he news of PAT BENATAR being snubbed by the ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. The four-time GRAMMY winning rock coloratura has been eligible for consideration since 2004, twenty five years after the release of her debut album - the platinum certified IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT which boasted the woman's signature headbanging anthem HEARTBREAKER. That was only the beginning of the gamine rocker's influence over the charts, the airwaves and pop culture. She was the first female artist on MTV and armed with a four-octave range, she stuck it to the rock n roll boy's club with a sound that was forceful and feminine. Evidence of her influence on the firmament of hard rock is felt today with such standards as HEARTBREAKER, HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT, HELL IS FOR CHILDREN, FIRE AND ICE, LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD and WE BELONG still permeating the airwaves through classic rock radio. Perhaps none of this means anything to an organization that is all about serving as a pantheon for achievements in rock n roll. Fan support for BENATAR's induction came through loud and clear in the HALL OF FAME's much publicized fan ballot where BENATAR came in second place, curiously following DAVE MATTHEWS BAND with 882,207 votes. However, the fan ballot was only worth one industry vote - one vote out of over a thousand voting members.
Given the ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME's historic non-transparency when it comes to voting, one has to wonder if politics have come into play. The hall of fame was founded by ROLLING STONE founder JAN WENNER whose publication was never the most supportive critically of BENATAR's musical output and with the induction of some decidedly non-rock n roll entrants in the 2020 class such as rapper BIGGIE SMALLS and WHITNEY HOUSTON, we wonder if our hunch about the clandestine workings of the hall of fame may in fact be true. This racket doesn't deserve the name rock n roll, but the hall of fame and its board of directors know the value of their brand and are probably laughing at all of us peasants for pitching a fit.
On social media, fans have expressed their anger over the snub but one fellow has been especially passionate as you'll see from the FACEBOOK past below:
Why such passion?
The fellow's name is ROGER CAPPS and for ten years, he laid down one mean four string in support of BENATAR and her band. This guy goes all the way back that woman's cabaret singing days as part of the jazz quartet COXON'S ARMY in Richmond, Virginia. When BENATAR was getting too big for RICHMOND she moved to New York City to pursue that often times elusive rock n roll dream, and invited CAPPS with her to help develop a sound that was going to capture the ears of a record company and get this woman's career to the next level. CAPPS and BENATAR developed an electrifying night club act at the comedy club CATCH A RISING STAR and caught the ears of the big boys at CHRYSALIS RECORDS. Before anyone could blink, BENATAR was signed and the woman's rock n roll vision came to fruition thanks to NEIL GIRALDO - a young hot shot guitar player fresh off of a recording and touring gig with RICK DERRINGER. As the bass player in BENATAR's band, CAPPS traveled the world, co-wrote such tracks as HELL IS FOR CHILDREN and played on all of BENATAR's platinum albums IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1979), CRIMES OF PASSION (1980), PRECIOUS TIME (1981), GET NERVOUS (1982), LIVE FROM EARTH (1983) and TROPICO (1984).
"Just a few minutes before you called, I shared what I posted on their website. I found me a nice icon for poop," laughed CAPPS as we began our conversation on his thoughts on BENATAR's snub by JAN WENNER's boy's club. "The HALL OF FAME is a bunch of good ol' boys and I'm pretty sure they make they're living by taking bribes. How long did it take BLACK SABBATH to get on. A lot of my friends have pointed out that WHITNEY HOUSTON and BIGGIE whoever got on and they're not even rock n roll so I really don't give them any credibility at all. They just happened to purchase the proper name. It's not the "ROCK N ROLL" HALL OF FAME. I don't know what that is."
On a personal level, I've never taken the ROCK N ROLL HALL OF FAME to heart. Rock music is all about shaking things up and not about being a governing body. From where I stand rock n roll doesn't need a hall of fame. Let the pop stars have it. BENATAR's career was all about defying the boy's club so by not getting into the very boy's club that put obstacle after obstacle in her way, isn't the snub a form of vindication? Does CAPPS see it that way?
