Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rick Springfield


Don’ Talk To Strangers


Love Somebody

Rick Springfield (born Richard Lewis Springthorpe on August 23, 1949 in Sydney) is an Australian-American songwriter, musician and actor. As a musician he is most famous for the 1981 #1 single "Jessie's Girl", which became a Grammy Award-winning landmark of 1980s pop-rock and helped establish the emerging music video age. Also an actor, Springfield's best known role is that of the character Dr. Noah Drake on the daytime drama General Hospital. He originated the character from 1981-1983 and then returned to play him again from 2005 until present.

Background
Springfield grew up in a military family and frequently moved as his father was posted to various military bases throughout Australia and Great Britain. Springfield started playing piano at age 9. He began playing the guitar at age 13 and writing songs at 14.

Musical career
In 1967, Springfield dropped out of high school to begin his professional music career. His first appearance in a band was as a singer/guitarist in the band Rock House. In 1968, the band changed the name to MPD, Ltd, then embarked on a tour of Vietnam to entertain the troops stationed there.

In 1969, when Springfield returned to Australia, he formed a band named Wickedy Wak with MPD bandmates Danny Finley and Paul Shannon, along with a keyboardist who went by the name of Ray Wight. Later that year, he joined the band Zoot. Zoot became one of the most popular Australian groups of the late 1960s. Another notable member of Zoot was Beeb Birtles, who in 1975 went on to form the Little River Band. In May 1971, when Zoot broke up, Springfield began a solo career. He had a #1 hit single in Australia, "Speak to the Sky."

After his success in Australia, the 22-year-old Springfield relocated to Hollywood, California in 1972. Capitol Records signed him, and he recorded his first album Beginnings. "Speak to the Sky" was re-released as a single in the US, and reached #14 in the Billboard Top 100. Exposure on American Bandstand, as well as being regularly featured in teen fan magazines such as 16 magazine and Tiger Beat, sparked interest amongst teenage girls. In 1973 a Saturday morning cartoon called Mission: Magic! was centered around Springfield and ran for one year, with a soundtrack album also released.

According to the 2005 A&E documentary Rick Springfield: Behind The Image, radio stations became suspicious of the album "Beginnings" and refused to play it, because of rumors that the record company, Capitol Records, was paying people to purchase it. Capitol denied the rumor, but Springfield was subsequently dropped from the label. However, in 1973 he was signed by Columbia Records, who released his second album Comic Book Heroes (1974). It received very good reviews from Rolling Stone Magazine, but it failed to chart. Springfield was dropped from that label as well, and plans to release an album entitled Springfield were also scrapped.

In 1976, Springfield released a third album Wait for Night under the Chelsea Records label. But while he was out touring to promote the album, the record company went bankrupt. Despite one single, "Take A Hand", grazing the Top 40, the album still fell off the charts. Throughout the rest of the 1970s, Springfield performed in various clubs on the Sunset Strip and throughout Los Angeles, but was unable to maintain a career at the top of the charts.

After a break of several years to do some acting (see section below), Springfield returned to music in 1981 with the album Working Class Dog. Most notable on this album were the singles "Jessie's Girl", which went to #1 on the Billboard charts, and "I've Done Everything for You" which was written by Sammy Hagar, and reached #8 on Billboard. Springfield won a Grammy in 1982 for "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance" for "Jessie's Girl". Springfield was also nominated for a second Grammy in 1982 and a third Grammy in 1983. His subsequent release in 1982, the album Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet, also contained a string of top 40 hits including the #2 hit "Don't Talk to Strangers" and the ballad "What Kind of Fool Am I?"

His 1983 album Living in Oz contained more serious subject matter, and more of a hard-rock sound. The album went platinum on the strength of the hits "Human Touch", "Souls", and "Affair of the Heart". That same year he won an American Music Award for "Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist" along with John Cougar Mellencamp.

