It’s somewhat ironic that Benatar prefers to be inducted with her husband and musical partner, because her image, cultivated with strong and assertive hits like “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” and “Treat Me Right,” was that of a feminist.
Pat Benatar received their first nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last week and the members couldn’t be more delighted.
“Their”? “The members”? Let me explain. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame entry for Pat Benatar lists both Benatar and her husband and musical collaborator Neil Giraldo, almost as if Pat Benatar is a duo.
Benatar, 66, and Giraldo, 63, have been a team, both personally and professionally, for decades. Giraldo has played on every Benatar album since her 1979 debut In the Heat of the Night. He has produced or co-produced every Benatar album since her third release, 1981’s Precious Time (which was her only album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200). He wrote or co-wrote three of Benatar’s 15 top 40 hits on the Hot 100: “We Live for Love,” “Promises in the Dark” and “Ooh Ooh Song.”
Benatar and Giraldo married in 1982, when Benatar was at the pinnacle of her success. They have a joint website, BenatarGiraldo.com.
But to the public, Benatar has long been thought of as a female solo artist, one of the most successful of the 1980s. All nine of Benatar’s Grammy nominations were just for her — four consecutive wins for best rock vocal performance, female (1980-1983), four additional nominations in that category, and one nom for best pop vocal performance, female. Giraldo has yet to receive a Grammy nom.
In a 2017 interview with Billboard, Giraldo expressed skepticism about being included in a nomination for Benatar. “I don’t put a lot of faith in that for me, ’cause obviously nobody really knew what I did in this particular partnership. So I don’t really see that happening.” But he was adamant that his wife should get into the Rock Hall at some point. “Eventually it’s gotta happen. With everything she’s done, she’s got to be in there.”
Over the years, female artists have been inducted either solo or as part of groups. Joan Jett was inducted in 2015 alongside the other members of Joan Jett & The Blackhearts: Kenny Laguna, Gary Ryan, Lee Crystal and Ricky Byrd.
But Patti Smith was inducted in 2007 as a solo artist — rather than as a joint entry with musical collaborator Lenny Kaye, her guitarist from 1974-79 and again from 1996 to the present.
Something like Benatar’s listing as a duo has happened before. In 2011, Alice Cooper, like Benatar, usually thought of as a solo artist and personality, was inducted into the Hall. The Hall inducted the full band: Alice Cooper, Michael Owen Bruce, Glen Buxton, Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith.
It’s somewhat ironic that Benatar prefers to be inducted with her husband and musical partner, because her image in the ’80s, cultivated with strong and assertive hits like “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” and “Treat Me Right,” was that of a feminist. Of course, feminists are allowed to form personal and professional partnerships too.