Pat Benatar Talks Rock Hall Induction: ‘So Intense’

Pat Benatar Talks Rock Hall Induction: ‘So Intense’

The announcement about Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction was mere minutes old when the singer’s phone began “blowing up.”

“This day is so intense,” Benatar tells Billboard by phone from Los Angeles. “Your phone blows up, Facebook, all your social media blows up. I had to turn my phone on silent ’cause I couldn’t hear one more dinging of the text.”

Rest assured she’s not complaining, though.

Benatar’s absence from the Rock Hall has long been considered one of its greatest slights. She’s been eligible since 2000, but Benatar and Giraldo — her chief creative partner since 1979 and husband since 1982 — have only been nominated once before, in 2020. A classically trained mezzo-soprano, she helped make strides for women in rock with success that’s included five platinum-or-better albums, 15 Top 40 singles and four Grammy Awards.

Benatar and Giraldo will get their due on Nov. 5 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. It’s been a long time coming, but Benatar promises the two will be ready to rock when it’s time to accept their trophies…

Billboard: For a lot people, it’s about damn time this is happening. How have the two of you felt about it over the years?
Benatar: I don’t know. It’s great for it to finally happen, but it’s not really something you think about all the time. I think Linda Ronstadt had a quote, “If you’re doing this to win prizes, you’re in trouble.” So you’re not thinking about this kind of stuff when you’re making records and writing songs. If you think about what happened today, the work is being acknowledged but the work has been there for 43 years. It’s the same work, but it’s great to be acknowledged, and it’s fun for everybody.

Do you have a sense of how stoked people about it?
It’s been a fun day. I think the most fun for us is seeing how happy everybody is because they wanted so long. So that’s great to see — even the first DJ that ever played the song (“Heartbreaker”) in Portland, Ore., he’s happy today. Some record rep you haven’t spoken to for, like, 30 years texts you, “Omigod, I remember that day at the Agora Ballroom…” That kind of thing. We really get to share this, and they’re having a great time. It’s nice to be able to give them that.

I know it’s important that you’re being inducted as Pat and Neil, not just you.
To have done what we did, and to work side by side with my bandmate, who’s also my husband, for me that is a huge deal. It was really important. I’ve lobbied for the past 25 years to get him the credit he’s due. I’m sure we would’ve both had success separately, but together is what actually made it happen and turned it into what it became. There were many, many years when it was tossed around about going in (to the Rock Hall) or not going in. I was just kind of adamant about going in together, and it was pretty much a “no,” and so, “I guess I’m not going in, then,” and that was it. That’s how it was for a very long time, so I’m very, very pleased it’s going the way it is right now.

What kind of perspective does getting into the Rock Hall give you about your legacy and contribution to the music?
That has relevance in all kinds of ways, especially for other female musicians, the ones who came before me and the ones who come after. Any time another of us gets to go and do something amazing and be acknowledged for it, it just elevates everyone going forward and it elevates everyone behind as well. The people who came before us started to really tear down the walls, and we just continued it and refined it and embellished it. The rest is now up to everybody else to keep adding to the path. It’s a real collaboration of everyone who historically goes in front of you and then comes in after you.

Have you had a chance to think much about what will happen on Nov. 5?
(laughs) No, we haven’t. There are so many options, and we don’t even have all the information yet, like how many songs are we supposed to do? I can tell you it’s going to be a big 12 days for us. Our third granddaughter is due the last week of October, then we have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and then we have our first full tech rehearsals for our musical (Invincible), an adaptation of Romeo & Juliet with all of our songs (Nov. 10-12 at the Bourbon Room). So it’s going to be a pretty big 12 days for us.

Has Invincible been your primary focus, creatively?
It has because it’s a huge undertaking. We’ve been working on this for almost five years now, so it’s taking precedence for sure. Neil’s in there right now doing the orchestrations. We’ve written three or four new songs and we’re working on the book with the book writer, so it’s very busy. Writing is what we do the most, and we still go out every summer to play. There’s nothing in the works now as far as recording; there’s just a little bit too much on the plate to do that, too.

Are you enjoying the experience of a doing a stage musical?
It’s amazing. It is truly one of the most collaborative genres of art that you can do. The moving parts, the amount of people that are involved besides the book writer and you as the composer and Neil as the orchestrator. We have a music director and you have lead producers and co-producers and choreographers and set designers and costumers. It’s insane. It’s really a lot, but it’s a lot of fun and exciting and just a whole other thing.

Are we going to see you in it at all?
No, I won’t do that. I’m a producer and I am the composer and the dramaturge. But some time in the future…obviously I’m too old to be Juliet, but I could certainly be Lady Capulet. We wrote that part in case I ever need to step on for any reason.

Back to the Rock Hall, are you thinking about reaching out to any of the original band members to take part?
I think we will. There’s circumstances with some of the original members, they’re not well physically or whatever. But (drummer) Myron Grombacher, we’re family. We’re godparents to all his kids and they’re godparents to our kids. We’re together all the time, so I’m absolutely positive Myron will play. You’re honored and you’re grateful, and you’re hopeful this is just cool and fun and everyone has a good time with it.

Pat Benatar Talks Rock Hall Induction: ‘So Intense’ The announcement about Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction was mere minutes old when the singer’s phone began “blowing up.” “This day is so intense,” Benatar tells Billboard by phone from Los Angeles. “Your phone blows up, Facebook, all your social media…