Pat Benatar was born Patricia Andrzejewski in Brooklyn on Jan. 10, 1953.
Her mother Mildred, a beautician, also sang in the chorus of the New York Opera Company. Her father was a sheet metal worker.
She became Pat Benatar while still a teenager. Although she was preparing for classical studies at the famed Juilliard School of Music, after graduation from Lindenhurst High School (L.I.) in 1971, she married her high school sweetheart, Army G.I. Dennis Benatar, and moved to Virginia, where he was stationed.
While supporting herself as a bank clerk and waitress at a Friendly’s restaurant in Richmond, Benatar began her career as a singing waitress in a “Roaring Twenties”-themed restaurant and performed in motel lounges. By the late 1970s, after returning to New York, she and Dennis divorced.
While appearing in cabarets on Long Island Benatar received a role in the off-Broadway science-fiction musical The Zinger. (Years later, in 1990, invited to perform on a tribute album for The Zinger’s composer, Harry Chapin, she performed a song from the show, “Shooting Star.”)
Meanwhile these jobs led to stints on the cabaret circuit in Manhattan. It was at this time that her performances gradually began to shift musically, taking a harder edge towards pop and rock ‘n’ roll.
Eventually she found her way over to open mic nights at the famous Manhattan club Catch a Rising Star, which showcased her obvious vocal talents.
Benatar’s career took off after she was signed to Chrysalis Records. She scored many hits, beginning with “In the Heat of the Night” (1979). Eventually she teamed up with Neil Geraldo, who was the guitar-playing leader of the band she sang with at Catch a Rising Star. She also married him.
Benatar has four Grammy awards and numerous platinum albums to her credit. Her hit songs include “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Love is a Battlefield,” “We Belong,” “Heartbreaker,” “Hell is for Children,” “Fire and Ice” and “Crimes of Passion.”
She continues to tour, having teamed up with Blondie in 2009 and REO Speedwagon in 2010.
In 2010 she also released her memoir, Between a Heart and a Rock Place.
This article was written by Vernon Parker (1923-2004)
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