Do Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, one of the most successful husband-wife tandems in the music business, ever truly slow down?
Their latest tour is proof that no, they don’t. “We usually go out every summer,” Giraldo tells Billboard. “Our agent is always trying to put together a package for us that makes sense. They brought up Journey, and we haven’t played with them for about thirty-something years. We love them, as well as Loverboy, so it should be great,” he says of the tour, which starts July 21 in San Bernadino.
Giraldo — who has written, arranged, and co-produced many of the singer’s biggest works — says that the fact that their shows have become a melting pot for all ages is very rewarding. “Absolutely. The best part about being around for so long is having the amount of songs, and the different transitions and styles that we’ve done from the very beginning. Our fans come with their children, and then their children. It’s great to have that amount of content.”
How does the couple — married and working together for over thirty years, keep it together, and not pull out each other’s hair? Giraldo laughs and says, “We usually do that anyway,” then turns serious. “We have a saying. I say ‘She’s always right.’ What I mean by that is that I’m not a confrontational person. I like things to go as smoothly as they possibly can. She likes that, as well. The way things work is that our personal life — she’s in control of that. She enables me to drift off and be this crazy writer and maniac. That’s why it works. We don’t look for battles, and things to get mad at.”
The couple is currently working on a pair of projects — one of which is a novel concept. Giraldo has found several songs that he started, but never finished. He hasn’t forgotten that original emotion.
“The weird part is that as soon as I hear it, it takes me right back to that moment. I will try to finish it in context. But, since it’s a new day, I can’t completely make it sound like it did back then. But, from the lyrical element, and also the melody, it will stay during that period of time. I won’t try to stylize it where it sounds exactly like it was then, but it will sound unmistakably like it was written during that period of time. I won’t be able to change that.”
They’re also in the process of another collaboration — a vitamin company. “That started because I abused my body so much when I was younger: drinking, smoking, and doing stupid stuff I should have never done,” Giraldo admits. “I didn’t eat right, sleep right, just all these horrible things. When I turned 30, which I didn’t expect to make it that far, I thought maybe I should take care of myself so I can watch my children grow up.”
He then says he “went crazy” and started exercising, eating better and experimenting with vitamins.
I had people say to me ‘You’re taking all these vitamins and things for people, why don’t you formulate something for yourself? That’s all they had to say. I started to think ‘Formulate. Hmmm…That’s kind of writing songs, just with herbs.’ I loved the challenge, and what happened was I — with the help of some people, came up with a formula that supported acid reflux and digestion, which had always been bad in my family. The product works, and in twenty minutes, you feel better.”
Giraldo — via his performance in Benatar’s 1981 video clip for “You Better Run” — became the first actual guitarist shown on MTV. How does that bit if trivia make him feel?
“The funny part about history is that when you’re in it, you don’t realize you’re thinking about it. It kind of happens afterwards. I didn’t realize it until about ten years ago when someone asked me ‘Do you realize that you were the first guitar player on MTV?’ I said ‘What are you talking about?, and they said ‘The first band didn’t have a guitar player. I never realized that. Other than making me feel old, that was kind of cool.”