Between a Heart and a Rock Place: A Memoir by Pat Benatar & Patsi Bale Cox



1 The Little Andrzejewski Girl Who Could Sing

2 I Can Do That

3 An Image Problem

4 Rock and Roll’s Dirty Little Secret

5 Getting Married—Getting Nervous

6 Music Video Theater

7 It’s My Life

Photographic Insert

8 The Hard Way

9 Almost Out

10 All’s Fair in Rock and Music

11 In the Balance

12 My Way


About the Author



About the Publisher



I KNEW THE SOUND wasn’t right.

As I sat there, listening to the playback from my first-ever recording session, I knew that something was off. It wasn’t that the speakers were bad or the mics were low. It wasn’t that my voice sounded wrong or the drummer was off the beat. It was more subtle than all that, but also much worse—not something that could be fixed by a simple equipment change. The problem was that I sounded like Julie Andrews trying to sing rock.

Part of the issue was that the musicians whom the producers had hired were very precise players. Everything sounded perfect—so perfect it was bland. It wasn’t working. It wasn’t rock and roll. I knew it, the producers knew it, and the record company knew it. But still everyone kept shoving me in the same direction.

For my first record deal, I’d signed with a label called Chrysalis Records. I’d been knocking on doors in New York for a couple of years when Chrysalis offered me a deal. My manager, Rick Newman, was a comedy club owner with no music experience. He’d discovered me while I was performing at Catch a Rising Star, a club in New York, and he believed in me enough to take on management duties. Early on, what he lacked in music knowledge, he made up for in passion, and he’d been fantastic in presenting me to labels. His enthusiasm was infectious. But though he was my biggest cheerleader and the greatest guy, he had to rely heavily on our attorneys, business manager, and the record label for advice. Chrysalis had signed a chick singer, and a chick singer was what they expected me to remain. The result was the all-too-perfect sound of my first session.

I didn’t set out to be a solo artist. My dream was to be the singer in a rockin’ band, like Robert Plant was to Led Zeppelin or Lou Gramm to Foreigner. I wanted a partnership, like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had—an unrelenting back-and-forth between talented musicians. The sound I heard in my head was raucous, with hard-driving guitars speeding everything forward. I was a classically trained singer with a great deal of musical knowledge, but I had no idea how to make that visceral, intense sound happen. I had to evolve, but I didn’t know how to make that evolution happen. And apparently, my record label didn’t either.

It wouldn’t be enough just to have a backing band who could play it looser. Deep down I knew that I needed a partner, somebody who understood where I wanted to take my music. Somebody to help me get there and be an equal and integral part of the band, a partner in every step we took. Somebody whom I wouldn’t have to sit around and try desperately to explain my sound to, but who would just hear my voice and instinctively know. Make no mistake: I was looking for a music partner, not a boyfriend. I was separated from my first husband but still legally married. I’m far too traditional to have shrugged that detail off. The truth is, I didn’t want any man in my life right then, except for a musical partner.

For its part, Chrysalis had no interest in bringing some dude into the act, except as a backup musician. At first, I didn’t know how to react to the record executives, so I listened to them, and for a while, I followed along. I’m opinionated and strong, but not really confrontational. I don’t pick fights with people unless they’re necessary. When you’re young, you tend to let people run your show, especially when those people have been successfully running a lot of other people’s shows. But even as they kept pushing me to fall in line, I knew their way was wrong.

Thankfully, I trusted my instincts. That’s probably the single most important thing anyone can know: trust your gut. It’s especially important for young people because there are always going to be older folks hanging around explaining why they know best. I was young and inexperienced when I started out in music, and there were times I bought into the other people’s I know best routine. And when