Pat Benatar, Neil Giraldo take their best shot in Williamsport

Four-time Grammy Award-winning artist and 1980s rock icon Pat Benatar will bring her own unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll to the Community Arts Center in Williamsport. Benatar, along with her longtime lead guitarist and husband, Neil “Spyder” Giraldo, will hit the stage on Nov. 2.

Benatar gained fame starting in the early 1980s with rock classics such as her signature song, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.” Several more hits would follow throughout the decade, including “Treat Me Right,” “Fire and Ice,” “Shadows of the Night,” “Love is a Battlefield,” “We Belong” and “Invincible.” She was one of the first artists whose videos received heavy airplay in the early days of MTV, with her video for “You Better Run” being the second video ever broadcast on the network during its debut in August 1981.

Being in a rock ‘n’ roll band, Benatar and Giraldo certainly have an interesting combination of musical influences. Born and raised in Cleveland, Giraldo was into aggressive rock bands growing up, such as The Who, The Kinks and The Yardbirds. He got his first big break playing with guitarist-vocalist Rick Derringer in 1977 at age 22.

While her future husband was doing rock music, Benatar, 59, was cut off from the rock scene in Brooklyn. Growing up near Manhattan, Benatar studied classical music and music theater and was vocally trained as a coloratura soprano. The singer eventually was turned on to rock ‘n’ roll music and began playing in clubs in New York City. In time, she was noticed by representatives from several record companies and signed to a recording contract.

Benatar then met Giraldo, who became her lead guitarist, and they recorded their first album together, “In the Heat of the Night,” in 1979. Giraldo said Benatar’s first hit off the album, “Heartbreaker,” was one of the most memorable highlights of their careers.

“The highlight for me was going from a local musician to a professional level, and then also that first hit,” Giraldo said.. “For Patricia, it was hearing her first hit record on the radio.”

In 1980, Benatar scored big with her breakout album, “Crimes of Passion,” which is still her highest-selling album to date, going five times platinum. The success of the album also gave Benatar her first Grammy Award for best female rock vocal performance.

Giraldo, 56, has been with Benatar since the beginning and has provided the guitar-driven rock sound that has become her trademark, one that has produced some of the most iconic rock staples for Benatar’s fans for more than three decades. This musical combo has been successful due to the dedication that Benatar and Giraldo have shown to each other, not just in music but also in life. The couple married in February 1982 and together has achieved personal and professional success, a rarity in today’s entertainment world.

Besides being an outstanding guitarist, Giraldo also is an arranger, producer and songwriter and said he continues to conceptualize new ideas in his mind. He added that he likes to experiment with different styles of music and indicated there may be a new album in the future.

“I can tell you that I’m writing like crazy again,” Giraldo said. “I have a lot of great ideas going on, and there will be something soon. It will be very interesting and it will be different.”

After more than 30 years together in the music business, Benatar and Giraldo say they still enjoy recording and performing. Giraldo admitted the traveling can be grueling, but he said getting up on stage more than makes up for it.

“You never know what hotels you’re going to stay in. Riding in the buses, sometimes you get bounced around. The travel is really the most difficult part,” Giraldo said. “But as soon as you walk out on stage, all bets are off. It really lights you up, and even if you’ve had a bad day, it turns you around. It’s just a feeling that I can’t describe. I wish everybody could experience it.”

When asked if he and Benatar feel they have made a significant impact on music and culture, Giraldo spoke proudly of their accomplishments.

“I’m proud of the fact that Patricia and I were a partnership from the very beginning, respected each other, and, above all else, we were each other’s muse; and from there we still had a career,” Giraldo said.