It was 1981 and if you turned on the radio or TV you were sure to catch Rick Springfield. He was a double delight of both sight and sound with his pop song “Jesse’s Girl” happening at the same time as his stint on General Hospital portraying hear-throb Dr. Noah Drake. But what seemed like an overnight success actually took a good 15 years of hard work to achieve.
Springfield, born in Australia, was in the pop rock band Zoot before starting out on his solo career with the debut single, “Speak to the Sky,” hitting the top 10 in Australia in 1972 and peaking at No 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. Big changes happened for him when he moved to the U.S. and by 1981 his fifth studio album, Working Class Dog, was released with the No. 1 hit, “Jessie’s Girl” winning him the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. That success was followed by four additional top 10 U.S. hit songs and two U.S. top albums. His 18th album, Automatic, dropped Aug. 4.
As luck would have it in the 1980s, Springfield turned his sights to acting and jumped on the rocket ship that was General Hospital during the golden age of that soap when the Luke and Laura story line was all the rage. He remained on the soap from 1981-1983, then reprised his role over the years. Additional television and film credits followed.
Springfield’s entrepreneurship brought him into the spirits business when he launched Beach Bar Rum with pal Sammy Hagar. Of Hagar and their joint effort, he said, “I recorded his song “I’ve Done Everything for You” and we have the whole music connection so it seemed very organic.”
An endearing sidebar about Springfield is his love of animals, especially dogs. His rescue dog, Ronnie or Lethal Ron, was featured on the cover of his albums Working Class Dog (album cover nominated for a “Best Album Package” Grammy Award 1981) and Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet. He is a great supporter of animal rescue organizations.
Springfield took a break from his jam-packed I Want My 80s Tour, which stops at The Paramount on September 22nd, to chat with the Press.
Rick Springfield’s Interview With The Press
Your home is Malibu but have you spent much time on Long Island?
Yes, my old manager, Brian Doyle, lives on Long Island. He owns The Paramount. Brian is a lovely guy with a big heart and always shows us a great time when we go there. We look forward to playing there. Brian’s got great food at The Paramount. He always puts out a great spread after the show and Huntington is a beautiful town.
Who is with you on your bill at The Paramount?
The Hooters, Paul Young and Tommy Tutone. They’re all great, they all have hits, and it’s a great show!
Why did you start the bit of using a bouquet of flowers as a guitar pick?
That was just an accidental thing. I was playing a solo and a woman was up front trying to push flowers into my hands while I was playing and the thorns were sticking in my hand. So, I grabbed them, bashed them against the guitar and everybody cheered. Then they started bringing roses to the show. Things like that just happen, it’s nothing you would think of.
What was the most unusual mishap that you experienced while performing?
In Japan I started playing the show thinking I was all cool and all the front row was pointing at my crotch. I was going, “Yeah, OK,” but they were pointing out that my zipper was open. I went, “Whoops!” What are you going to do? And I’ve fallen off the stage a few times, nothing drastic. You’ve got to be in shape to be on the road.
Why did you choose to play most of the instruments on your latest album, Automatic?
It was just easier. I started out kind of demoing them and they started turning out good so I just kept doing it. I would write a song and then record it rather than writing a whole bunch of songs and recording them all at once. It helped that process, I didn’t have to call on everybody and say let’s get together again and layering it up like that. My band was kind of pissed off but they’re OK with it now. I have an awesome band. They’re the best band I’ve ever had and they kill the live shows.
You’ve spoken candidly about dealing with depression and you call it “Mr. D.” Is Mr. D with you on this tour?
He’s always here, he’s got his own bunk on the front section but yeah, it’s just something I deal with. When playing, it’s pretty hard to be depressed with a couple thousand people singing along with you. Performing is great. That’s why we’re out here.
You said your philosophy is in your song, “Fake It Till You Make It,” and you reference Norman Vincent Peale. What is your takeaway from Peale’s teachings?
It’s about manifesting, you picture something, put energy towards achieving it and it can happen. When I was 17, I read a book called Think and Grow Rich which is actually not about growing rich as much as it is using the power of seeing a goal, keeping it in the forefront of your mind, and you’ll find a way to that goal. I’m a big believer in that. Automatic can’t just be about God, sex and death, there has to be some meaningful stuff in there. I’ve tried to teach it to my sons. Really the only thing that makes us different from the animals is that we can envision a different future for ourselves.
Were you surprised when you achieved mega success with General Hospital and “Jessie’s Girl” at about the same time?
No, I’ve been ready for it. I’d been imagining it for 15 years and when I hit, I felt, “Well, it took long enough.” The serendipitous joining of General Hospital and Working Class Dog coming out was something you can’t plan. That just happened. It’s the manifestation of putting in the work and believing in it.
I understand you’re big into animal rescue.
I do charity stuff that I believe in. I support Linda Blair’s dog rescue. I support her belief. Kids and dogs are my big things. Dogs are the greatest things on earth. We visit rescue places when we’re on the road and that’s pretty amazing to get that touch, that great animal energy.
You’ve said Linda Blair has saved your life. Could you explain that?
I was a musician playing the Whiskey a Go Go and nothing was really going on. I didn’t have any money. Linda had just come off The Exorcist and she basically kept me alive for one year and a half. That’s when I started acting. We were dating, but she was amazing, very giving, and helped me stay here in the country rather than head back to Australia with my tail between my legs having failed. It all worked out, so I’m returning the favor with the amazing work she does with her dogs, Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, if anyone wants to donate.