AKA Patricia Mae Andrzejewski
Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Love is a Battlefield
The preeminent rock chick of the 1980s, Pat Benatar was born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski in Brooklyn and raised in a working-class Long Island neighborhood. Her mother was employed as a cosmetologist, but also worked part-time as a singer; Patricia was quick to take up this creative activity for herself, singing in church and at school before moving on to vocal training for opera in her late teens. Ultimately, the excessively formal and uninspired nature of the training proved too restrictive to her sensibilitites, and she abandoned an academic musical direction. Right after her graduation from high school she married draftee Dennis Benatar, relocating with him to a military station in Virginia; at this time she made the decision to become active once again as a performer, taking a less-than-promising job as a singing waitress at a flapperesque nightclub named The Roaring Twenties. By 1975 Benatar and her husband had returned to New York, only to divorce shortly afterwards. The young singer subsequently renewed her efforts at a music career with even more determination.
After several years of performing on the New York cabaret circuit and in small, off-Broadway productions, Benatar made her first concrete step towards establishing herself as a recording artist through participation in an 'open mic' evening at the 'Catch A Rising Star' club in 1978. Her rendition of the Judy Garland song Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With A Dixie Melody was greeted by the audience with considerable enthusiasm, and shortly afterwards the club's owner Rick Newman assumed mangement duties for Benatar's career. Before the end of 1978 she had a contract with Chrysalis Records, and early the following year her first album, In The Heat of the Night, was on the shelves. By this time Benatar had traded in her cabaret-oriented approach for her now well-known tough-chick persona; both the image and the music suited the times perfectly, and the album (propelled by the top 40 single Heartbreaker) became an immediate, platinum-selling hit.
Over the next three years Pat Benatar released three more albums: Crimes of Passion (1980), Precious Time (1981), and Get Nervous (1982), each of which attained platinum sales and spawned their own batch of well-received singles (the most popular being her second album Crimes of Passion and it's singles Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Treat Me Right). Within the span of these three releases the singer not only established herself as one of the leading female performers, but brought an end to the male-exclusive membership of the arena rock genre, purely on the strength of having more talent than any dozen of the girly-boy hair bands active at the time. A re-enforcement of this status was achieved with the release of the live document Live from Earth (1983) -- an album whose studio-recorded single Love is a Battlefield would become one of the more popular videos in rotation during the early years of MTV. In 1982 she married Neil Giraldo, who had been her guitarist and musical collaborator since her first album; their partnership (both musical and personal) has continued up to the present day.
With the creation of her sixth album Tropico, Benatar and Giraldo began to move away from the bad-ass image and sound of her earlier albums and towards a more mainstream pop style, while still managing to score another high-charting single with the track We Belong. This change in direction became increasingly more evident over the next pair of albums -- Seven the Hard Way (1985) and Wide Awake in Dreamland (1988) -- resulting in a corresponding drop in mass popularity (the top-40 zombies as usual taking a dim view of performers who abandon the style of their early hits) -- although both records certainly sold well by more reasonable (non-corporate) standards. Outside of music critics and a dedicated core of fans, the blues-based follow-up True Love (1991) was received with even less enthusiasm. The singer made a return to heavy rock with 1993's Gravity's Rainbow, but by this point mainstream tastes had moved elsewhere, and the next several years were spent raising her two young daughters away from public scrutiny.
In 1995 Benatar set out on her first substantial tour of the decade, packaged with fellow "classic rock" acts Fleetwood Mac and REO Speedwagon. Eventually a departure was made from her label Chrysalis (recently assimilated by monster conglomerate EMI), the next effort -- an acoustic collection titled Innamorata -- being issued through CMC International in 1997. That same year she embarked on another extensive tour (this time with CMC labelmates Styx), as well as participating in the first two dates of the Lilith Fair festival, which provided the singer with her first opportunity to share a bill with many younger female musicians inspired by her early career. Throughout the remainder of the decade and continuing into the 00's, Benatar and Giraldo maintained a consistent touring schedule, in addition to releasing various live recordings and a 3 disc retrospective (Synchronistic Wanderings, 1999). A return to studio work was finally made with 2003's Go, released on the Bel Chiasso label.
Husband: Dennis T. Benatar (m. 1972, div. 1979)
Husband: Neil Giraldo (musician, m. 20-Feb-1982, two daughters)
Daughter: Haley Egeana (musician, b. 16-Feb-1985)
Daughter: Hana Juliana (b. 12-Mar-1994)
High School: Lindenhurst High School, Long Island, NY (1971)
Grammy Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female (1980)
Grammy Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female (1981)
Grammy Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female (1982)
Grammy Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female (1983)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Union City (17-May-1980)
Author of books:
Between a Heart and a Rock Place (2010, memoir)
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