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Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio.

Ohio Rocks! Hit songs from legendary Ohioans - ‘Jessie’s Girl’

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Yup. This ‘80’s super-classic song was co-created by a guy from Cleveland. If you’re a rock ‘n roll fan, you know the name Neil Giraldo. If you’re more of a fan of celebrities, then you may know that Giraldo is the husband of Pat Benatar, the legendary rock singer.

Giraldo was born in Cleveland, and graduated from high school in Parma, Ohio. He broke into the music business by working in fellow Ohio native and rocker Rick Derringer’s band. Just a few years later, another friend in the music industry would introduce Giraldo to a newly signed (by a music label) singer, Benatar. Giraldo and Benatar would go on to have a fantastic professional relationship and a special personal bond: he would produce the majority of her albums and some of her biggest hit singles, and then the two would get married in 1982.

Giraldo also did outside production work away from his Benatar creations. His biggest non-Benatar project was the two songs he worked on for the album Working Class Dog by Rick Springfield. Working… was Springfield’s breakthrough album, and Giraldo played guitar and had a huge hand in the making of the hit song I’ve Done Everything for You, and the mega smash Jessie’s Girl. When it comes to finding out who exactly produced Jessie’s Girl, it gets murky; some sources report that Giraldo produced the song, while other publications state that Keith Olsen produced the single. What is true is Giraldo played bass on the track and did the song’s guitar solo. Jessie’s Girl went on to become the number one song in the country in August of 1981, a platinum selling (one million copies) single, and a seminal ‘80’s classic.

It’s a safe bet that marrying and starting a family with Pat Benatar is Neil Giraldo’s greatest accomplishment. But, us ‘80’s kids would like to think that not too far down that list is the work he did on Jessie’s Girl, one of the first real radio and video hits that our generation had. And one that still rocks…just like Ohio.

Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio. This series is made possible by support from Ohio Arts Council.

Greg Simms Jr. is a veteran content creator and cultural expert who's worked for numerous digital publications over the years. He's a resident of Greene County, but he's always aware of social-cultural events happening all over the Miami Valley. To contact Greg, email him at: grgsmmsjr@gmail.com