"I do but I did take time flame them a little bit," laughs CAPPS boyishly over his social media antics. "I think it's rude for them to set themselves up as what they set themselves up as and not do the right thing. To me that's ridiculous. She is one of the biggest rock stars there is."
***t was BENATAR's celebratory brand of hard rock with a pop finish that set her apart from everyone else that was out there. She gave us an earful and something to bang our heads to with her breakthrough single HEARTBREAKER from her 1979, largely MIKE CHAPMAN produced, debut album IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT. Even with considerable help from BLONDIE's producer, BENATAR - the vocalist - elevated the cabaret material of her debut album and stood apart from the guttersnipe sexiness of DEBORAH HARRY, the tough and tender posturing of CHRISSIE HYNDE and the ethereal rootsiness of STEVIE NICKS.
1979 was BENATAR's break through year, but her professional beginnings go back fives years earlier when the music wasn't marked by rock anthems, but by piano-led jazz standards, the attire was evening gowns as opposed to spandex and the hair was a mousey bob reminiscent of MARY RICHARDS from THE MARY TYLER MOORE show and not a punk-ish pixie cut. This was where bassist ROGER CAPPS first became acquainted with Mrs. DENNIS BENATAR nee ANDREZJEWSKI.
"I started with her in 1974," recalls CAPPS "We were in Richmond, Virginia and she was doing stuff like GREEN DOLPHIN STREET and a lot of tearjerker songs. She sang beautifully and I loved her like a sister. I was good friend with her and her then-husband DENNIS BENATAR. We got along famously and we did an album. We were in a band called COXON's ARMY. We did a 45 and we did an album and then she saw LIZA MINELLI in concert and got inspired to want to move to New York and really make things happen. Six months later I followed her up to New York City and we started working and we did a lot of duets with me on bass and her singing and we started playing at CATCH A RISING STAR. As a going away present my friends in Virginia gave me a double necked Danelectro guitar. So I came up with this reggae version of STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN and when and I performed it, she just sang the hell out of it. One night, our good friend DOANE PERRY (before he began playing drums for JETHRO TULL) brought in his friend from CHRYSALIS RECORDS. When they heard PAT singing this reggae version of STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN, they started the process of getting her signed to CHRYSALIS RECORDS. I was with her from '74 to '84 and I had the best time ever you can't imagine how much fun we had."
One could only imagine what his first impression was of this young soprano.
"The first time I heard her was at this jam session. I thought she was very nice. A little flat but nice and gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. We just hit it off as friends right away. We were like brother and sister immediately and that is the way it stayed for the next ten years. She was from Long Island and she was taking opera lessons at the time. I met her teacher JOANNA SPIERS who was this wonderful, terrifying little lady. She certainly gave PATTI the tools to protect her voice. I tested her one day at CATCH A RISING STAR on the piano. We did about eight and a half usable octaves and nobody has that. I think she still has about eight octaves."
There is a million miles distance between doing jazz standards and rock n roll. The distance is so great that a move to New York City seemed less daunting. Once BENATAR has settled in the Big Apple wih CAPPS following suit a few months later, they both fond a musical home away from home - curiously - at the legendary comedy club CATCH A RISING STAR. It is also, according to CAPPS, where BENATAR was first enticed into a more rock n roll approach.
"I support whoever is upfront in what they want to do fully," says CAPPS of his work ethic. "When we played at CATCH A RISING STAR we were doing a lot of material from local writers. All kinds of show tunes. She did HOME from THE WIZ and some STREISAND stuff. A lot of cocktail lounge kind of material. One day I had this amp with four kit speakers. I turned it up to ten and started playing WILD THING in G just buzzed out to the max and her eyes lit up and she started singing WILD THING like she was DARLA from THE LITTLE RASCALS. She was just adorable. So we added that one to the set. From there we got away from the show tunes and started doing more rock n roll stuff like PAUL MCCARTNEY's WINGS and some TODD RUNDGREN."
As BENATAR's nightclub act was gaining traction and talk of getting signed to CHRYSALIS started happening, she and CAPPS took to coming up with their own original material such as the BOWIE-esque glam rocker MY CLONE SLEEPS ALONE and the swaggering new wave bop of SO SINCERE, both of which can be heard on BENATAR's debut album IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT.
