Saluting Pat Benatar and Neil Geraldo

Back in the early ‘80s, after high school and prior to college, I had a summer job. Photocopying documents for a legal battle between the Newfoundland government and an oil refinery. The details are not relevant to this blog thought to this day I recall one of the participants was Homer White.

Homer likely left this world many years ago.

One of my fellow photocopiers was a fellow named Doug Banwell. He had a university degree in music and played his sax outside the Eaton Centre in Toronto for spare change.

I plugged in a cassette player and most of what I played did not impress Mister Serious Sax Man. He loved Sinatra and said all jazz musicians loved Old Blue Eyes.

And….

Not sure what Benatar tune played…Heartbreaker, Promises in the Dark…but when guitartist Neil Geraldo ripped into the solo Doug perked up. 

That guy can play, he said. And Doug had also slagged the Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar jam that makes up the back half of Free Bird. He, said Doug, is a bullshit guitarist.

I’m not qualified to provide an expert opinion. To this day, I enjoy every lick of that song.

When I heard Pat Benatar on Q107 in the early ‘80s, I was in my glory. A singer with a multi-octave range, belting out hard rock songs, from sweet ballads to rip roaring rockers well, that was rock and roll heaven.

Pat is one of the nominees for this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with the Dave Matthews Band, Depeche Mode, the Doobie Brothers, Judas Priest, Kraftwerk, MC5, Motorhead, Nine Inch Nails, the Notorious B.I.G., Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren, Soundgarden, T. Rex and Thin Lizzy.

I’m a hard rock fan so cheers Priest and Motorhead.

You are eligible for the HOF 25 years after your first recording, and Benatar’s debut album was released in 1979 so she should have been considered in 2004. She wasn’t.

Snobbery on the part of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner and his nominating committee? Yes. Too commercial, likely. If you are not the Stones, Dylan, Springsteen, U2 or REM,  you are not worthy of their praise. 

They anoint their heroes and if you loved Grand Funk Railroad, your taste sucks.

Benatar should have made it on talent alone but it was social media pressure that forced the HOF to nominate her and could lead to Pat’s induction. Did they really want to induct KISS, Cheap Trick and Rush? 

No, those bands aren’t cool.

Jagger, Dylan, Bono, Michael Stipe, Bruce, vocalist from a band Rolling Stone gave a five-star rating for their latest album (hey Apple, who is this U2 guy and why is he in my download folder?) and you have forgotten if you even cared back in the day…they mattered to RS. The bands that sold out arenas and topped the charts didn’t.

But…go on Youtube and and listen to Shadows of the Night.

In the early ‘80s female rock was Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks and the great Pat Benatar, with one of the most under appreciated axemen of his era, Pat’s husband and collaborator, Neil Geraldo.

Pat Benatar performs with her husband and guitarist Neil Giraldo at Pacific Amphitheatre at the Orange County Fair. Blondie and The Romantics also played. ///ADDITIONAL INFO: 02.benatarblondie.0727.pb 07/26/09 Paul Bersebach, The Orange County Register

He played exactly what the song needed, much like Ringo Starr’s unique fills and flourishes on so many Beatles classics.

Actually, Neil or anyone who knows him, that’s the ultimate compliment I can pay to Mr. Geraldo. You had a gift for enhancing the song and taking it to another level.

Cheers to one of my favorite musical combos…the soaring, operatic vocals of the one and only Pat Benatar, and the tasteful, melodic playing and virtuosity of Neil Thomas Geraldo.

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