Pat Benatar, Northeast Ohio native Neil Geraldo are still rocking (2024)

Rock ’n’ roll power couple Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo are still going strong.

After scoring 19 top-40 hits (including “Promises In The Dark,” “We Live For Love,” “Heartbreaker,” “Hell Is for Children,” “We Belong,” “Invincible,” “Love Is a Battlefield”) with record sales of more than 36 million albums worldwide, the Grammy Award-winning pair in 2022 finally was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

We recently caught up with Benatar and Northeast Ohio native Giraldo in separate interviews to talk about their early days, the show on July 10 at MGM Northfield Park Center Stage and just how long they plan on touring.

Q What are your early memories of touring through Cleveland?

Benatar: I am a Clevelander by marriage. I came into Cleveland early on with my boyfriend in 1979, and I fell in love with it. That was my second home for 45 years, so, yeah, pretty tight. And (former WMMS=FM 100.7 DJ) Kid Leo is one of our oldest friends. It was such fun times. We were at (legendary Cleveland hotel) Swingos for all of that great stuff in the old days and lots of fun. The audiences were amazing and still are. You just can’t beat a Cleveland audience, ever.

Giraldo: I have great memories. I mean, it was WMMS and (WNCR-FM 99.5). Leo became a really good friend. We were always talking, being our goofy Italian selves. But WMMS — to get on that radio station and do an interview after growing up and listening to it, that was such an honor.

Q Neil, being a kid from Parma, what was your first concert?

Giraldo: I had a mentor, my uncle, who was four years older than me. He lived with me and my sister (in Parma). He was also an instigator in the world of rock music, which was a blessing for me. So my first concert would have been The Who. I was 13 or 14 years old at Musicarnival (in 1968). It was the gig where Pete Townshend busted up all the amps before they finished the set. I think they only like five songs in and then they used the opening band’s equipment and finished the set. It changed my life, basically.

Q Do you still have family in the area?

Giraldo: I do, and they will be coming to the show. It’s mostly cousins. It’s always great to come back. I love seeing my family and friends. I really don’t get back that often other than touring now.

Q This year marks the 45th anniversary of your debut effort, “In The Heat of the Night.” How crazy is that?

Benatar: “Surreal” is the only word. It feels like it was five minutes ago. The idea that much time has passed. He was 23 years old; I was 26, and I’m about to be 72. You can’t wrap your head around this stuff.

Pat Benatar, Northeast Ohio native Neil Geraldo are still rocking (1)

Q Looking back at the late ’70s and early ’80s, success came quick. So much in fact that the Cameron Crowe-penned comedy film “Fast Times and Ridgemont High” made fun of high school students who “cultivated the Pat Benatar look.”

Benatar: Cameron called us up first and said, “I’ve got this part in the script. You going to be OK with that?” I said, “Yeah, man.” It was fun. It’s great to have a snapshot of the era and of what was happening at the time.

Q Speaking of dressing up like you, there are many Pat Benatar cover bands these days. What’s your take on the tribute-act scene?

Benatar: I’m happy they’re doing it. They’re a lot younger than me, so get out there and go. And then sometimes they wear those goofy outfits I wore. That’s good, too, because I’m never wearing those again. If people want to see them, they can go see (the tribute acts), and that’s really great.

Q Can you talk about the decision to bring out Youngstown-based band The Vindys on the road, including the upcoming MGM Northfield Park Center Stage gig?

Benatar: Oh, they’re so fabulous, They’ve opened for us a few times, sporadically. I love them, and I love (frontwoman Jackie Popovec). She’s amazing. Sometimes I’m worried about putting her on first. I’m like, “(Expletive) — that girl can sing her ass off.” But it helps me sing my ass off, so I’m good. But they’re great kids and wonderful. We just said, “We can pick anybody we want — let’s pick them.” We’re happy they’re with us.

Youngtown’s The Vindys playing Stocker Arts Center, touring with Pat Benatar

Q Neil, your Rock Hall-induction speech included a moment commenting on mental health issues and telling kids if they’re having issues or being bullied to “start playing an instrument and start dreaming.” Why was that message important?

Giraldo: It was important to me because every day I wake up and I can’t believe I had my dream come true. I was one of those children that had all these neuroses. I was sick, had agoraphobia — you name it. I couldn’t do anything. And I really truly believe that the next Hank Williams, the next Bob Dylan … these people are in their basem*nts. They’re afraid to come out. It was important for me to say that. It was the right platform. I wanted to make sure that message was put out because I am so thankful.

Q Finally, how long will Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo continue to tour?

Benatar: I don’t know. I thought we would be done by now, so it’s shocking that we’re going. We just did eight days of rehearsal. Everything sounds great, but I think the first time a teleprompter has to come out for me, that’s it. I’m hanging it up.

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo

Opener: The Vindys.

When: 7:30 p.m. July 10.

Where: MGM Northfield Park Center Stage, 10777 Northfield Road, Northfield.

Tickets: $82 to $155.

Info: Livenation.com.

Pat Benatar, Northeast Ohio native Neil Geraldo are still rocking (2024)
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