Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo are among the most formidable power couples in rock history. Together, they created a sound that deeply impacted the sonic landscape of the 1980s.
Benatar, a classically-trained mezzo-soprano, quit her job in 1971 to pursue a singing career. She started out performing in lounges and nightclubs, using open mic and amateur nights to develop her persona and style. In 1979, she was introduced to Neil Giraldo, whose distinctive, distorted guitar playing complemented the clarity and strength of Benatar’s voice; the duo’s fire- power packed a punch that energized tracks like “Heartbreaker” and “Treat Me Right.” This hard-driving signature sound drove them to the top of the charts with hits like “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “We Belong,” and “Invincible.” Their achievements include two certified multi- platinum studio albums and ten gold and platinum releases. Benatar also dominated the Grammys in the 1980s, winning four consecutive awards beginning in 1980 and garnering a total of nine nominations.
When “You Better Run” aired as the second-ever video on MTV, Benatar became the first woman (and Giraldo the first guitarist) to appear on the channel. The band remained in heavy rotation on MTV, and cinematic videos like “Love Is a Battlefield” shaped how audiences envisioned rock music and bands led by women. “I was a serious, dedicated, formidably rockin’ lead singer who happened to be a girl. And that’s exactly how [Neil] saw it, too,” writes Benatar. “I wanted to make music, but I wanted to do it on my own terms.” Making music on their own terms meant that they wrote most of their own songs, insisting on imagery that felt authentic to them, with Giraldo frequently contributing his talents as a producer.
Benatar and Giraldo’s partnership is one of rock’s most long-lasting. They founded their own entertainment company, Bel Chiasso, and are still performing and creating to this day, highlighting that they truly are unstoppable.
Selected discography: “Heartbreaker,” In the Heat of the Night (1979) • “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Treat Me Right,” Crimes of Passion (1980) • “Fire and Ice,” Precious Time (1981) • “Shadows of the Night,” Get Nervous (1982) • “Love Is a Battlefield,” Live From Earth (1983) • “We Belong,” Tropico (1984) • “Invincible,” Seven the Hard Way (1985) • “All Fired Up,” Wide Awake in Dreamland (1988)
Nominees: Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo