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The Story Behind Our 1985 Pat Benatar Cover

The superstar, finally and long overdue inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was a trailblazer for women
Photographer: Loren Haynes

Loren Haynes, one of our most venerable staff photographers, who we profiled here, remembers the issue well, partly because it was the first time we hired him.

“My first gig for SPIN was the Pat Benatar cover and story, for the September 1985 Issue. It was possibly going to be Lydia Lunch and Pat on the cover, which I was hoping for — how bitching would that have that been? But in the end it was just Pat. Lydia, the fiercely underground, no wave musician and poet provocateur, interviewed her. Very SPIN.” 

After that, Loren shot Little Steven, who’d left the E Street Band and recorded “Sun City.” Then he photographed the 1991 Gen X / Dead Head New Years Eve piece, written by Douglas Coupland, who had just published Generation X: Tales for An Accelerated Culture, the generation-defining (and naming) novel. 

Credit: Loren Haynes


It might be hard to remember now, but by 1985 Pat Benetar was about the biggest star in music. She was certainly the queen of MTV, a photogenic beauty rocker in tight clothes, gyrating provocatively (by 1985 standards) to “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”  and “We Belong,” and the massive hit single that bestrode the Earth, “Love Is a Battlefield.” She sold millions of records, quickened millions of hearts, and made MTV probably way more than MTV made her.

In our interview she said, presciently and fatalistically, about Madonna, “I taught her how to fucking wear tights, man. Please let her do it for a while. I’m so happy someone else is doing it. Let her have a good time.” 

Her point was, and it was a good and important one, that people should stop obsessing about “the color of my panties and concentrate more on my singing.” But it was also a bit like that Yankees center fielder, whose name I can’t remember, who once wanted a day off and said: “Let the kid play,” and the kid was Joe DiMaggio. 

Don’t forget the times — how tough the industry was for women, how someone like Pat Benatar opened so many doors for women who followed. She may have longed to retire the tights (and did) but she continued to have hits for another nearly two decades, and truly was a trailblazer.