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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A pop star who never lost his human touch revisits ‘Jessie’s Girl’

Rick Springfield will perform at Northern Quest Resort & Casino on Friday night. (Bryan Steffy)
By Ed Condran The Spokesman-Review

Not long after “Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen’s exceptional memoir that was published in 2016, the rock icon was lauded for revealing that he has suffered from depression his entire life.

Rick Springfield admitted to being hampered by the same condition with his engrossing and revelatory biography “Late, Late at Night” in 2010.

Springfield, 74, detailed the ups and downs of a fascinating career throughout his memoir. “Depression has been something that I’ve had to deal with my entire life,” Springfield said while calling from Aurora, Illinois. “The lie of success is that it will fix what’s broken inside. Depression doesn’t go away if you become a big star.

But depression is just one of many things I’ve had to deal with. It’s not that I’m complaining but it’s been a fascinating career.”

A half-century has passed since Springfield moved from Australia to Los Angeles. Success was immediate but the problem for Springfield is that it had nothing to do with his music. Springfield became a sensation since he was featured in an array of teen magazines in 1973.

“I’ve had to battle the teen thing all my life,” Springfield said. “Yes, it’s a double-edged sword but not long after I arrived in America I was on the cover of these teen magazines and there were these stupid articles, which were like, ‘Cuddle up in Rick Springfield’s arms!’ I didn’t know what was going on because we didn’t have magazines like that in Australia. I was famous for nothing!”

Record company executives hoped Springfield would deliver innocuous, predictable pop songs like those crafted by teen idols of the day. “People thought I would be the next David Cassidy but that’s the last thing I wanted to be,” Springfield said. “When I wrote songs the record company wanted to know where ( a song like the Partridge Family’s) ‘Doesn’t Somebody Want to be Wanted’ was. I wasn’t going to write songs like that.”

Springfield agreed to star as himself in 1973’s ABC-TV Saturday morning cartoon series “Mission: Magic!” for which he wrote original material. “Years ago I ran into (writer-director) Quentin Tarentino and he said, ‘ “Mission: Magic!” – I love that show!’ But I didn’t feel that way. It was just a network xeroxed piece of crap.”

Eight years later Springfield hit the entertainment stratosphere. After appearing in such network hit television series as “The Six-Million Dollar Man,” “The Rockford Files” and “Battlestar Galactica,” Springfield landed the role of Dr. Noah Drake on the ABC soap “General Hospital” in 1981 and became a mega-star. Later that year Springfield experienced mind-boggling success after the release of his album “Working Class Dog” dropped.

The initial single “Jessie’s Girl” hit the top of the US pop charts. 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 “I’ve Done Everything For You.”

Like “Working Class Dog,” the follow-up albums, 1982’s “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” and 1983’s “Living in Oz” went platinum. Somehow Springfield toured behind the albums and remained committed to “General Hospital.”

“It was an incredible time,” Springfield said. “It was exhausting but it was an experience that was beyond my wildest dreams.”

More than a generation has passed since Springfield was at the top of the charts but fans can count on him to play the hits from his pop peak, such as “Human Touch,” “I Get Excited” and of course, “Jessie’s Girl,” when he performs Friday at Northern Quest Resort & Casino.

“I love playing those songs,” Springfield said. “I have no problem going back.”

Springfield has released 17 albums since “Living in Oz” and has acted in a number of films and television shows. Springfield particularly enjoyed acting with Meryl Streep in the 2015 film “Ricki and the Flash” and in the Showtime series “Californication.”

“Working with Meryl Streep was such a career highlight,” Springfield said. “She’s not only an amazing actress but she’s a really great person. We had so much fun working on that movie. Meryl would love it when I brought out the guitar when we weren’t shooting.”

Streep requested songs from her favorite band of all time. “Meryl is a huge Beatles fan,” Springfield said. “Meryl was at the Shea Stadium concert. It was great learning so much from her. I learned to be brave as an actor since no one is as brave as Meryl Streep.”

Springfield laughed about playing himself on “Californication.” “It was fun playing a perverted version of myself on that show,” Springfield said. “It’s funny since ‘Working Class Dog’ is all about sex but as I got older I started writing about more significant things. It’s been a great career that is continuing.”

“Automatic,” Springfield’s latest album, which was released last month, will be showcased when he embarks on a solo tour.

“I’m having such a great time with what I’m doing now on this tour,” Springfield said. “It’s such a great lineup with the Hooters, Paul Young and Tommy Tutone. It’s a look back at the ‘80s, which was such a great time. I get why people want to hear the songs from that era again.”