The man behind Queenstown-bound Benatar

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Rock ‘n’ roll comes easy to hard-charging Queenstown-bound guitarist Neil Giraldo. 

The musician and producer has been making music with wife and muse Pat Benatar for 34 years. 

And blasting out their soundtrack-to-the-1980s hits such as Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Love is a Battlefield on stage still sends his pulse racing. 

“I call it Jerry Lee Lewis blood,” Giraldo says. 

“Every time we go out there it’s like the first time. It’s so much fun. My life consists of recording, writing, arranging, making decisions and all those things, so when I’m out of the studio I can actually be ‘rock star’ – I can get up and play and have no fear, no doubt, be in the moment.” 

The four-time Grammy-winning duo, who were the second act and first rock ‘n’ roll band on MTV, have a back catalogue of 10 platinum-selling albums and 19 Top 40 US singles. 

Benatar and Giraldo will headline the Summer Concert Series at Gibbston this Saturday – a bill which also features giants Bachman & Turner and classic rock favourites America. Trailblazer Giraldo has written more than 100 songs – and not just for Benatar, who he married in 1982. 

The explosive guitarist also helped create hits such as Grammy-winning classic Jessie’s Girl with Rick Springfield.
“For me my mind never stops,” he says. 

“It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s terrible – it never shuts down from the moment I wake, even in my sleep, I can’t get a good night’s sleep, stuff is running through my head constantly. 

“I’m taking my daughter to school, I get a little melody in the my head, get back and get on the guitar, I play a melody, a few words, then I go to Patricia and say what do you think of this? 

“She usually says ‘Get outta here, I don’t want to hear it right now, it’s early, I’m drinking coffee’. 

“Then she’ll say ‘What was it again?’ and eventually she’ll listen to it and do something with it. It’s non-stop.” 

Summer Winery Series tickets at Gibbston Valley Winery are $95 plus booking. Under-12s free. Gates open 11am, Saturday, with The Fletcherz and Alpine Effect. America at 1pm, Bachman & Turner at 3pm, Benatar/Giraldo at 5pm