With a stratospheric vocal range, fierce delivery and a suitcase stuffed with memorable songs, Pat Benatar has been a constant presence on radio in the decades following the summer release of 1979’s “In the Heat of the Night” album and its groundbreaking single “Heartbreaker.” The ’80s in particular belonged to her, with singles ranging from rocker “Treat Me Right” to anthem “Shadows of the Night” and ballad “We Belong.”
The singer’s first of several Grammy awards arrived for 1980’s multi-platinum seller “Crimes of Passion.” The album’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” was a Top 10 single that became Benatar’s signature song. The award wouldn’t be her last. From 1980 to 1983, Benatar won four consecutive Grammy awards for best female rock vocal performance. Her competition included revered performers Linda Ronstadt, Jefferson Airplane/Starship’s Grace Slick, Donna Summer and Stevie Nicks. Benatar came close to topping the list with five awards in the category, but was later a three-time runner-up to no less than rock and soul queen Tina Turner.
MTV was also a significant stronghold of support for Benatar, whose “You Better Run” was the second video ever shown on the network. The narrative video for 1983’s “Love is a Battlefield” was a landmark, featuring Benatar as a taxi dancer who leads a rebellion against a male oppressor. 1985’s “Invincible” offered a universal message of unity and empowerment.
Benatar’s most recent release is “Shine,” released in January to support the Women’s March, advocating for social reform and women’s rights. Her advocacy efforts are not new. Benatar toured in states with anti-LGBT laws in 2016, but donated proceeds from ticket sales to support repeal of the controversial edicts.
Benatar’s “Precious Time” album yielded singles “Fire and Ice” and the edgy “Promises in the Dark.”The latter was written by Benatar and lead guitarist Neil Giraldo. The pair have been married 35 years, but their musical partnership reaches back to Benatar’s debut. The two have co-written many other songs, including the rowdy, Grammy-nominated “Let’s Stay Together.” The song’s theme of commitment will be on display next Tuesday when the couple bring nearly four-decades of collaborative experience to the Arcada Theatre.
Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.