His 1984 single "Love Somebody" (from the soundtrack album to the Hard to Hold movie he starred in that year) was his last top ten hit in the U.S. to date, peaking at #5 on the Billboard singles chart. He stopped touring in 1985, for the birth of his first son, Liam. Also in 1984, Mercury Records released Beautiful Feelings which were unreleased sessions Rick recorded in 1978 but never released. The LP was remixed and additional instrumentation was added without Rick's involvement. Rick attempted to block the release of this LP, but was unsuccessful. Springfield later purchased an ad in several music industry magazines revealing the true nature of this LP, and he did not authorize it's release and his new LP (the afordmentioned "Hard To Hold") would be coming out soon. Despite the controversy, "Beautiful Feelings" reached number 78 on the LP charts, and a single, "Bruce", a song about people mistaking Rick for Bruce Springsteen, hit number 27 on the Hot 100.

Springfield was one of several performers who participated in the Live Aid charity concert. After releasing the album Tao in 1985, Springfield chose to take a break from recording to spend more time with his family, and to deal with the depression that had affected him since his adolescence.

In 1987, Springfield returned to the studio and released the album Rock of Life. The next year, he was seriously injured in an ATV accident. Since he was unable to play the guitar for six months, the planned tour to promote his album was canceled. It would be nearly a decade before Springfield would return to the studio to record the albums Sahara Snow (1997) and Karma(1999).

From 1999 onward, he has held several concert tours throughout North America. In February 2004, he released the critically acclaimed album "Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance" (in short S/D/A/A) on his own "Gomer Record" label. It went up to #8 on the Top Independent Albums chart, and #22 on Top Internet Album Sales chart.

In 2005, Springfield released The Day After Yesterday - a collection of his covers of "songs [he] wish[es] [he] had written."

Curiously the one global chart market Springfield failed to break into with any great success was the British chart scene, despite having lived in the UK for a period and having a huge following there. This seeming failure was due more to timing than lack of popularity as the genre of soft rock that Springfield was part of remained largely unsuccessful in the new romantic and ska dominated British charts of the early 80s, which also saw the likes of Olivia Newton John and British artists Sheena Easton and Def Leppard fail to enjoy any great success in the period. He is often likened to the modern British act Robbie Williams who has suffered a similar fate in the United States despite global appeal and a decidedly strong American fan base. retrospectively the soft rock explosion in late 80s Britain has ensured that, despite not being a big hit at the time, Jessie's Girl, Springfield's biggest UK hit, is today regarded as an 80's classic with regular airplay in the UK.

Acting career
Because of various issues regarding the management of his recording career and uncertainty with immigration paperwork, in the 1970s Springfield decided to branch off into acting. He had already starred in the cartoon series Mission: Magic, produced by Filmation in 1973, where he appears in the animated format, along with the teacher Miss Tickle and her teenaged students. In 1978, he became one of the last contract actors signed to Universal Studios, and appeared in several guest roles in series such as The Incredible Hulk and The Rockford Files. He also had a brief role as Zac in the 1978 movie Battlestar Galactica, and a small recurring role on the soap opera The Young and The Restless.

In 1981, Springfield became a soap opera star on General Hospital. He had signed a contract with RCA Records and already recorded the album Working Class Dog, which neither he nor his agent had expected would do very well, which is why Springfield took the soap role. But the song "Jessie's Girl" went to #1, and Springfield ended up both playing the role of Dr. Noah Drake from 1981 through 1983, while simultaneously going on tour with his band. The success of the song boosted the ratings of the show, which according to Springfield "became the biggest show on TV for that summer," and the fame from the show likewise boosted the sale of the song.

In 1984, Springfield made one full length feature film Hard to Hold. It was considered a box office failure, but the movie did produce a successful soundtrack with a top ten song "Love Somebody."

Despite the fact that he played a young rock star in Hard to Hold, in real life Springfield was already in his 30s, had become a husband and father, and was growing uncomfortable with the teen idol image he portrayed.