"We wrote those songs at CATCH A RISING STAR," says CAPPS. "The thing about SO SINCERE is this. Around '75 or '76 PAT and her husband DENNIS were having a lot of problems at that time and I wrote a poem to her and it's the words to the song SO SINCERE. When we got the record deal PAT was like, "We need to make a song out of this." And I said, "Well, it's kind of personal. Isn't it?" And she looked at me and said "You wanna make some money?" She is a very practical woman this girl. So we did that one and MY CLONE SLEEPS ALONE. When I was working on MY CLONE SLEEPS ALONE, I had a couple of cassette recorders and I was bouncing tracks and playing around on keyboards. I was inspired by DAVID BOWIE. On the demo I was singing the song with this English accent. When you hear the song on the album you can hear a little bit of an English accent in PATTI's voice. I called her at 4:30 in the morning after working on MY CLONE SLEEPS ALONE. She got so tickled and said I was nuts. We worked on it later that day. She added more verses and the concept of the song came together with the line "Before we existed the cloning began." That was PATTI's idea. It added some depth to the tune and it's a fun song. It's really about religion."
I had to ask, "How so?"
"You're gonna love this!" teased CAPPS. "I was raised Jehovah's Witness. Being a teenager and having those urges, I could not follow the rules of the Bible and I don't think any guy can. You're set up to fail. That's what the song is about. My clone sleeps alone but I can't. I've got to do this. If I had a clone I would teach him not to do these bad things that I do."
CHRYSALIS RECORDS would soon be home for BENATAR, but according to CAPPS, finalizing the contract between BENATAR and CHRYSALIS took a while. Once the details were ironed out, it was important to start looking for a band and to shift music sonically from an engaging nightclub act into a stadium rock band. This would all happen when guitarist NEIL GIRALDO stepped into the fray.
"The contract went on for several moths and it was 500 pages long. And it was for PATTI. It wasn't for me. I'm just her buddy. The negotiations went on between RICK NEWMAN, her manager, and CHRYSALIS RECORDS for forever. They got what they called the one million dollar push. That meant that CHRYSALIS would dedicate one million dollars towards publicity for a tour and an album and everything. Once they got that in ink we went forward and we started auditions for musicians. One day here comes this guitar player and he's this cool looking little guy with this disco hair. He introduces himself and says "Let's play something!" So I pick up the bass and start playing HERBIE HANCOCK's CHAMELEON and he started warming up on the guitar and then he turned his back to us and just cranked it and wailed. NEIL is a guy who has played with RICK DERRINGER and RICK DERRINGER is a task master and demands perfection and teaches you how to get there and NEIL brought all of those tools with him. So I was the band leader up until we hired NEIL and then he took over with his direction. Our success as a band was really the combination of PATTI and NEIL. I paddled the boat until we got some real guys on board. When PATTI heard him play she fell to her knees and started headbanging. Her hair was flopping everywhere and she really started falling in love with the guy right then and there."
With the band in place, the recording of BENATAR's debut album took place at MCA WHITNEY STUDIOS in Glendale, California with MIKE CHAPMAN (BLONDIE, THE KNACK) behind the recording console with assistance from his protegee PETER COLEMAN. CAPPS looks back on those sessions with a smile and a laugh.
"I loved every minute of it. It's a potpourri of all kinds of material which is good for a first record that way you can see which way everybody is going to like it plus they get to hear a sample of your tastes. I'm proud of that record. I don't listen to it everyday. It was a good record."
