Rick Springfield (born Richard Lewis Springthorpe; 23 August 1949) is an Australian musician, singer-songwriter, and actor. He was a member of the pop rock group Zoot from 1969 to 1971, then started his solo career with his début single "Speak to the Sky" reaching the top 10 in Australia in mid-1972, when he relocated to the United States. He had a No. 1 hit with "Jessie's Girl" in 1981 in both Australia and the US, for which he received the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. He followed with four more top 10 US hits, "I've Done Everything for You", "Don't Talk to Strangers", "Affair of the Heart" and "Love Somebody". His two US top 10 albums are Working Class Dog (1981) and Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet (1982). As an actor, he portrayed Dr. Noah Drake on the daytime drama General Hospital, from 1981 to 1983 and during 2005 to 2008 and 2012, returning in 2013 for the show's 50th anniversary with son and actor Liam Springthorpe. In 2010, Springfield published his autobiography, Late, Late at Night: A Memoir.
Richard Lewis Springthorpe (later known as Rick Springfield) was born in South Wentworthville, a western suburb of Sydney, on 23 August 1949. Springfield is the son of Norman Springthorpe, an Australian Army career-officer, and Eileen.
Rick Springfield was 13 when he first played guitar, and he joined various bands in England where his father was stationed 1958–1963, and several more after returning to Australia. In 1968, Springfield was approached by bass guitarist Pete Watson to join his group Rockhouse. Later in the year, Watson changed the band's name to MPD Ltd, and in October – when Springfield was 19 years old – they toured South Vietnam to entertain Australian troops. Another member of MPD Ltd was Danny Finley (drummer). Upon returning to Australia, with Springfield, they formed Wickedy Wak. They were joined by Phil Blackmore on keyboards and Dick Howard. Go-Set journalist Ian "Molly" Meldrum produced Wickedy Wak's single, "Billie's Bikie Boys" with Beeb Birtles of pop rock group Zoot as a backing vocalist.
In September 1969, Springfield replaced Roger Hicks as lead guitarist and vocalist in Zoot, with Birtles on bass guitar and vocals, Darryl Cotton on lead vocals and guitar, and Rick Brewer on drums. Upon joining Zoot, Springfield adopted the Think Pink – Think Zoot theme that had the band members dressed head to toe in pink satin. The publicity gimmick brought attention to the group and attracted significant numbers of teenage girl fans; however it caused problems in establishing their credibility as serious rock musicians. Zoot's fifth single, "Hey Pinky", was written by Springfield. The group attempted to shake off their teeny-bopper image. They followed with a hard rock cover version of The Beatles' hit "Eleanor Rigby", which peaked at No. 4 on Go-Set's Top 40 in March 1971. Despite another hit single with "Freak" in April, which was written by Springfield, the band broke-up in May.
Springfield signed with Sparmac Records and issued his début solo single, "Speak to the Sky" in October, which peaked at No. 5 on the Go-Set singles chart. Sparmac label owner, Robie Porter, was also producer and manager for Springfield. After recording his début album, Beginnings in London, Springfield moved to the United States in mid-1972. For the album, Springfield provided all the songwriting, lead vocals, guitar, keyboard and banjo. "Speak to the Sky" was issued in the US by Capitol Records and peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September. His début album Beginnings was the first of seven top 40 albums on the related Billboard 200. However, follow-up success was hampered by rumours that Capitol Records paid people to purchase Springfield's albums, which led to some radio stations boycotting his music.
In 1973, Springfield signed to Columbia Records and recorded his second album, Comic Book Heroes, which was also produced by Porter. In Australia, it was released on Porter's new label, Wizard Records, the album and its two singles failed to chart. Springfield was promoted as a teeny pop idol similar to David Cassidy and Donny Osmond.
He spoke of the teenybopper image in Circus Magazine in 1973. He said he wasn't sure how it happened. "Someone saw my photo and that was it." He went on to say someone asked to take a photo of him in a white suit. He thought that was "a bit dull" so he took some crayons and "scrawled an R with a lightning bolt going through it... which became my emblem."
From September 1972 to September of 1973, he starred as "himself" in the ABC-TV Saturday morning cartoon series Mission: Magic!, for which he usually wrote and performed an original song in each episode. In 1974, Springfield issued an Australia-only album, Mission: Magic! which was "full of infectious bubblegum pop songs". His single, "Take a Hand", reached the US top 50 in 1976 and was from the album Wait for Night, which was issued by his new label Chelsea Records. During the late 1970s Springfield concentrated more on his acting career, guest starring in a number of prime time television dramas.
