For years after debuting in 1979 with the Top 20 album In the Heat of the Night, Pat Benatar got most of the credit for the work she did with husband Neil Giraldo and their band. That changed after Benatar got tired of Giraldo getting very little of the spotlight after all, he wrote and produced many of her hits in addition to playing guitar in the band.
Ten or 15 years ago (when the band was no longer in heavy rotation on MTV) people would come backstage and talk to the wife and ask, How do you come up with those guitar parts? They had no idea she wasnt playing guitar, says Giraldo.
So Benatar made the change.
I dont really care. She likes it, he shrugs.
The couple, now billed as Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, will perform with an intimate full band Tuesday at McGlohon Theater. Giraldo has been a key part of Benatars band since the beginning. A good-looking guy who was dating Hollywood actress Linda Blair when they met, Giraldo was featured prominently in videos for Little Too Late and Shadows of the Night much to his chagrin.
I didnt want peoples perception of the song dictated by visuals that had nothing to do with the song, he says. Patricia is a beautiful girl and is beautiful on camera, and it was beneficial for us. But all the time, I kept saying, You dont need me to be in there. I hated them.
The couples relationship has always been tied to the band.
When we were introduced to one another, she said, I want to put an aggressive band together. I want someone that can help me write and arrange, because she doesnt play an instrument. I said, Ive been searching for a great singer my whole life. We were each others muse, says Giraldo, 57. (Benatar turned 60 Jan. 10. They celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in 2012.)
Working and raising two daughters now 19 and 28 raised the stakes to make the marriage work.
Were an integral part of one another. If we were to split apart, we wouldnt sound the same. We need each other on a professional level. So we work on the rest of it, he says.
That also means working independently. Giraldo, who has scored films, is working on a Christmas record as well as a project with his wife. He prefers the freedom of a post-Internet, post-record label world to the corporate machine responsible for churning out all those hits.
When I made records like Love Is a Battlefield and We Belong the record company always gave me grief. They thought it was too fast or too slow, the vocals should be louder. I had to fight to keep them the way it was, because I believed it was the best way they could be, he says. Today nobodys going to say anything about it.
Or rush them. Their last studio album was released nearly a decade ago.
Our old contract was we had to make a record every seven to nine months. Lots of times, I had songs go on records that I was like Whoa. Wait. Theyre not he recalls.
The result were some releases he wasnt that proud of. (In contrast, Hell Is for Children and Somebodys Baby remain personal favorites).
Ive written some bad songs and made some bad records. I look at it like a baseball player. Every time you go to bat, you want to hit a home run. That doesnt always happen. You cant write Let It Be every time you sit down to a piano.