Springfield, Rick (originally, Springhorpe, Richard)

views updated

Springfield, Rick (originally, Springhorpe, Richard)

Springfield, Rick (originally, Springhorpe, Richard), major pop artist and actor of the 1980s; b. Sydney, Australia, Aug. 23, 1949. While Australians knew him as a singer, American audiences had more trouble accepting Rick Springfield. Most of his initial fans in the U.S. knew of him not from his 1972 hit “Speak to the Sky” but his role nearly a decade later on the soap opera General Hospital. However, while his music might have had the air of pre-fab pop rock, he wrote most of his hits and they have held up surprisingly well.

Springfield’s father was in the military and moved the family around quite a bit. Springfield spent much of his youth reading and playing the guitar. He finally was in one place long enough in high school to form a band. From there he joined a 1950s revival group before landing in the popular Australian teen band Zoot. After a memorable three-month tour entertaining in Vietnam, Zoot became one of the most popular bands in the Antipodes at the turn of the decade. When the band disbanded, Springfield went solo. He re-recorded one of the band’s songs “Speak to the Sky,” which became a hit in the U.S., climbing to #14 in 1972, and taking the Beginnings album to #35. However, he couldn’t follow it up, and subsequent albums didn’t do nearly as well. He came to loggerheads with his record company and was enjoined from recording for three years.

Springfield had been taking acting classes and made some guest appearances on television shows as a contract player with Universal. In 1980 he extricated himself from his previous recording contract, signing with RCA. Additionally, he was offered a plum role of single, eligible doctor Noah Drake in the popular soap opera General Hospital. His character became one of the most popular on daytime TV. When his RCA debut, Working Class Dog, with its humorous cover of a well-dressed pit bull, came out in 1981, it had a ready-made audience. The infectious single “Jessie’s Girl” topped the charts, went gold, and won a Best Rock Song Grammy Award. His version of Sammy Hagar’s rocker “I’ve Done Everything for You” rose to #8 and “Love Is Alright Tonight” hit #20. The album went to #7 and platinum.

When Springfield’s two careers came into conflict, he gave up General Hospital, opting for his first love. Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet followed less than a year after Working Class Dog. The single “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” infused with that curious post-disco beat very popular among pop artist in the early 1980s, reached #2 for four weeks. The follow-up singles, “What Kind of Fool” and “I Get Excited,” didn’t fare as well (and were more pedestrian), peaking at #21 and #32 respectively. However the album was #2 for three weeks and also went platinum. The following year’s Living in Oz also went platinum, rising to #12 on the basis of the #9 hit “Affair of the Heart,” the #18 hit “Human Touch,” and the #23 “Souls.” Ironically, since “Human Touch” dealt with the rise of technology in music, all of the tunes relied a bit more on synthesized keyboards than his previous guitar pop.

In 1984 Springfield tried to bring together his two professions, starring in the film Hard to Hold and writing the songs for the soundtrack. His song “Love Somebody”—heavily showing the influence of Bruce Springsteen—hit #5. This was followed by the #26 “Don’t Walk Away” and the #20 “Bop Til You Drop.” The movie did well at the box office, and the album rose to #16 and went platinum. Next, Springfield cut the novelty song “Bruce” about people mistaking him for Springsteen that actually went to #27.

1985’s Tao featured the minor hits “Celebrate Youth” (#26) and “State of the Heart” (#22). It hit #21 and went gold largely on fan momentum. Three years later, Rock of Life featured Springfield’s last Top 40 hit, the #22 title track. After that, Springfield dropped off the radar for a while, recovering from a motorcycle accident, a three-year TV syndication contract, and just wanting to stay home and raise his family. He returned in the late 1990s, once again juggling two careers: he made many TV guest appearances and released a new album called Karma in 1999.


Just Zoot (1969); Zoot Out (1970); Beginnings (1972); Comic Book Heroes (1974); Mission Magic (1974); Wait for Night (1976); Working Class Dog (1981); Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet (1982); Living in Oz (1983); Beautiful Feelings (1984); Hard to Hold (1984); Tao (1985); Rock of Life (1988); Karma (1999).

—Hank Bordowitz

About this article

Springfield, Rick (originally, Springhorpe, Richard)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article