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT deserves recognition as one of the greatest debuts by a rock artist. Hitmaking songwriter and producer MIKE CHAPMAN had been working his production magic on such acts as SWEET, SUZI QUATRO and EXILE but by 1979 he was getting a ton of notice for sprinkling a little faerie dust on the New York punk band BLONDIE and helping them to finesse their innate pop sensibility for their breakthrough album PARALLEL LINES. No wonder the folks at CHRYSALIS dialed him up for BENATAR's debut album. IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW HOW TO LOVE ME was the first single and should've been a hit. WIth its PHIL SPECTOR-styled drumming and BENATAR's powerful, yearning vocals, BENATAR'S take on the CHAPMAN penned anthem surpasses the original by SMOKIE. Her rendition of I NEED A LOVER also goes beyond the reach of JOHNNY COUGAR's (Today known as JOHN MELLENCAMP) overindulgent original. Evidence of CHAPMAN's handiwork with BLONDIE shows up on the dance rock sheen of WE LIVE FOR LOVE, the campy MY CLONE SLEEPS ALONE and the cutesy but punchy SO SINCERE. Even though CHAPMAN's Midas touch is in full force, it is BENATAR that emerges as the star, despite some of the cushy, cabaret feel of some of the material. At times, the cartoon toughness is laughable (Her cover of SWEET's NO YOU DON'T). A sweet soprano like her's can do wonders with a ballad but her cover of ALLAN PARSON'S PROJECT's DON'T LET IT SHOW is a little too by-the-numbers and stands out like a sore thumb on an album full of confident and celebratory rockers.
I was curious about the band's relationship with producer MIKE CHAPMAN.
"He's a passionate producer. Let's say that. His passion exceeds human limits. When you listen to the song NO YOU DON'T on IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, you can hear a growl in PAT's voice and she is genuinely angry. MICHAEL told me that he was going to get the tone that he wanted out of her. He went out of the studio and had a conversation with her and totally pissed her off. I don't know what he said to her but he got her so angry and then MICHAEL told her "Okay let's do this song!" That was what got the growl in there and that anger that you hear in there is genuine anger. That is what a producer has to do. It's just like in a movie. A director has to do certain things to get a certain effect to happen on film and that was what MICHAEL did to get it on tape. He did what was necessary and made a great cut."
Any of the album's ten songs could've been a single but the one song that has stood the test of time is HEARTBREAKER, a song penned by GEOFF GILL and CLIFF WADE and originally performed by UK pop singer JENNY DARREN in 1978. BENATAR's version would eighty-six the English colloquialisms of the original and become an enduring hard rock classic.
"I thought NO YOU DON'T was going to be the big single from the album," says CAPPS. "When we got the demo for HEARTBREAKER, I knew the guys who played on it it. They were studio musicians in New York and one of them was PAUL SCAFFER from LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN. He was the one who wrote the instrumental break in the middle of HEARTBREAKER. He doesn't get credit because it was just an arrangement thing. He and his buddies did the demo for CHRYSALIS RECORDS and that was how we got a hold of it. The demo had PAUL on Hammond B3 organ so it had more of a DEEP PURPLE feel to it. We were a band with two guitarists, a bass player and a drummer so we went in that direction with it. Guitarist SCOTT SHEETS just burned it up on the Les Paul and it was a joy making that record. We lived in New York but we stayed in California for the few months it took to make the album. The weather was great and when you're not in the studio you've got plenty to do and nothing to stop you. We really had the best of times."
With HEARTBREAKER's frantic, thunderous beat and driving metal guitar riff, you couldn't have asked for a more defiant and welcome response to the disco that had filled the airwaves in the late seventies. Sure, you had DEBORAH HARRY of BLONDIE making folks comfortable with the thought of a woman singing rock, but BENATAR didn't concern herself with droll observations of love and live. It was clear from the get-go that sexual politics were going to define BENATAR's brand of rock and that alone made her stand out from a scene that was filled with LINDA RONSTADTS and CARLY SIMONS. There was that much publicized four-octave range of hers, but that was just icing. HEARTBREAKER set the tone, not only for the woman's career and her gift for issuing a mean payoff in a chorus, but for the heavier side of pop rock throughout the looming decade.
To promote the album BENATAR and her band were set up for a brief tour which turned into a months long tour of the continental US and Europe. According to CAPPS, their lives changed instantly.
"They booked us for a six week tour and we went out on it. About four week into the tour we started getting radio action up in the Portland/Seattle area so they extended the tour for two weeks and we booked some gigs. While we were up there, the music started hitting somewhere else and another two weeks got added to the tour. That six week toured turned from playing small bars to stadiums and in the end the tour lasted 14 months and the album went platinum. We started touring and we didn't stop. We took off for Christmas and that was it. We were just rocking out all over. We hit England, Germany, Amsterdam and all of Canada twice. As we were touring the first song that really hit was the JOHN COUGAR song I NEED A LOVER. That was the first one that I heard on the radio."
