She was born Patricia Mae Andrzejewski in Brooklyn, New York and initially studied opera like her mother. She married Dennis T. Benatar in 1971, giving her the more easily pronounced surname she is famous as. She was discovered at amateur-night contest at a New York City comedy club in 1977, and was signed to Chrysalis Records by its founder Terry Ellis.
She is known for her beautiful operatic voice and tough attitude. She won four consecutive Grammy Awards for "Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female" from 1980 to 1983, and nominated 4 additional times in 1985, 1986, 1988, and 1989.