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Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo are celebrating 35 years together as lovers and musicians. Their anniversary tour rolls into Walker's Bluff in Carterville on Sunday, July 13.

When Pat Benatar and Neil “Spyder” Giraldo first met at the her rehearsal studio in 1979, they were just two young musicians with modest expectations.

Benatar had separated from her first husband, although the divorce hadn’t been finalized yet, and found an instant attraction to Giraldo, both musically and romantically. The two began dating in earnest after the finalization of her divorce later that year.

“We were so young. Every single day, we were trying to get through that day. We weren’t looking ahead a year at a time,” Benatar said. “We were hoping for five years. We’d make some records, make some money and move on.”

The couple made records. They made money. But they never quite moved on.

Thirty-five years later, Benatar and Giraldo still tour the country, performing at venues large and small, sharing songs and smiles with audiences that have followed them for a generation.

While their children were in school, the couple limited their travel schedule, as it was difficult for both parents to be out of town. But now that the youngest has graduated high school, the full touring schedules of about 125 dates a year have started backed up again.

“It’s insane, but it’s kind of fun and normal,” Benatar said. “The seduction of it all is still there.”

Benatar and Giraldo have been performing all year, but the last few weeks have marked the beginning of their 35th Anniversary Tour. They’ll bring the show to Southern Illinois this weekend, as the couple takes the stage at Walker’s Bluff at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 13.

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Mixing smaller venues, like Walker’s Bluff, with those that hold upward of 15,000 people helps keep things exciting and fresh for the performers.

“Sometimes, the intimate ones are really, really fun,” Benatar said. “You can fine tune how you set things up and really engage with the audience.”

Tickets to the Walker’s Bluff concert are $45 for general admission and $140 for VIP and can be purchased at the venue’s general store, by calling 618-956-9900 or online at www.walkersbluff.com.

Fans can expect to hear the classic songs they know and love and to experience firsthand the chemistry that’s developed between Benatar and Giraldo through the past 35 years of lyrical love.

“It’s the glue that holds us together. We were players before we were lovers,” she said. “I’m playing with my best friend and my muse.”

The couple continues to explore their creativity outside of music, as well. Giraldo is in the process of writing an autobiography, while Benatar works on a novel about the second coming of Christ and a cookbook.

She said she’s always loved words, whether they’re in the form of a book or song lyrics.

“This is just another outlet for me,” she said.

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