“Jessie is a friend/Yeah, I know he’s been a good friend of mine/but lately something’s changed/it ain’t hard to define/Jessie’s got himself a girl/and I want to make her mine.”
We know the song by heart. And, after reading Rick Springfield’s memoir, “Late, Late At Night”, one of the main things I came away with is that he wants you to know that while “Jessie’s Girl” changed his life, he had many other big hits after that signature song from 1982.
His 336-page memoir was released in 2010 and made it all the way up to #13 on The New York Times best seller list and I just got around to reading it. But, not everyone loved the book.
Here’s the headline from the review in “Entertainment Weekly”.
While that may be a little harsh, to the uninitiated or the prudish, there might be a little truth to it.
I won’t give away all of the juicy details from the book because it’s definitely worth reading. However, you’ll want to go into it with an open mind.
If you’re a Rick Springfield fan, you know he’s Australian. While I’ve always wanted to visit “Down Under”, after seeing “The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” and reading this book, I would definitely only visit the larger cities and not the outback!
Just hearing Rick talk about all of the poisonous creatures and plants in nature and the sharks, no thanks.
Rick and his family traveled and moved around a lot in his childhood and not just in Australia. They also moved to England and then back to their home country.
As a child, Rick was awkward with girls and obsessed over losing his virginity. He also lacked self-confidence and that was a factor that led to his life long struggles with his “Darkness” — depression.
It also led to a suicide attempt when he was 17. His love for music and pursing it helped bring him past that failed attempt.
Rick joined several band before making it big in the early 1980s. One of those bands was called Zoot and, early on, pink was their signature color!
After leaving the band around 1970, it wasn’t too long before he scored his first solo hit, “Speak To The Sky”. It reached #14 in the U.S. in 1972 after already reaching the Top Ten in Australia and Canada the year before. But, long-term success wasn’t meant to be this time around. It would take Rick another ten years for “Jessie’s Girl” to propel him to super stardom.
This was rough on Springfield, who had joined a cover band to make ends meet. He also pursued his acting career and got many small roles, but his biggest television success came in 1981 on ABC’s “General Hospital” as Dr. Noah Drake.
From his tour of Vietnam in a band as a teenager in the late-1960s through the 1970s and early-1980s, Rick lived up to the “rock star” image of backstage hook-ups and he hides nothing in the book about his numerous sexual conquests — some days he scored with multiple partners.
In early 1981, the album that would propel him to the stratosphere, “Working Class Dog”, was released and featured his adorable bull terrier, Lethal Ronnie, on the cover.
It would sell more than a million copies and earn Rick his first #1 hit and Grammy Award (Best Rock Male Performance) with “Jessie’s Girl”.
“I’ve Done Everything For You” also hit the Top Ten (#8) and “Love Is Alright Tonight” peaked at #20. It’s still one of my favorite Rick songs.
While making that album, he met a receptionist, Barbara Porter, at the recording studio and she would become his wife in October 1984.
This year, the couple, who are the parents of two sons, Liam and Joshua Springthorpe (Rick’s real last name), will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
Before this turns into a greatest hits compilation of my favorite Rick Springfield videos, I want to talk more about the book.
There is a similarity in “Late, Late At Night” and Belinda Carlisle’s “Lips Unsealed” that I read and blogged about earlier this year.
In that book, Belinda wrote extensively about her drug use and it got to the point where it seemed that she was glorifying the abuse. However, it sounded that way because she was being brutally honest about using drugs and the repeated setbacks she encountered en route to becoming clean.
While Rick admits in the book to using drugs and abusing alcohol, it was his addiction to sex and infidelity that prompts the reader (and I’m speaking of me right now) to think, “are you really even trying to be faithful?”
Reading the book, I wondered why Barbara put up with his cheating for all of those years. While I thought that, I never really passed enough judgement to call Rick a “pig” or Barbara “weak” because I’m not in their shoes.
In our past relationships, many of us have been with an unfaithful partner. Or, we may have been the unfaithful one.
While reading the book and thinking of their relationship and the unfaithful incidents, Rick addresses that point-blank on page 277 when he states, “I’d also like to address those perfect souls who are reading this and saying to themselves, ‘Why is this masochistic woman putting up with this asshole?’ I’m happy that your life is so unruptured that you can make such a distant judgement call , so I’ll address the humans in the audience.”
That personifies who Rick is and says a lot about the tone of the book.
He’s honest, crazy, and funny. His style of writing made me smile and shake my head many times throughout the book even as he talked about heavy topics like infidelity, depression, love, and whatever else crossed his mind.
I’m glad that he and Barbara are still together and there for each other through everything life has dealt them and I’m glad Rick is still making music and touring.
I had the pleasure of seeing him in concert last year in the Quad Cities and it was an incredible show.
My sister and two cousins saw him in concert back in his musical heyday in the 1980s, but I bet they weren’t this close to him! 🙂
In his career, Rick charted 17 Top 40 songs (all but “Speak To The Sky” were from 1981-1986).
Of those hits, five reached the Top Ten: the aforementioned “Jessie’s Girl (1981) and “I’ve Done Everything For You” (1981), “Don’t Talk To Strangers” (1982), “Affair of The Heart” (1983), and “Love Somebody” (1984).
That song, “Love Somebody” is from his 1985 motion picture debut, “Hard To Hold”. From just reading the book, it sounds like he’d like to forget it! I bought the DVD after I saw him in concert, but I still haven’t watched it. Maybe I’ll do it this weekend!
As I stated in my blog last year after my first Rick Springfield concert, the “Living In Oz” album cover is still my favorite Rick Springfield picture over the past three decades and trust me, I had many to choose from!
And, since Rick was so honest in the book about drugs, alcohol, depression, infidelity, sex, his penis, and cute guys hitting on him (I’m sure there were ugly ones, too, but I can see why he wouldn’t pontificate too much on that), I admit that I had a super crush on him and after reading the book, I wish that I had been one of those guys back in the 1980s. 🙂
We all have our faults and Rick laid his out in “Late, Late At Night”. There is no doubt, whatsoever, how much he loves his wife, Barbara, his two sons, his mother and his late father.
And, it warmed my heart when Rick talked about how much he loves dogs. From Elvis, his first dog in Australia, to the many that have come and gone afterwards, you have to love a man who thinks the world of his dogs. “Ronnie” was featured on the covers of his platinum albums, “Working Class Dog” and “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet”.
And, here’s Gomer, who has joined Ronnie in “puppy heaven”.
Rick, thank you for sharing your private thoughts about your life in “Late, Late At Night” and most of all, thank you for music over the past 40 years.
While it only reached #21, here’s my favorite Rick Springfield song, “What Kind of Fool Am I?”
And, here’s Rick live from the Quad Cities in 2013 with his signature song, “Jessie’s Girl”.
Rock on, Rick!
His new novel, “Magnificent Vibration” comes out in early May.
If you’re a Rick Springfield fan, here’s my blog from last May after his concert in the Quad Cities: