You’re born with the name Patricia Mae Andrzejewski. Your mom is a beautician and your dad works with sheet metal. You pursue health education at State University of New York at Stony Brook. After graduation, you make ends meet as a bank teller in Richmond, Virginia while your Army-serving husband is stationed in Fort Lee. You watch Liza Minnelli perform in town and are inspired to quit your job and pursue a music career. You’re a woman.
This is a reminder that Pat Benatar’s life does not hinge on an entry into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. She already overcame mind-boggling odds the first day she walked into a professional recording studio. But if anybody is worthy of a vote into the 2020 Class, it’s her.
Go ahead, give me a reason why she doesn’t deserve it. Because she’s not influential enough? Please. As a solo female rock-pop act that dared to start her career in the late 1970s, she was sexy yet powerful, glamorous yet vulnerable. That’s only the blueprint for every female artist featured on a Millennial’s Spotify playlist right now. And, mind you, Benatar accomplished this feat in an era when the industry was loaded with dude rockers growing out their hair and doing blow and trying to churn out as much material as possible using sex as a metaphor in the lyrics. Madonna herself was still clubbing inside Danceteria when Benatar’s “You Better Run” video premiered on MTV on Aug. 1, 1981. It was sandwiched between The Buggles’ iconic “Video Killed the Radio Star” and Rod Stewart’s “She Won’t Dance with Me” during the network’s opening moments of existence. That’s not a fun pop-culture footnote; that’s a damn badge of honor.