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The ‘80s Never Die

Pat Benatar Joins Lita Ford at Stir’s
By Shout Omaha Staff

Singer Pat Benatar hopes to be selling leis and pineapples on the Hana Highway in Hawaii, and wearing a mummu one day. In fact, she can’t believe she isn’t right now.
“That’s what I’d really want to be doing,” Benatar said in an interview with Believer Magazine. “I have no idea, because I had no idea I would be doing this. At 50, I thought I would be done. I thought I’d be finished by now. So I have no idea. I just leave it.”
Eleven years later, Benatar is still rocking crowds alongside her husband and co-creative spirit Neil Giraldo. With her work ethic and energetic performances, it’s surprising the ‘80s pop star questions her legitimacy.
“When I started it still wasn’t okay to be this age and still make this kind of music,” she said. “And believe me, I consider our stuff to be much poppier than—we’re not on like cutting edge, that kind of thing anymore. And even though we’re not doing Britney Spears music or N-Sync, it’s still what I consider to be pop music. So that does give you a little bit more longevity, I guess. But if somebody told me I’d be getting up there and singing “Heartbreaker” at 61, I’d laugh.
“I figured I would have my kids and I would be married and—how long could this possibly last, popularity-wise,” she questioned. “I don’t know what the hell I thought I would be doing but I didn’t think it would be this. I’m surprised. I’m very happy. I feel grateful as shit that I still get to do it.”
Born in the Greenpoint, Brooklyn area of New York City, Benatar became interested in theater and began voice lessons, singing her first solo at age eight, at Daniel Street Elementary School, a song called “It Must Be Spring.” In 1973, 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. Over thirty years later, she still loves getting in front of a crowd and remains true to herself and the music that made her famous.
“It’s great fun, it is, because the audience is really diverse, I mean—it goes in these cycles, too, which, you know, you just have to relax and not worry about this shit,” she said. “It goes through cycles and not every record needs to be a hit record. It’s not meant to do that, and people’s careers go through cycles and if you want to be the last man standing, you have to be fierce and tenacious and you just have to stand there and you have to let it do its thing. If you try to force it, then it won’t go in the natural progression that it’s supposed to. If you just leave it alone it’s really interesting, because I got to tell you, it used to piss me off that people used to say that what we did was manufactured and things like that, because I swear that we always just let it flow. And I always leave it like that.
“And it really works because this way there’s no fabrication,” she added. “If you try to chase it, if you try to follow trends and anticipate what the next thing is going to be, you will fail.”
In 1982, Benatar married guitarist and producer Neil Giraldo, although their relationship began on a professional level in 1979. Benatar fell hard immediately.
“I went crazy,” she said. “I called up my girlfriend, I was living on like 81st Street and 1st Avenue, in this little apartment. And I was getting divorced and everyone was really happy. Because it was—he was a problem. And they didn’t want everything to get screwed up. We could see that it was happening, the record was made and it was going to happen. And I was excited—I had been married since I was nineteen. I was twenty-six, and I had spent all those years of my life in this marriage that wasn’t so great. And I was about to be famous. I was young, I was going to be single, that kind of thing. All my friends, my family, everybody was like, Oh, thank God. She’s going to go out and she’s just going to have a blast. He walks in to join the band, I called up my girlfriend, I go—[sigh] ‘I met the father of my children.’ She slams down the phone, comes over to my apartment, and says, ‘are you an idiot? What do I have to say? What is wrong with you?’ I go, ‘No, no, no, you don’t understand.’ She goes, ‘I do understand.’ She goes—and this is the best—she goes, ‘it’s 1979, you don’t have to marry him to sleep with him.’ But I knew. I was in love with him instantly. I was crazy for him.”
Benatar wrote Crimes of Passion in 1980, which contained the hit single, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.” The album earned Benatar her first Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. With her four-octave range voice, it was to be expected. Eleven more albums would follow and each contained huge chart-topping hits, including “We Belong” and “Love Is A Battlefield.” To this day, she’s still making music with Giraldo and touring the world. They are currently on their 35th Anniversary Tour, which makes a stop at Stir’s Concert Cove in Council Bluffs on Friday, August 15 with special guest, Lita Ford. While Benatar is still writing music, it’s a lot different.
“It’s really hard to make records and concentrate and have a free mind, because I have this whole other life,” she said. “If you don’t have kids it’s a whole other thing. I think you can be fifty and still have a rock and roll lifestyle; you can still perpetuate that. But when you have children in your life—this is my job and that’s my life. So it’s a totally different thing. They’re my priority, they have to be, and they always will be.”
Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo with Lita Ford, August 15, at Stir’s Concert Cove, Council Bluffs, 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $39. Visit www.harrahscouncilbluffs.com for more information.

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