Soon, it was time to head back into the studio and record the follow up album. This time the band would be in the gritty surroundings of SOUND CITY STUDIOS with producer KEITH OLSEN behind the recording console. Despite OLSEN's credit as producer, CAPPS and BENATAR have maintained that it was guitar NEIL GIRALDO who took charge of the sessions that would become the 1980 multi-platinum album CRIMES OF PASSION.
"It was different because it was an entirely different studio. SOUND CITY is where TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS cut all of their albums and so did FLEETWOOD MAC. There are so many ghosts in that place. It smelled of beer and funk. It was just a funky studio and I loved it. We had so much free time there to work on things and get it just right and NEIL was at the helm and did most of the producing of that album. He really did most of the work. He was really honing his craft."
It was easy to dismiss IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT as cushy, new wave cabaret with touches of metal, but its platinum sales guaranteed another album. It would've been all to easy to dial up MIKE CHAPMAN again and repeat the formula but CRIMES OF PASSION ditches the cabaret feel of the first and goes for full on hard rock. On this album, BENATAR comes into her own, not only as a singer but also a songwriter ( she co-wrote six of the albums ten tracks) and the romantic relationship between her and guitarist NEIL GIRALDO yielded some creative benefits. The songs TREAT ME RIGHT, YOU BETTER RUN, HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT and HELL IS FOR CHILDREN remain radio mainstays today, but songs such as the glorious KATE BUSH cover WUTHERING HEIGHTS, the seductive strut of I'M GONNA FOLLOW YOU and rock n roll revelry of LITTLE PARADISE would've been equally as comfortable on rock radio.
One song that CAPPS had a hand in writing for CRIMES OF PASSION was the controversial HELL IS FOR CHILDREN. The song was BENATAR's first foray into making music with a message and this stinging indictment on child abuse still manages to disturb and electrify 40 years after its release. HELL IS FOR CHILDREN gave CRIMES OF PASSION the emotional heft that the album needed. According to CAPPS, the song had its roots in painful childhood memories.
"That tune first came about when were at CATCH A RISING STAR when we were rehearsing and writing. PATTI came in one day with the NEW YORK TIMES with an article titled HELL IS FOR CHILDREN. It was about these kids that were held under lock and key for eight and a half years and beaten and sexually abused. This article just devastated me and PAT. PAT's family is Irish and Polish and they were just the best family. There were no horrors in her family whatsoever. May father was a World War II vet and he was pretty heavy handed. I had several concussions by the time I was seven. I had suffered some abuse. So did my sister. So I knew what I was writing about. PATTY knew from the article and other stories she had heard so we started composing this lyrics and we got it written in just about two days. When we played it for the first time, it just made a hell of an impression on the audience. We wanted to make sure this song got on the record. When composing it I chose a chord pattern similar to NEIL YOUNG's OHIO. That song is about the students being shot by the National Guard. I decided that that was the worst child abuse that I could think of. So the verse chords that you hear are actually the chords to OHIO pretty much. For the opening of the song, I was inspired by the idea of doomsday bells on guitar. You can kind of hear the clanging of it on the guitar and NEIL played it exactly like I wrote it. He plays it that way to this day. PAT and NEIL still play that song for every show and they're going to keep playing it until child abuse is over. I'm honored to have been a part of that song and I'm glad it touches people."
By the time we get to album number three, BENATAR was rock n roll's premiere coloratura and this time, boyfriend NEIL GIRALDO was finally on the books as co-producer with KEITH OLSEN. Truth be told, this is BENATAR's most consistent album to date with songs that paint the woman as a rock n roll heroine willing to take on love, life and fame exclusively on her own terms. This is evidenced by the hits FIRE AND ICE and the positively torchy PROMISES IN THE DARK, but there is also a world weariness and a disillusionment with fame that has come into play with songs like the reggaefied IT'S A TUFF LIFE and the slow burn of the title track. Still there were some tricks left over from CRIMES such as the "message" song EVIL GENIUS which tells the tale of a child sociopath with the help of a grand piano and horn section. Then there is the cover HELTER SKELTER , a tribute to the late JOHN LENNON that truly kicks. Oh, and this was BENATAR's only album to reach "number one".