Springfield continued to write and record, and in 1981 released his next album, Working Class Dog; it spawned the single, "Jessie's Girl", which peaked at No. 1 for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart. It became a worldwide hit. Springfield won the 1981 Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. Working Class Dog reached No.7 on the Billboard 200. Another top 10 single from the album was the Sammy Hagar-penned "I've Done Everything for You". Springfield went on to have success with follow-up albums Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet (1982) and Living in Oz (1983).
Springfield was frustrated with people in interviews mistaking him for Bruce Springsteen, expressed in the track "Bruce" on the album Beautiful Feelings (1984). In 1984, Springfield starred in his own movie Hard to Hold and recorded the majority of the material on the accompanying soundtrack. This soundtrack included his top-ten hit, "Love Somebody" as well as several moderately successful follow-up singles. However, the movie itself was not successful, and the soundtrack's success (though higher than that of the movie) paled in comparison to previous Springfield albums. Nonetheless, Springfield released his next album Tao in 1985, scoring several modest hits from this release, including "State of the Heart" and "Celebrate Youth". That same year, Springfield was one of several performers who participated in the Live Aid charity concert. Around this time, he took a brief hiatus from recording.
Springfield was a judge for the eighth annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists.
In 1978, he played the character of Zac in Saga of a Star World, which was, with some differences, the pilot episode of the original Battlestar Galactica TV series. He also co-starred as "Keith Stewart" in episode 17, season 4 ("Dwarf in a Helium Hat") of The Rockford Files. 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 No. 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 a full-length feature film titled Hard to Hold, and in 1998, he played in the film Legion. Springfield also wrote the soundtrack for Hard To Hold. In 1992, he played the title role in the short-lived ABC series Human Target, based on the DC Comics character of the same name. In 1989, Springfield starred in the film Nick Knight, in which he played an 800-year-old vampire seeking a cure for his condition. The film was later remade as the first two episodes of the series Forever Knight. In 1991, Springfield appeared in the made-for-TV movie Dying to Dance. From 1994 to 1997 he starred in the television series High Tide, that ran for 69 episodes.
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.
Springfield starred in several episodes of the third season of Showtime's Californication. His first appearance was in episode 3 on 11 October 2009, in which he plays a "twisted version of himself"; a "hedonistic Rick Springfield" from the past. Springfield starred in "Ho'ohuli Na'au", an episode of Hawaii Five-0. He played the role of photographer Renny Sinclair. Springfield also starred in "Everything Goes Better With Vampires", an episode of Hot in Cleveland. He played the role of a toll booth worker who pretended to be the famous singer/musician Rick Springfield in an attempt to impress women.
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.
Springfield returned to General Hospital as Dr. Noah Drake in April, 2013.
In October 1984, Springfield married his girlfriend, Barbara Porter, in his family's church in Australia. They had met several years earlier when Springfield was recording Working Class Dog – she was working as the recording studio receptionist. The couple has two children.
In 1985, when his first son was born and after the release of his Tao album, Springfield took a break from his musical career to spend more time with his family, and to deal with the depression that had affected him since his adolescence.
Springfield's autobiography, Late, Late at Night: a Memoir (ISBN 978-1-4391-9115-6), was released in 2010. In October, it peaked at number 13 on The New York Times Best Seller list.
In August 2012, Late, Late at Night was named number 23 of "The 25 Great Rock Memoirs of All Time" by Rolling Stone.
- Beginnings (1972)
- Comic Book Heroes (1973)
- Mission Magic! (1974)
- Wait for Night (1976)
- Working Class Dog (1981)
- Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet (1982)
- Living in Oz (1983)
- Hard to Hold (1984)
- Tao (1985)
- Rock of Life (1988)
- Sahara Snow (1997) with Tim Pierce and Bob Marlette
- Karma (1999)
- Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance (2004)
- The Day After Yesterday (2005)
- Christmas With You (2007)
- Venus in Overdrive (2008)
- My Precious Little One: Lullabies For A New Generation (2009)
- Songs for the End of the World (2012)
Awards and nominations
Springfield is also set to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for his contributions to music.
- Rick Springfield at the Internet Movie Database
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Image from Discogs