Rick Springfield Biography
Last updated: 03/26/2013 12:06:04 PM
Are you sitting comfortably?
Then I'll begin........
It all started in a little town called Merrylands, in the backwoods of outer Sydney in the Great Southern Land of Australia during the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and something. ("Hey how old is this guy anyway??")
Actually it was August the 23rd to be exact (birthday presents are a good thing). No sooner is the young lad (Richard Lewis) born than his father, (Norman James) being a member of the Australian Armed Forces is shipped off to Melbourne (that great southern city) taking young Ricky, his brother Michael (he's 3 years older, but you didn't hear that from me) and their mo Eileen Louise.
Once there, our young man involves himself in the usual kid-stuff: dressing up in a gorilla suit and trying to scare passing motorists claiming he's a doctor and dressing his young friends wounds with soap and bandaids, for a small fee (that is until his mom makes him give all the money back), getting beaten up, moving to a new town, getting beaten up some more, moving a 3rd time (not an unusual thing for an Army brat)..... and, what a surprise, getting beaten up again. Then lo and behold..........moving again!!
This time to merry old England, where I might add, the Australians were beating the bejesus out of the English in the international game of Cricket (a slow but enthralling game, not unlike Baseball on Valium). And what happens to a 10 year old Australian kid stepping onto an English school playground at this momentous time in sports history? that's right...he gets beaten up.
Okay, so it wasn't all pain and suffering, after all it was in England that our young man finally discovers music and girls. He is at last feeling one with the universe as music and hormones begin their headlong rush up and down his young system when....yes...he moves again!
This time back home to Oz. (Australia, not the Dorothy and Toto place). More beatings follow. But on his 13th birthday he gets his first guitar (a less than impressive $5.00 little, acoustic number from Woolworths) which he promptly saws lengthways in half and paints bright red, trying, fairly unsuccessfully, to make it look like the electric guitar he REALLY wanted.
So it goes on, more moves, more beatings (don't ever let your dad join the Australian Army) and fortunately for Ricky, more guitars. Unfortunately for his very mobile parents however, the young lad's school work has begun to suffer from neglect. There is no longer any room in his spinning head for such things as the amount of annual rainfall in Mozambique, nor the square root of 2(X-Y). Certainly not once there are teenage hormones, dreams of guitar-god grandeur and the odd wet dream racing through his body. School attendance begins to plummet (DO NOT show this to his kids).
After a time, well a few times anyway, young Rick is asked, by principal Potter, if he wouldn't mind leaving school, as he appears to be hell bent on living over a warm grate in the middle of the inner city and eating out of trash cans. Fortunately (and this happens quite a lot in the lad's life) someone steps up and says " Don't throw him away. I'll take him".
It's Pete Watson. A professional rock musician with a band that actually works nights. The non-working band Rick is currently in, threatens to break his legs if he leaves them. Our young lad looks them straight in the eye, draws himself up to his full height (6'2" 143lbs! - the boy just couldn't keep weight on in those days), puffs out his ribcage (no real chest yet to speak of) and concedes, OK, I'll stay". But a brave crew member (actually just one of the guys who hangs around the band) steps up and tells Ricky to follow his dream and that he will make sure the band doesn't beat the crap out of him. And since this guy has just been released from prison for the 2nd time and is the meanest, gnarliest, toughest human being any of these young dudes have ever met, the non-working band members back off.....and our lad bails.
The good news is he's now in a working band. The bad news is, that band is now working in Vietnam (1969) playing for the American troops up and down the country and getting shot at, rocketed on and mortared and generally stepping into harms way on a fairly regular basis. Don't even mention the attack helicopter mission they go on as 'guests' of a gonzo pilot or the night they all stay over at a firebase near Marble Mountain, just outside Da Nang and almost get over run by a company of Viet Cong. Or the drugs or the hookers or the black market trading in cigarettes just so they could get enough money to eat (Definitely DO NOT let his kids read this!!!!) Let's move on.
So he heads back to Australia, a little older, a little wiser (*Note: Do not play any place there's a war going on!), a little shell shocked. His mom notices a frightened look about her son who jumps when a car backfires on the way home from the airport.
Now back home he joins a band called Wickedy Wak (what were they thinking?) and actually takes on the duties of lead vocalist as they record their first single. The band immediately splits up when the bass player gets bent out of shape that he didn't sing the song, and the single is never released (probably the wisest choice).