I discussed PROMISES IN THE DARK with CAPPS.
"I could see those two laying in night in bed and writing that song. They had just gotten together. I was really excited about the writing between the two of them. It was really exciting and I love that record. I think PRECIOUS TIME is the classiest record of all of them. I really do."
PROMISES IN THE DARK opens as a down tempo piano ballad. In the opening verse, BENATAR reprimands her lover for thinking with his other brain, but as we've learned in other BENATAR compositions, a relationship can be saved if you put in the effort. Perhaps the song documents the shaky ground that the romantic partnership between BENATAR and GIRALDO was on at the the time. The couple briefly separated before they reconciled and married in 1982. Musically, PROMISES is an urgent rocker that demonstrates a crumbling relationship with it's false stops and hair trigger tempo changes. The vocal performance from BENATAR herself is incendiary and operatic.
Rock n roll is not about settling down. It's about partying, loud music, notoriety and celebrity. Well, that was the case back in the eighties. After spending the better part of a year away from each other , PAT and NEIL rekindled their romance and flew to Hawaii and got married on the beach before a couple of random witnesses in 1982. Sure, the couple was always a creative partnership but marriage seemed to solidify that partnership and before anyone knew it, the duo set out to change their sound. That meant getting rid of rhythm guitarist SCOTT ST. CLAIR SHEETS and replacing him with keyboardist CHARLIE GIORDANO. I asked CAPPS his thoughts on the shake up in BENATAR's sound.
"I fall back on my creed. Whoever I'm working with I support whatever they do 100%. I put my energy and my thoughts toward the project and I move in that direction. I never had a problem with the changes they wanted to go with."
The single SHADOWS OF THE NIGHT put the public on notice of the bigger sound that was coming their way with BENATAR's fourth studio album GET NERVOUS. Keyboardist CHARLIE GIORDANO replaced rhythm guitarist SCOTT ST. CLAIR SHEETS and as a result, a new wave varnish dominated the songs as evidenced by the other singles LOOKING FOR A STRANGER and the stomping LITTLE TOO LATE. Despite the slight shake up in the sound, the metal chick with a fighting spirit can still be heard on tracks like THE VICTIM, FIGHT IT OUT, I WANT OUT and I'LL DO IT, where BENATAR gives us her finest lyric "I need more than your bedside manner / I need someone to love" These were the songs that should've been the singles. A magazine like ROLLING STONE was finally onboard with BENATAR and the band at this point and gave the album the coveted four-star rating.
PAT and NEIL continued to push the limits of their sound with the single LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD, a studio cut on their otherwise live 1983 album LIVE FROM EARTH. MIKE CHAPMAN returned to the BENATAR camp along with songwriter/protege HOLLY KNIGHT with a song that outlines just how troublesome love can be. The song is remembered most for its BOB GIRALDI-directed music video, and the shoulder shimmy that liberates PAT and her fellow dime-a-dance girls from their slimy pimp. The drumming was sequenced, the lead guitar had a pop sheen and BENATAR delivered a top ten hit and a true eighties pop classic.
BENATAR's 1984 album TROPICO would mark another major shift in her sound. On the heels of the gentle first single WE BELONG, the curious sixth album that didn't come with a tour, a power chord or the rock n roll revelry that typified earlier releases made its debut.. When we're not treated to such acoustic led fair as the seductive PAINTED DESERT or the haunting OUTLAW BLUES (which should've been a single) we are given curious synth and percussion driven exercises such as DIAMOND FIELD and the KATE BUSH-esque TEMPORARY HEROES. Sonically, the album is all over the place and that can be disconcerting for a fan who has grown to love BENATAR for all her rah rah rah.
TROPICO also marked the end of ROGER CAPP's tenure with BENATAR, only playing on the tracks WE BELONG and PAINTED DESERT.
