Rick Springfield was 13 when he learned guitar. He joined various bands in England, where his father was stationed from 1958 to 1963, and several more after returning to Australia.
In 1968, he was approached by bass guitarist Pete Watson to join his group Rockhouse. Later that year, Watson changed the band’s name to MPD Ltd and, in October when Springfield was 19 years old, they toured South Vietnam to entertain Australian troops. Another member of MPD Ltd was Danny Finley (drummer). Upon returning to Australia, they formed Wickedy Wak. They were joined by Phil Blackmore on keyboards and Dick Howard. Go-Set journalist Ian “Molly” Meldrum produced Wickedy Wak’s single, “Billie’s Bikie Boys”, with Beeb Birtles of pop rock group Zoot as a backing vocalist.
In September 1969, Springfield replaced Roger Hicks as lead guitarist and vocalist in Zoot, with Birtles on bass guitar and vocals, Darryl Cotton on lead vocals and guitar, and Rick Brewer on drums. Upon joining Zoot, Springfield adopted the “Think Pink – Think Zoot” theme that had the band members dressed head to toe in pink satin. The publicity gimmick brought attention to the group and attracted numerous teenage girl fans; however it caused problems in establishing their credibility as serious rock musicians. Zoot’s fifth single, “Hey Pinky”, was written by Springfield. The group attempted to shake off their teeny-bopper image. They followed with a hard rock cover version of The Beatles’ hit “Eleanor Rigby”, which peaked at No. 4 on Go-Set’s Top 40 in March 1971. Despite another hit single with “Freak” in April, which was written by Springfield, the band broke up in May.
Springfield signed with Sparmac Records and issued his début solo single, “Speak to the Sky”, in October, which peaked at No. 5 on the Go-Set singles chart. Sparmac label owner, Robie Porter, was also producer and manager for Springfield. After recording his début album, Beginnings, in London, Springfield moved to the United States in mid-1972. Springfield provided all the songwriting, lead vocals, guitar, keyboard and banjo for the album. “Speak to the Sky” was issued in the US by Capitol Records and peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September. His début album, Beginnings, was the first of seven top 40 albums on the related Billboard 200. However, follow-up success was hampered by rumours that Capitol Records paid people to purchase Springfield’s albums, which led to some radio stations boycotting his music.
In 1973, Springfield signed to Columbia Records and recorded his second album, Comic Book Heroes, which was also produced by Porter. In Australia, released on Porter’s new label, Wizard Records, the album and its two singles failed to chart. Springfield was promoted as a teeny pop idol similar to David Cassidy and Donny Osmond. Springfield spoke of the teenybopper image in Circus Magazine in 1973. He said he was not sure how it happened. “Someone saw my photo and that was it.” He went on to say that someone asked to take a photo of him in a white suit and thought that it was “a bit dull”, so he took some crayons and “scrawled an R with a lightning bolt going through it … which became my emblem.”
From September 1972 to September 1973, Springfield starred as “himself” in the ABC-TV Saturday morning cartoon series Mission: Magic!, for which he usually wrote and performed an original song in each episode. In 1974, he issued an Australia-only album, Mission: Magic!, which was “full of infectious bubblegum pop songs”. His single, “Take a Hand”, reached the US top 50 in 1976. The single was taken from the album Wait for Night, which was issued by his new label, Chelsea Records. Soon after its release, the record company folded. During the late 1970s, he concentrated more on his acting career, guest-starring in several primetime TV dramas.
Springfield continued to write and record and, in 1981, released his next album, Working Class Dog. The album spawned the single “Jessie’s Girl”, a worldwide hit which peaked at No. 1 for two weeks in the US on the Hot 100 and the Australian Kent Music Report singles chart. 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 the Sammy Hagar-penned “I’ve Done Everything for You”. He had further success with the follow-up albums Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet (1982) and Living in Oz (1983).
Springfield was frustrated with people in interviews mistaking him for Bruce Springsteen, expressed in the track “Bruce” on the album Beautiful Feelings (1984). In 1984, Springfield starred in his own movie, Hard to Hold, and recorded the majority of the material on the accompanying soundtrack. The soundtrack included a top-ten hit, “Love Somebody”, as well as several moderately successful follow-up singles. However, the movie itself was not successful, and the soundtrack’s success (though higher than that of the movie) paled in comparison to previous Springfield albums. Nonetheless, Springfield released his next album Tao in 1985, scoring several modest hits from this release, including “State of the Heart” and “Celebrate Youth”. That same year, Springfield was one of several performers who participated in the Live Aid charity concert. Around this time, he took a brief hiatus from recording.
Rick Springfield was a judge for the eighth annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists.
RCA Records 1985
Living In Oz
RCA Records 1983
Success Hasn´t Spoiled Me Yet
RCA Records 1982
Working Class Dog
RCA Records 1980