How Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo Bonded Over Their First Song
Pat Benatar faced two main issues when given the song “Heartbreaker” to work on as part of her 1979 debut album In the Heat of the Night.
First, she had to rework original lyrics presented by songwriters Geoff Gill and Cliff Wade from a male character’s perspective.
“The first song that we basically had all ready was ‘Heartbreaker,’” Benatar told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show. “When I got it, it had kinda all these English colloquialisms, and I changed a bunch of lyrics so it would fit. But the gender of the thing – bending the gender and having a female sing it instead … it was exactly what I wanted.”
Benatar then struggled with finding the sound she knew she wanted for the music. The solution to the second issue helped form a partnership with guitarist and later husband Neil Giraldo that’s lasted for decades.
“I heard it in my head but I couldn’t get anybody to play what I was hearing,” Benatar recalled, “and the minute he walked in, he knew exactly what I was talking about. He played it exactly the way that I wanted it – and the whole thing was born from that.”
Released on Oct. 26, 1979, “Heartbreaker” would become Benatar's first hit single, reaching No. 23 after two previous releases failed to impact. She's since released more than a dozen albums on the way to induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.