Women that Rock – Pat Benetar – Heartbreaker

Pat Benatar‘s polished mainstream pop/rock made her one of the more popular female vocalists of the early ’80s. Although she came on like an arena rocker with her power chords, tough sexuality, and powerful vocals, her music was straight pop/rock underneath all the bluster. Born Patricia Andrzejewski on January 10, 1953, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the singer was raised in the nearby town of Lindenhurst on Long Island, New York. Benatar began singing regularly in the New York City area in the ’70s, where she was discovered at the Catch a Rising Star club and signed by Chrysalis Records. A stellar band led by guitarist Neil Geraldo (who the singer would later marry), provided the perfect accompaniment that was able to effortlessly alternate between rockers and ballads. Benatar quickly established herself as one of rock’s top vocalists, scoring a hit right off the bat with her debut album, 1979’s In the Heat of the Night, which spawned such radio favorites as “Heartbreaker” and “I Need a Lover” (the latter of which was written by a then unknown John Mellencamp).

Benatar‘s sophomore effort, 1980’s Crimes of Passion, more than delivered on the debut’s promise and it’s often considered to be the finest recording of her career. Spurred on by such classic rock radio standards as “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” “Treat Me Right,” and “You Better Run,” the album was certified platinum shortly after its release and Benatar became a certified arena headliner in the U.S. She also became one of the most-played artists during MTV’s early days, received several Grammy Awards around this time, and continued to enjoy massive hits and sold-out tours throughout the early and mid-’80s. She released such albums as 1981’s Precious Time, 1982’s Get Nervous, 1983’s Live from Earth, 1984’s Tropico, 1985’s Seven the Hard Way, and 1988’s Wide Awake in Dreamland, plus the singles “Fire & Ice,” “Promises in the Dark,” “Shadows of the Night,” “Love Is a Battlefield,” “We Belong,” and “Invincible.” But by the end of the decade, it appeared that Benatar had fallen of the face of the Earth as the hits seemed to dry up.

Benatar opted to shift musical gears and issue an album of blues and R&B, 1991’s True Love, which failed to return the singer to the top of the charts. She returned to her patented arena rock sound with such further studio releases as 1993’s Gravity’s Rainbow and 1997’s Innamorata (although the latter was largely acoustic-based), and while the albums didn’t exactly measure up to her earlier releases, both were solid efforts. The late ’90s saw a pair of live archival releases hit record store shelves, 1998’s 8-15-80 and 1999’s The King Biscuit Flower Hour Live, in addition to countless hits collections (although the best of the bunch proved to be 1989’s Best Shots, which remains a steady seller). The singer began touring again in the middle of the decade (after taking a five-year hiatus from the road), co-headlining shows with REO Speedwagon, Fleetwood Mac, the Steve Miller Band, and Styx. She also continued to dabble in acting, appearing in the ABC Afterschool Special Torn Between Two Fathers and on various sitcoms. In August 2003, Benatar returned to recording with Go (Vanguard), her first studio LP since 1997’s Innamorata. The LP revisited the arena rock/MOR sound that had defined Benatar‘s career, and was accompanied by an extensive tour.

Benatar‘s next big project was the 2010 publication of her memoir, Between a Heart and a Rock Place. Following that, she and Neil Giraldo regularly toured, including a 35th Anniversary blow-out that began in 2014 and ran into 2015, a year that also saw a commemorative live CD/DVD release of the tour. https://www.allmusic.com/artist/pat-benatar-mn0000158309/biography

1953–1978: Early life and career

Pat Benatar was born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski on January 10, 1953 in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York City.[2] Her mother, Mildred (née Knapp) (1928–2016), was a beautician, and her father, Andrew Andrzejewski (in the Polish language: Andrzej Andrzejewski) (1926–2009), was a sheet-metal worker.[3] Her father was of Polish descent and her mother was of GermanEnglish, and Irish ancestry.[4] Her family moved to North Hamilton Avenue in Lindenhurst, New York, a village in the Long Island town of Babylon.[5]

Benatar 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”.[citation needed] At Lindenhurst Senior High School (1967–1971), 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.[citation needed]

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

Benatar trained as a coloratura with plans to attend the Juilliard School, but decided instead to pursue 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 he was stationed for three years; Pat Benatar worked as a bank teller near Richmond, Virginia.[6][7]

In 1971, Benatar quit her job 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 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 was the subject of a never-aired PBS special; its bassist Roger Capps was later the original bass player for the Pat Benatar Band. The period also yielded Benatar’s first and only single until her eventual 1979 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.[clarification needed]

In 1975, Benatar performed 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.[citation needed]

The couple moved to New York following Dennis Benatar’s discharge from the army, and Pat Benatar became a regular member at Catch a Rising Star for the next three years. In 1975 she landed the part of Zephyr in Harry Chapin‘s futuristic rock musical, The Zinger, which ran for a month in 1976 at the Performing Arts Foundation’s (PAF) Playhouse in Huntington StationLong Island.

Halloween 1977 proved a pivotal night in Benatar’s early, spandexed stage persona. She entered a Halloween contest at the Cafe Figaro in Greenwich Village dressed as a character from the film Cat-Women of the Moon. Later that evening, she went onstage at Catch a Rising Star still in costume.[8] Between appearances at Catch a Rising Star, she recorded commercial jingles for Pepsi Cola and a number of regional brands. She headlined New York City’s Tramps nightclub for four days in the spring of 1978, where her performance was heard by representatives from several record companies. She was signed to Chrysalis Records by co-founder Terry Ellis the following week.[9] Pat Benatar and Dennis Benatar divorced shortly after, but she kept his surname. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Benatar


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