"The last day of my employment we were standing in the lobby of MCA WHITNEY STUDIOS on Glen Oaks Boulevard which is where we cut IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT. This is where we were recording TROPICO. On our first tour I fell in love and we became pregnant. My girl had a problem in Dallas Fort Worth and my son lived for two weeks and we lost him and I never did get over that. Of course we broke up. We're friends now but it was a really tough two years and I got more and more depressed. Back to the lobby at MCA WHITNEY STUDIOS, there was this top ten list put out by psychologists that are the warning signs of depression. I said "PATTI look at this?" She started reading it and she said"You've got this?" and I said "Yes". She went down the list and then she got to number eight which said "contemplating suicide." She looked at me said "You've got that?" and I said "Yes!" That was it. She got pissed walked into the control room. The manager came out and said "Roger, you need to leave!" That was my last minute with the BENATAR organization. As they were making TROPICO."
***fter being jettisoned from the BENATAR fold, one would think that getting on board with another act would be the way for ROGER CAPPS to move forward. What else does one do when they've worked with a GRAMMY winning artist for ten years, played on a series of platinum selling albums and co-wrote such a formidable rock anthem as HELL IS FOR CHILDREN? CAPPS confesses that there was one musical project that he had been involved with but it had fizzled quickly. With no music to inspire him CAPPS went into computer programming and made a decent coin. With his former wife, he found the time to write a book on the many uses of Kombucha years before anyone started drinking it in earnest. In speaking with CAPPS one gets that sense that there is nothing that could stop the guy. Not even a diagnosis of Lymphoma. He has been cancer free since 2018.
"It's by the grace of God that I'm still here. It was looking pretty bad," says CAPPS.
Life has gone on for both PAT and NEIL GIRALDO as well. As the creative core of the BENATAR juggernaut, the couple have released six more albums on a less consistent basis and none of them have ever reached platinum sales. From the outside, it seems as if the rock n roll life has been replaced with a rewarding family life. PAT and NEIL are blessed with two adult daughters, HALEY and HANNA and one grandchild.
Despite being abruptly fired from BENATAR's band thirty-six years ago, CAPPS has maintained a friendship with the GIRALDOS - one that saw him through his cancer treatments. "I was sick with cancer a couple of years ago and NEIL bless his heart stayed in touch with me and got me with his doctor and sent me medicine every week. They both took good care of me. They are both really wonderful people. Best people I know."
The musical legacy of PAT BENATAR is everywhere on classic rock radio, but for CAPPS it has been especially hard to escape. Ten years ago, the cover band circuit became inundated with various PAT BENATAR tribute bands and CAPPS found himself a celebrity within this scene. He started picking up his bass and sharing the spotilight with these various troubadours.
"There are probably about twenty BENATAR cover bands and I get invited to play with them and I love it. It helps them because I have some celebrity and helps me because I don't have to rehearse. I just fly in, do the gig and get the hell out. What I usually do is I leave their band intact and I just take my eight string bass. Their bass player plays and I play the eight string bass. They don't have to change a thing and it works out really well. I did the first of these shows with a band called HEARTBREAKER ten years ago. Their singer PAM EDGAR looks just like PATTI and sings her but off. They are a great band with good musicians. There are twenty BENATAR cover bands and I've played with each of them for about a half dozen times each over ten years."
PAT BENATAR and NEIL GIRALDO have created a catalog of music that has endured and ROGER CAPPS contributions to that music were plenty. It's just too bad that a body such as the ROCK N ROLL HALL FAME has yet to acknowledge the feats of PAT BENATAR and her music. My last question to CAPPS was in regard to PAT and NEIL's musical legacy. IF the ROCK N ROLL didn't care to acknowledge it, I asked him what he though the duo's legacy should be.
"The thing about those two is that you can search anyone that knows them, you can search the web and you won't find any dirt. You won't. They are high quality people. I know them personally and they've never done a damn thing wrong to anybody. They've always had the highest quality standards in life and in music. There aren't any better people than them. They've always taken really good care of me and I can't say enough good about them."
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