Let’s go back in time . . . With the exception of Courtney Love and Shirley Manson, the last 20 years has produced minimal, if any, true female rockers (Alanis only did it on one song, and Love, well, where the hell did she go? Ah . . . rehab!). But in the 1980s, a few tough cookies caught the Janis Joplin female empowerment wave and made it their own. Rockers Lita Ford, Joan Jett and Suzi Quatro tore up the stage, but the petite, Brooklyn-born Pat Benatar owned it.
Cracking the top 20 in 1980 with her first album In the Heat of the Night, Benatar not only established herself with the hit “Heartbreaker” but also bested John Mellencamp’s “I Need a Lover”—arguably the best rendition of that song ever recorded. Follow-up LPs Crimes of Passion (with the incredible Kate Bush cover “Wuthering Heights”) and Precious Time (which went to number one) were laden with hit singles and cemented Benatar as the rock chick of the decade. And chick she was. With the advent of MTV came a new way of ogling singers, and Benatar’s supermodel features and sexy black tights helped propel her into the midnight dreams of fans all over the country. While Benatar’s softer hits such as “We Belong” and “Love is a Battlefield” appealed to mass audiences, critics and fans often cited her penchant for issue-oriented tales about war and child abuse, such as “Hell is for Children” and “Too Long a Soldier,” which showed her depth and commitment to song-crafting.
With her lifelong lead guitarist/husband Neil “Spyder” Geraldo, Benatar and gang have consistently toured for over a decade, and although they haven’t released a new album since 2003’s Go, word is that the end of this year holds some promising news for fans. (Stacy Davies)
Pat Benatar and Neil Geraldo at Lewis Family Playhouse, Victoria Gardens Cultural Center, 12505 Cultural Center Dr., Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 477-2752; www.lewisfamilyplayhouse.com. Saturday, September 6, 8PM, $86.50