In Southern California, the proliferation of single artist tribute bands ensures that nostalgia is alive and well and that classic rock performers will never be forgotten. If four Grammys and 35 million albums sold wasn’t enough to convince Pat Benatar of her legendary status as the 80s premier arena rock diva, perhaps the success these past years of Heartbreaker, the Orange County based band created in her honor has done the trick. Led by Benatar junkie and lead singer Pam Edgar, Heartbreaker is one of the most popular groups on this circuit.
The former Patricia Andrzejewski (who married Dennis Benatar after graduating high school in Brooklyn) was trained as an opera singer but gained her first industry attention with a series of stellar showcases at New York’s Catch A Rising Star. An immediate hit upon signing to Chrysalis Records, Benatar’s Mike Chapman-produced 1979 debut In The Heat of the Night went platinum and spawned her trademark first hit, the aggressive “Heartbreaker.” 1980’s multi-platinum follow-up Crimes of Passion, spawned “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which became her first Billboard Top Ten single, as well as the socially conscious power anthem “Hell is For Children.”
These hits paved the way for an extraordinary Grammy winning run in the early 80’s. From 1980 -'83, she captured an unprecedented four straight Grammys in the category of Best Rock Vocal Performance-Female, including kudos for the hit singles "Fire and Ice" ('81), "Shadows of the Night" ('82), and "Love Is A Battlefield" ('83). With the video for the latter, she emerged as one of the leading stars of the early MTV generation. The Top Five hit was one of the two studio tracks included on the otherwise live album Live From Earth. “We Belong” from the follow-up album Tropico, also hit #4 in the U.S. In 1982 Benatar married producer Neil Geraldo, who played guitar in her band and wrote most of her material.
In 1985, "Invincible", from the otherwise forgettable movie The Legend Of Billie Jean, was Benatar's last U.S. Top 10 single of the decade. Her career hit a snag over the next few years, and she took time away to focus on raising Haley, her and Giraldo’s daughter. While subsequent albums Wide Awake In Dreamland ('88), Best Shots ('89) and 1991’s True Love (a critically-acclaimed but poor selling blues album which included a cover of B.B. King's "Payin' The Cost To Be The Boss") failed to recapture the massive sales of her heyday, she toured regularly until 1993, when she gave birth to a second daughter, Hana. During this period, Benatar was an active participant in numerous charity and fund-raising events, including recording a version of "Please Come Home For Christmas" in 1990 especially for the Desert Storm coalition troops who served in the Mideast during the Gulf War.
Benatar’s tour in the summer of '95 with REO Speedwagon and Fleetwood Mac proved to the masses once again that she still remains one of rock's premiere female vocalists. Stellar reviews inspired her to tour later with the Steve Miller Band and Styx. She continued to do some acting, appearing in the ABC Afterschool Special Torn Between Two Fathers and on various sitcoms.
In 2003, Benatar returned from a long recording hiatus with her Vanguard release Go, her first since 1997’s Innamorata, which was followed by an extensive tour.