35 Years Later…

Neil Giraldo and Pat Benatar
Do you remember what you were doing in the year 1980? If you are close to my age, you were in high school preparing for college life. I have a few older friends who told me they had already started to live adult lives with a spouse and children. Of course, so many of you reading out there were not even born until several years later. Nevertheless, the music created during that year, and throughout the 1980’s continues to thrive, even for those who were not in existence at inception. One of the many standout stars of the era most definitely was Pat Benatar. During the 1980s, Benatar had two RIAA-certified Multi-Platinum albums, five RIAA-certified Platinum albums, three RIAA-certified Gold albums, 17 Billboard chartings and 15 of them being Top 40 singles. Today, her music is treasured by a large fan base that has grown with the years. Rock superstars Pat Benatar and husband Neil “Spyder” Giraldo are celebrating their latest musical milestone with the release of the CD/DVD set, Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo: The 35th Anniversary Tour. The 14-track commemorative package features their greatest and groundbreaking hits. The couple just stopped here in South Florida last week as part of their tour. Therefore it is appropriate we feature both Pat and Neil this week in the Weekly Music Commentary.
The beginning for Pat Benetar began like so many other popular singers in modern times. Patricia Mae Andrzejewski was born in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York City. She became interested in theater and began voice lessons at age eight, and participated in musical theater throughout her high school years. 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. In 1973, Benatar quit her job to pursue a singing career. Her big break in music came as 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.
Benatar’s debut album In the Heat of the Night was released in August 1979, and reached #12 in the US in early 1980. After eleven studio albums, nine live albums and thirty-three compilation albums, we arrive thirty-five years later with a new compilation live album: Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo: The 35th Anniversary Tour. The new album was released last month, April 28, 2015. I have been listening to the well-crafted album of live music and enjoyed it more than most live albums. Lead guitarist Giraldo has been a mainstay in Pat Benatar’s band from the very beginning. Pat divorced first husband Dennis Benetar in 1979, and she’s been married to her second husband Giraldo, since 1982 and they have two adult daughters.
Interestingly in the world of rock and roll (considered synonymous with sex and drugs), Pat Benetar and Neil Giraldo have been able to sustain a marriage and raise children successfully. Benetar stated that her long partnership with her husband is a result of respect and simply accepting that failure isn’t an option. “It’s kind of an incestuous relationship,” she told Parade of her marriage. “There isn’t any part of our lives that isn’t intertwined–so even when there’s a conflict, you just have to resolve it.” “It was a partnership from the very beginning,” Giraldo added. “We were just two missing pieces that found each other.”
Of course, striving to live with a marriage mate for over thirty years is not easy. All relationships have ups and downs and sometimes must survive near tragic circumstances. Maintaining a working relationship with a spouse can also be extremely difficult. You don’t see such relationships often, not to mention one that survives over thirty years. However, Giraldo and Benetar have done much better than merely survive, their partnership has worked well.
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. This is a factor that creates continuity in the overall sound in recordings and live performances. It also speaks volumes about the character of Pat Benetar. She must be easy to work with musically in order to maintain such consistent working relationships.
I am sure you will enjoy Giraldo and Benatar’s excellent live album. You can tell the two really put all of their collective musical talent and heart into every song. Their lead-off single from the live CD is “Promises in the Dark. It originally rocked airwaves in 1981 as part of the hit album, Precious Time, and was co-written by the iconic duo. “We are thrilled to be releasing this live version of “Promises in the Dark” from our 35th Anniversary Concert Tour. Promises has special meaning for us. It was the first song we wrote together, about our own relationship. A little awkward at first, to be sure! It has become one of our signature compositions and a favorite to play live,” Benatar and Giraldo explain.
Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo: The 35th Anniversary Tour CD/DVD Track Listing
Shadows of the Night
All Fired Up
We Live for Love
So Sincere
Sex as a Weapon
Promises in the Dark
We Belong
Hell is for Children
You Better Run
Hit Me with Your Best Shot
Love is a Battlefield
Let’s Stay Together


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