. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  30. "0 best moments from Pat Benatar's memoir". Salon. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
  31. "Pat Benatar Plans Christmas Album, Jesus Christ Novel". September 14, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2012.
  35. Richard L. Johnson (April 10, 2006). "". Retrieved June 14, 2012.

Further reading

External links

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