Throughout the 1990s, Springfield acted in several made-for-TV movies, and appeared in television shows such as Suddenly Susan. In 1992, he starred in the suspense detective series Human Target. From 1994 to 1996, he also starred in another detective series, High Tide.

In addition to the roles on television and in film, Springfield also acted in musical theatre. In 1995, he was a member of the original Broadway cast of the musical Smokey Joe's Cafe. This Tony Award-nominated musical featured the songs of rock & roll songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. From February 2000 through December 2002, Springfield performed in EFX Alive!at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada to critical acclaim.

In 2001, he appeared in the film Dying to Dance, which also starred another General Hospital actor, Kimberly McCullough (Robin Scorpio). Springfield also played the role of Nick Knight in the original Forever Knight TV movie, a role later taken up by Geraint Wyn Davies.

General Hospital
In December 2005, Springfield was asked by the General Hospital producers to return to the show, and he returned to his role as Dr. Noah Drake after a 23-year absence. His run was subsequently extended, although as of 2007 he remains a guest star on recurring status, and not a full contract cast member.

In July 2007, a new storyline was introduced with another character also played by Springfield, Eli Love, "a 1980s rock star" who just happens to look exactly like Dr. Drake. The storyline requires Drake, who hates musicians, to fill in for an injured Eli Love at a charity concert. In the summer of 2008, he returned as both Noah Drake and Eli Love. On July 29 2008, he performed his latest single "What's Victoria's Secret" on the show.

Discography
Studio albums
Beginnings (1972) #35 US
Comic Book Heroes (1973)
Mission Magic (1974)
Wait for Night (1976)
Working Class Dog (1981) #7 US
Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet (1982) #2 US
Living in Oz (1983) #12 US
Hard to Hold (1984) #16 US
Tao (1985) #21 US
Rock of Life (1988) #55 US
Karma (1999) #189 US
Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance (2004)
The Day After Yesterday (2005) #197 US
Venus in Overdrive (2008) #28 US
Other releases
Beautiful Feelings (1984) US #78 (New instrumentation of songs originally recorded in 1978, published without Rick's accept)
Sahara Snow (1997)(With Tim Pierce and Bob Marlette)
The Greatest Hits ALIVE (2001)
Platinum & Gold Collection: Rick Springfield (2003)
Written in Rock--Anthology (2005)
Live in Rockford (2006) DVD concert
The Early Sound City Sessions (2007) Original recordings from 1978 that later became Beautiful Feelings in 1984

Singles
Year
Song
1972
"Speak to the Sky"
1972
"What Would the Children Think"
1974
"American Girls"
1976
"Take a Hand"
1981
"Jessie's Girl"
1981
"I've Done Everything for You"
1981
"Love Is Alright Tonight"
1982
"Don't Talk to Strangers"
1982
"What Kind of Fool Am I"
1982
"I Get Excited"
1983
"Affair of the Heart"
1983
"Human Touch"
1983
"Souls"
1984
"Love Somebody"
1984
"Bop 'Til You Drop"
1984
"Don't Walk Away"
1984
"Taxi Dancing" (duet with Randy Crawford)
1984
"Bruce"
1985
"Celebrate Youth"
1985
"State of the Heart"
1988
"Rock of Life"
2004
"Beautiful You"
2008
"What's Victoria's Secret"

External links
RickSpringfield.com
Official myspace page

2 comments:

Lauri said...

Just an amazing enduring talent! His new cd Venus in Overdrive is terrific. It shows the "work" and "class" of Working Class Dog and should and earns the right to be "successful" because that hasn't "spoiled Rick yet". He keeps on producing quality material and I recommend the cd to anyone. Give it a listen. Rick stands the test of time to be sure.

Anonymous said...

Rick has contributed so much more to the world of rock and roll than most people realize. Even his early works are underrated! He is just as strong musically NOW as he was then, during his 80's fame, if not moreso.

Venus in Overdrive is a must-have CD for anyone who loves rock music with meaning and depth. He continues to make incredible music that's timeless. :)

Kelley

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