I’m fairly sure Rick Springfield ruined my life.
See, at the grand old age of 7 years old, I swore my undying love to him and only him. I’d watch “Tom and Jerry” cartoons with my babysitter after school and would wait in anticipation for the K-Tel album commercials which would show snippets of their highlighted hits, with very, very brief videos (MTV literally started that summer and videos were just beginning to take off).
We would wait to hear those unforgettable chords to “Jessie’s Girl” and swoon over Rick and that picture-perfect teen idol face of his. To me he was the walking definition of tall, dark and handsome. I would literally just stop whatever I was doing to just look at him.(He’s 63 now and still looking fierce. Talk about great genes…)
Springfield dominated the Top 40 charts in the early 1980s, that weird musical period where disco and punk had died in the late 1970s, a new decade had barely started and music was still trying to figure itself out. New Wave had yet to start and the later British invasion with bands like Duran Duran was still a few years off.
Springfield ended up with a Grammy for best male rock vocal AND he also had a the virtue of being a working actor at the same time as having a #1 hit. His day job? He worked on a popular soap opera, “General Hospital” as Dr. Noah Drake.
You know when you see someone who seems to have it all and you just assume they’re happy and later on you find out the whole thing was a ruse? You meet someone and they seem to have found the secret formula to happiness, they seem to have it all effortlessly come to them, without the taint of suffering? That people who have everything must be the happiest people on Earth? You would think that by being a popular actor, a teen heart throb, a string of number one hits on the Billboard charts, an adoring fan base of millions, a Grammy, more money than you know what to do with coming in from all directions and finding the love of your life, that someone in that position would be at the top of their game and be happier than anyone else on God’s good Earth, right?
Behind the hits, behind the dreamy face and public facade, Rick was sinking. There was debilitating depression, something he had suffered from his whole life and then exacerbated by the sudden death of his father on the eve of his success. There was the sex addiction, a means to get out of the depression, the incessant cheating on his wife Barbara. There were constant suicidal thoughts. Finally after the birth of his son, Springfield went missing in action from the music business. His musical career completely disappeared and by the time he tried to get back into the industry, public tastes had completely changed.
That put him into an even deeper hole. With sporadic acting gigs, he was pretty much forgotten as some 1980s relic, like the Rubix Cube or the suits Crockett and Tubbs wore on “Miami Vice”.
Rick credits Buddhism and meditation in bringing him back from the edge of the cliff. He went into therapy, he worked on his marriage, he came clean on his numerous infidelities, he deepened his spiritual life. He wrote a book about it about 2 years ago, called “Late, Late at Night”. He went public on everything (and I mean everything, the book is an uncomfortable read in certain parts). The book hit the New York Times best-sellers list.
These days, there is a documentary about to come out on him called “An Affair of the Heart: Rick Springfield and his Devoted Fans”. He does the 80s nostalgia tours and he has a returning role as a warped version of himself on that excellent TV show “Californication”. He’s still recording and putting on an average of about 100 shows a year. He’s also been “Glee”ed, with the cast of Glee doing a cover of “Jessie’s Girl” on the show recently. He doesn’t take himself to seriously at all anymore and doesn’t expect his fans to either.
I finally saw him last year when he came through Montreal, his first time. It was a charity show and the tiny theatre was far from sold out. In fact, I’d say only half the seats were sold. Most of the audience members were ladies of a certain age who were clearly reliving their teen memories and crushes.
I remember hearing stories about Alice Cooper about when he failed to sell out the Montreal Forum, he sang one song and was so pissed off, left the stage after that in a giant huff. I think Rick could probably teach him a lesson or two on manners.
Rick came out and gave it his all. He could have been playing a stadium, it made no difference. It was an amazing, energetic show. Dude still has it, it’s his love of music and the love of his fans and it shows. A female fan in the front row had her 2 small pre-school kids with her (I’m guessing she couldn’t find a babysitter that night). Rick brought them on stage with him. At one point, he was holding the little girl in his arms and got her singing with him which then led to the entire theatre singing along with them. As I watched him, the only thing that kept coming to me was his incredible warmth and the sense of gratitude he gave off.
Rick had it all and then nearly threw it all away. Maybe the lesson here is that sometimes you nearly have to lose everything before you realize what you really have, that gratitude is a constant state of mind.
And the richest one.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.