DAVID J. SPATZ, For the Courier-Post 2:52 p.m. EDT October 13, 2015
All good things don’t necessarily have to come to an end.
That’s the way classic rock’s power couple seemed to view things when Pat Benatar and her husband, guitarist, songwriter and muse, Neil “Spyder” Giraldo, celebrated their 35th anniversary as musical partners (and their 33rd year as husband and wife).
They made a TV special that focused on the highlights of their partnership that began in the late 1970s, when Giraldo — a guitarist and pianist in Rick Derringer’s band — was introduced to the classically and theatrically trained Benatar, who was trying to make the transition into the topsy-turvy world of rock music.
The subsequent tour that followed the special was so well-received by sell-out crowds around the world that they decided to continue it this year. But the tour was cut short this summer when Giraldo underwent emergency eye surgery. That forced them to cancel their remaining tour dates.
“Spyder’s eye injury was unexpected and terrifying,” Benatar said in a statement in August. “Thanking God and the Universe that he was able to have surgery immediately and save his eye.”
The surgery left Giraldo with a patch over his left eye. It also precluded any flying or physical exertion that would place any kind of a strain on his eye. And since it isn’t easy to tour without flying or play a show without complicating the healing process, the couple canceled all of their shows through the first week in September.
But Giraldo has recovered from the surgery and has been cleared to return to the stage, which means Benatar and Giraldo will be keeping their date tonight at Harrah’s Resort with a show titled “A Very Intimate Acoustic Evening with Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo.”
Benatar has been perceived as a solo artist ever since her 1979 debut album, “In the Heat of the Night,” which spun off her breakout hit “Heartbreaker” along with other hits like “I Need a Lover,” “Rated X” and “We Live for Love.”
But the reality, the 62-year-old Benatar said, is that they’ve functioned as a duo from the very beginning; she sang, and Giraldo wrote, arranged, produced and played guitar on virtually every music project she’s been involved with since the couple met.
Giraldo, 59, was looking to broaden his musical horizons as a producer and composer when he was introduced to Benatar by producer and songwriter Mike Chapman.
He realized immediately that Benatar had the vocal chops. The problem was she was too good of a singer for rock ‘n' roll. Her voice was too clear and pristine.
“We’ve got to rough (her voice) up somehow,” Giraldo first thought after he heard Benatar sing.
As it turned out, Benatar was on the same page. She just didn’t know how to communicate that to her new friend.
“That was what she was looking for but she couldn't explain that,” he said.
But once they realized they both had the same thoughts and goals, working together became much easier.
Happily free of the scandals that make juicy fodder for supermarket and TV tabloids — no affairs, no brushes with the law, just a happy couple raising two daughters — Benatar has always seen her partnership with Giraldo as a duet.
Sure, she got top billing — Giraldo’s name wasn’t added to the marquee until about 10 years ago — but in her mind, they were equal partners in the business of music and marriage.
Early in their marriage, Benatar’s record label fretted about her contrasting images as a rock star and a wife and mother.
“It was kind of left over from that old Hollywood weirdness when the movies didn't want people to know that people were married to each other and things like that,” Benatar said. “It was shocking (because it) was so late in the game. I mean, we had our first daughter in 1985. It's shocking to me that this was still going on.”
So what’s their secret to maintaining to long and happy marriage for 33 years when many show business marriages don’t last 33 months?
“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,” Giraldo told Billboard magazine in 2013. “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.”