In comes yet another band, this one calling itself Zoot (don't ask) and tells young Rick that he is mighty and that they have a recording contract already and if he signs on with them, they promise their records will definitely be released. Ricky signs.
Several hits go by (most notable is a metal version of 'Eleanor Rigby' (you'd really need to hear it) arranged by our young Rick) and the boys become quite famous down under. So they do what any enterprising band would do in a similar situation...they split up!
Since he has begun writing songs in this band, our boy decides to have a go at recording all by himself. He releases a single in Australia called "Speak to the Sky" and wonder of wonders... it's a hit! This leads to a record deal with Capitol records over in the US of A and our hero sprouts wings and flies to Los Angeles. (The move-oriented beatings have pretty much subsided by this time.) Then it's on to London to record his first SOLO (ta da da da da!!!) album. Recorded at Trident studios in swinging London with Robin Geoffrey Cable (who'd just finished 'Madman Across the Water') in the engineers seat and Del Newman (Cat Stevens arranger) conducting the strings. It looks like things are going really, really well. (*Note: When things look like they're going really, really well, that might not necessarily be the case.)
So 'Beginnings' (1972) the album and the all new version of 'Speak to the Sky' is released in America and promptly hits the top 10! And then........ nothing. The remedy is obvious. Switch record companies. And along comes album Number 2, "Comic Book Heroes', (1973) recorded again in London with a staggering array of fine musicians.... and.....nothing. Not even a top ten single this time. Damn it! The solution? The record company screwed up. Leave. So he does.
Next begins the sad and weepy part of the story. Young (well, not as young as he used to be) Rick is cut adrift in LA for the first time. No friends, no casual business acquaintances, no bank-account-draining lawyers, no bank account, not even a sycophant to call his own. And flat broke! (Maybe his high school principal was psychic). A year or two of drifting and living off quarters he'd stored in a piggy bank in the shape of Goofy's head (that should have been a clue!), and our hero is thinking of calling it quits and heading back to Oz ( not the Dorothy and Toto...oh, right, that's already been established).
A chance meeting (remember, this happens a lot) with the ex-wife of an ex-friend leads Ricky to an acting workshop, and in the company of actors our young lad is saved, again. He puts on a small, one-act play, gets signed to the Universal contract players department (last of the great free rides....actually a cool thing where the actor was paid a salary and the company, Universal, worked him or her as much as they wanted). Ricky gets hired to work on such fabled shows as 'The Incredible Hulk', 'Battlestar Gallactica', 'The Rockford Files', '6 Million Dollar Man', 'Nancy Drew' (Nancy Drew?) and so on.
All the while he is writing, getting ready for the next record deal. It comes in 1976. The album 'Wait for Night' is released. The single 'Take a Hand' hits the top 40. The lights come up. The crowd cheers. The record company folds. The album drops dead. Damn it!
Ok, time to move (beatings are a distant memory) out of LA and into the suburbs where Ricky rents a pink house and starts writing again (1978). One day he meets a strange, homeless black and white pit-bull-mix dog who says to Ricky (years of vegetarianism can do strange things to the brain) "If you rescue me, I will make you famous". Our young (getting older by the minute) hero thinks to himself, "You know, this dog would look really good in a button down white shirt and black tie ensemble...Oh my God, what's wrong with me?". And a star is born.
1980 and the songs are finished, the dog (now named 'Lethal Ron') has agreed to be photographed in the less than flattering outfit (provided certain cookie requirements are met) and 'Working Class Dog' arrives. And miracle of miracles, the lad has a bona fide hit on his hands with 'Jessie's Girl'. What follows is a string of hits (up yours principal Potter). "Don't Talk to Strangers", "I've Done Everything for You", "Affair of the Heart", "Love Somebody", "Human Touch", "Love is alright Tonite" and so on. TV stuff and movies ( he still doesn't know what the annual rainfall in Mozambique is and nobody's asking), touring around the world, Grammys and American Music Awards and suddenly.... young (using the term fairly loosely now) Rick feels the need to breed. And a family is born. And a pretty good house-husband too. We'll skip past the really interesting stuff that happened here (honestly, it would take a book) and arrive at... now.