Neil Giraldo | Living a Life of Expression, Innovation, & Creativity

Neil Giraldo was born in 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio. Immersed in the culture of his beloved Sicilian ancestry, his parents Anthony and Angela Giraldo instilled the love of music at a young age, giving Neil his first guitar at the age of six, with the hopes that he and his sister, Priscilla, who played the accordion, could entertain family and friends with songs from the old country after church on Sundays. As Neil got older, his mentor, Uncle Tim, introduced him to revolutionary bands like The Yardbirds, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, and all the other great guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll bands of the 1960s. Finding new and innovative ways to shadow path his way into songs, Neil developed a discipline early on of not just playing along to his favorite artists but creating different parts for himself within those tracks. At the same time, the budding guitar artist also became proficient on piano by continuously practicing along to Chuck Berry (Johnnie Johnson), Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis records. His interest in percussion instruments soon followed, practicing the drums to Simon & Garfunkel albums he explored how different rhythms could alter the complexion of songs. These practices and disciplines created the foundation for his future success as an innovative record producer and musician.

Giraldo began his professional career in 1978 as a key member of the Rick Derringer band after competing against 200 other guitarists for the position. It wasn’t long before Rick discovered Giraldo’s piano playing prowess and quickly put those skills to work in the studio for the recording Guitars and Women. In the spring of 1979, Mike Chapman introduced Giraldo to an up-and-coming singer named Pat Benatar who had recently signed to Chrysalis Records. While impressed with the young vocalist, Chapman felt she needed a musical partner who could facilitate the creation of a sound both identifiable and powerful. Over the years Neil has produced some of their biggest hits including “Love is a Battlefield” and “We Belong.”

With a back catalog of more than 100 songs written and more than 45 million records sold, Giraldo has written, produced, arranged, and recorded for Pat Benatar, John Waite, Rick Springfield, Kenny Loggins, Steve Forbert, The Del Lords, Beth Hart, The Coors, and others, which include many Grammy-nominated and Grammy-winning hits.

Today, Giraldo’s career is as dynamic and diverse as ever. He is in the process of completing two books – one an autobiographical novel, one a motivational book on the psychology of creating. He is further expanding his Bel Chiasso entertainment company, which is developing a variety of television, film and Broadway theater projects.

On May 16th 2016 Neil founded Three Chord Bourbon to celebrate creativity, community, and tradition by bringing together the award-winning musician and producer’s love of whiskey and music with his passion for conversations with family and friends.

Inspired by the simplicity yet infinite expressions of the three chord progression — the foundation of the blues — Neil collaborated with master blender and distiller, Ari Sussman, to bring together notes of a variety of bourbons and create a distinctive taste in whiskey that balances simplicity and complexity in perfect harmony.


Neil has utilized this new platform to assist emerging musicians via Three Chord Musical Ambassador program. Learn more at ThreeChordBourbon.com

Show Highlights:

05:40 – The origination of his company Three Chord Bourbon and specifically how the “Strange Collaboration” line was created.

09:05 – The power and necessity of integrity, intuition, & gratitude. Neil pays tribute to his father.

12:30 – How Neil got started playing music. Neil pays tribute to his mother and her value of discipline. Also, how he was introduced to Rock-n-Roll and how his cousin “Skeeter” influenced his guitar playing.

18:50 – How intuition & feel is the key to his playing and production styles; being present and how “over-thinking” destroys creativity.  Also a deep dive into how he values producing and dissecting songs.

26:30 – A deep dive on Neil’s “percussive” style of playing guitar.

35:00 – Neil’s mission & vison of Three Chord Bourbon. It’s all about giving back to musicians and teaching them how to do the “business” side of music.

46:00 – How Neil has progressed as a husband, father, & leader.  Neil also talks about the power of extreme confidence that is coupled with humility and teachability.

53:00 – A discussion around limiting beliefs & self-doubt. Neil talks about the necessity of drive, tenacity, and confidence.  Neil also talks about how to use a “chip-on-your-shoulder” mentality in a positive way.

61:00 – Saying yes to the Universe, chance encounters, and the creation of his collaboration with Pat Benatar.

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