Every so often there's an event here at the Pop Culture Institute that gets me as excited as Dick Cheney at a Halliburton shareholders' meeting; today it's the birthday of a woman whose incendiary voice and incandescent stage presence blazed a trail for women in music...
The 1970s was the era of cock rock: big hair, tight clothes, soaring falsettos... And those were the men! In the midst of it all - 1977 to be exact - came a diminutive Polish-Irish hybrid from Staten Island who showed everyone (regardless of chromosomes) how it was done.
In 1979 Pat Benatar's debut single Heartbreaker raced up the charts; that first album, In the Heat of the Night, also yielded the single We Live For Love. The hits continued: 1980's Crimes of Passion gave us Treat Me Right, You Better Run, Hell Is For Children, a cover of Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights, and a single so blazing it still has the power to wow: Hit Me with Your Best Shot.
Having not merely overcome her sophomore slump but kicked it to death, Benatar and her guitarist husband Neil Giraldo continued to churn out the hits; 1981's Precious Time featured Fire & Ice and Promises in the Dark, and 1982's Get Nervous Anxiety (Get Nervous), Looking For a Stranger, Little Too Late, as well as that year's ubiquitous Shadows of the Night.
In 1983 Benatar brought her live show to all those who couldn't get to it, with the album Live from Earth, which featured 2 studio tracks, including her masterwork Love is a Battlefield; that single also appeared in 1984's Tropico, along with We Belong.
By the time her seventh album in seven years - aptly entitled Seven the Hard Way - appeared it was time for Benatar to pull back. After promoting the singles Sex as A Weapon and Invincible (which was far more memorable than the movie it was written for, The Legend of Billie Jean) Benatar took three years off to rest and spend time with her young family.
Since then she's released five more albums, only one of which charted any singles - All Fired Up, from the 1989 compilation album Best Shots, was big in the UK - even as they charted new territory for her artistically. Currently she lives in a remote location on Maui, where she farms organically with her husband and two daughters, Haley and Hana.
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