It was BACK in high school when I first heard Pat Benatar’s music. I was a young metalhead only interested in the hard rock of the time, which was all exclusively male-dominated. It was on the radio that I first heard “Heartbreaker” from Pat’s debut album, 1979’s “In the Heat of the Night.” I was immediately drawn to the song’s pounding drums, ripping guitar riff and amazingly powerful female vocal. I was instantly hooked.
Two years later, this new cable channel called MTV was born. I would often make a trip to a friend’s house to watch it, and on came Pat, rocking hard, strutting around the stage, and belting out the song with incredible force and conviction. Pat became an MTV staple, as well as a rock-radio regular.
Joining Pat for pretty much the entire ride has been Neil Giraldo, her musical partner since 1979 and her husband since 1982. It makes sense that the pair are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame together, as I’ve always felt that Neil was Pat’s secret weapon. Although not initially billed as a duo, anyone could see that Neil was her right-hand man as a writer, producer, guitar player and performer. Put simply, he’s a badass. And the fact that their personal relationship has stood the test of time — in the music industry, no less! — is astonishing!
Each year on my SiriusXM Volume show, “Trunk Nation,” I air a special Top Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Snubs show. For years Pat has been on my list. It blew my mind that an artist with this level of influence on music, performance, fashion, hair style and more was overlooked for decades. Pat is a trailblazer and massive inspiration and influence for so many women who are rock artists now. Just look at Halestorm — who covered Pat’s “Hell Is for Children,” by the way. Pat sent a message to the industry, as well as guys out there like me, that you didn’t have to be a man to rock.
I am thrilled that, as of Nov. 5, Pat can come off my snubs list. She is an extremely important artist in rock history. Quite frankly, I think it’s criminal it’s taken this long.
Eddie Trunk can be heard on SiriusXM Faction Talk.
This essay is part of a series — in partnership with the on-air talent of SiriusXM — to pay tribute to the performers being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Nov. 5 in Los Angeles. Catch the complete Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2022 Induction Ceremony on HBO Nov. 19, at 8 p.m. ET, along with a simulcast on SiriusXM’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Radio (channel 310). SiriusXM listeners can also catch live, backstage coverage and commentary on Volume on the SXM app and on Faction Talk (channel 103).
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