Saturday, February 25, 2012

Influences #1 - Rick Springfield

I have had so many influences that have inspired me to write not only books, but songs and poetry as well. It’s really hard to say which of them all made the most impact, but I wanted to share them one by one with all my friends, fans and followers.

The first one I am going to talk about is the working class dog himself -

                     RICK SPRINGFIELD.

Born in Australia as Richard Lewis Springthorpe on August 23rd, 1949, he changed his name at a time when it was quite common to do so in the 70’s for showmanship purposes. It was the entertainment industry’s opinion that Springfield was sexier than Springthorpe.

Getting his first gig as a member of the band ZOOT, Rick Springfield soon gained the reputation of being the shy guy, often playing on stage with his back to the audience.

Signed to a record deal in 1972, his first release “Beginnings” featured his first top 40 hit, “Speak to the sky”. He then went on to release “Comic Book Heroes” which fizzled with both critics and mainstream. His short lived animation series, “Mission Magic” also fizzled after just one season.

He then began making appearances on several popular 70’s sitcoms, or as he would put it, “Whoring himself out as an actor to support my music addiction.” which also include hit TV shows like “Wonder Woman” , “The Six Million Dollar Man”, “The Rockford Files” and “The Incredible Hulk”.

Also during this time, he would record and release the album, “Wait For Night” to little or no attention. He also made appearances on such variety shows like “Sonny and Cher”.

It wasn’t until 1980 when he secured a record deal with RCA and made his debut on the famous hit soap opera called “General Hospital” as the dashing and charming Dr. Noah Drake did Rick Springfield finally hit pay dirt and super-stardom with the hit single “Jessie’s Girl” (His signature song) off his “Working Class Dog” album which also features the song, “I’ve Done Everything For You” written by Sammy Hagar, the ex Van Halen front man, replacing David Lee Roth in the 80’s.

In 1982, his album, “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” was released and so was his second signature song, “Don’t Talk To Strangers”. Followed by his 1983 release, “Living In Oz”, which features the hits “Human Touch” and “Affair Of The Heart” (My personal favorite) as well as “Souls”. (I also like the song “I Can’t Stop Hurting You” off that album)

In 1984, he took his stab at acting with the world wide release of his move, “Hard To Hold” which also came with the soundtrack. The music was great, edging out hits like, “Bop ‘Till You Drop”, “The Great Lost Art of Conversation”, “Don’t walk Away” and of course, “Love Somebody”. The movie however, didn’t do as well. Rick claims the every human disease of “Vanity” as the main reason for the movie’s failure.

He would go on to continue releasing more music, starting with “Beautiful Feelings”, which produced one mild hit for him called “Bruce” (although, I also liked “Looking For The one” and perhaps my all time favorite, “Spanish Eyes”), “Tao” and “Rock Of Life”.

In the 90’s, he did some made for TV movies, “Dead reckoning” in1990, “A Change Of Place” (1994) and “Dying To dance (1999). He also tried his hand in a TV series called “Human Target” which lasted less than a full season after he had played the character Nick Knight on a made for TV special that led to the now famous television series of the vampire cop working the night shift trying to become mortal again.

Since the new millennium, Rick has gone on to release perhaps his best work. The CD release of “Karma” early on set the tone for his last two, “Venus In Overdrive” and my new all-time favorite CD of his, “Shock, Denial, Anger, Acceptance”.

For me, it was when I heard the song “I Can’t Stop Hurting you” off his “Living In Oz” release did I become a life long fan and he, inspiring me with his song writing.

Man crush? Perhaps, but let’s face it, Rick Springfield owned the 80’s. Or at the very least, co-owned it. And even to this day, his writing continues to influence me just as it did twenty plus years ago.

My seeing him in concert for the first time was only out done by meeting him in person at a friend’s private wedding where he shelled out a ton of money for Rick to fly in and perform. I got to have about 15 minutes with Rick at the bar after his autograph session and right before he headed back out, home to California. No, I am not going to spill the content of that conversation, and yes, that was my moment of Zen.

I also read his book, "Late, Late At Night"

Here’s to you, Rick Springfield, for influencing and inspiring me to write.


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