Posted on Mon, Apr. 27, 2009
After keeping a low profile for a while, Rick Springfield is ready to get back into music, TV
By LUAINE LEEMcClatchy-Tribune News Service
MALIBU, Calif. – Actor-musician Rick Springfield was a teen idol in the ’80s with his mega-ton hit, „Jessie’s Girl“ and his brooding good looks. Though girls were blasting him with phone numbers and record companies were beating on his door, Springfield always had other ideas.
„I left my managers in 1974. They were pushing me toward the teen thing, and I wasn’t really writing teen music,“ the Aussie-born Springfield says, seated at an outdoor table of a cafe here.
„I saw that wasn’t going to work. So I called them up and said, ‚I’m leaving.‘ And everybody that was connected with them, who were my friends at the time, just bailed. I was suddenly, truly, all on my own here in L.A. with no money. And one of them was suing me for a quarter of a million dollars, which I didn’t have, and that was the hardest time,“ he says, the sounds of the waves whispering across the roadway.
„I thought about A: going home, B: committing suicide, or C: sticking it out. And I chose C, which was the better choice of any of them. But it was really hard. I had no money and was going through my piggy bank to pull out quarters so I could go buy Swanson’s TV dinners so I could eat at night. I was behind in my rent. Luckily I had some money in Australia that I’d earned over there. My parents sent that out. So things came when I needed them.“
With a Grammy for „Jessie’s Girl,“ a popular role on a soap opera, magazine covers and hungry paparazzi, fame hit Springfield like a tsunami. But life intruded on that transitory glory and changed him forever.
His father, a lieutenant colonel in the British Army, died. „My dad died twice. His heart stopped and they brought him back to life and he lived for another 12 years. But the first time he died I was 21, and it changed my songwriting. I began writing about things that actually happened to me rather than imagined relationships with women. And it was a big (shift) understanding that the stuff that happened to me, that I knew about, was going to be more interesting to write about than some made-up story about some girl that I thought I wanted.“
His father died for real just as Springfield was hitting it big. „I was in a spiral losing him,“ recalls Springfield, who’s wearing a navy blue cotton shirt, Levi’s and a black Pleather jacket.
„It deepened me as a person, as that kind of stuff will. That was a continual theme – and has continued to be a theme – me losing him. I didn’t deal with it for a long time and it got me into a depression, and it was really a long lasting thing. I didn’t just deal with it and move on. I pushed it aside because so much was happening in my life at the time. So it came out years later, when my kids were born – which was the next big change.“
When his boys, Liam, 23, and Josh, 20, were born, Springfield was so moved he composed a collection of lullabies. „I wrote them as a kind of celebration of them being born. I had so much going on inside of me when they were born, the way I deal with that is to write about it. So I wrote some songs, and they sat in drawer all this time, and I just found them again this last year and liked them enough to re-record them and think of releasing them.“
The album, „My Precious Little One,“ will be available in stores May 5. Before that it can be purchased on Amazon.com.
„It’s super personal to me,“ he continues, „because I didn’t write them with anything in mind other than having my kids hear them as babies. That’s why I never thought of putting them out before, that and having a bit of distance and then hearing them again and liking what I heard.“
Springfield, 59, is revving up his career again. „I’ve always been hungry. I’m a very driven person so there’s a lot of things I want to do with my writing. I’m still recording. I just built a studio in my house, just had a Christmas record out and a studio album that was out last year, so I’m very passionate about writing and getting new stuff out there so there’s always new challenges for me. I want to get back into TV and start acting more, and have been going to classes again to get things moving again, touring a lot. Especially now that the kids aren’t home, there’s a lot of time.“
Springfield says he underwent therapy for five years to help him cope with the loss of his dad and the fickleness of fame. „Deep, intense therapy,“ he shakes his dark, curly hair. „That helped. It doesn’t cure it because I don’t think you cure anything like that. You just learn the demons that are chasing you, you learn to recognize them so that you’re not pushed arbitrarily without any consciousness. You start understanding why you feel like that. And then you can make a shift.“
Raised a Catholic, Springfield says „All my changes have been spiritual changes. When my dad died the reason I didn’t deal with it was because I was nowhere near any spiritual path at all. It took me years to find something that I thought was really true and I thought that was the biggest thing that gives you some degree of peace, the spiritual connection knowing that they’re there somewhere.“