The double life of Rick Springfield

Maybe you remember him for his hit ‘Jessie’s Girl’, or maybe it’s as Dr Drake he caught your eye – however you remember Rick Springfield, he’s back and more himself than ever

A rocker damned with the pop idol tag, the Aussie musician has spent a lifetime working to solidify his rock ‘n’ roll cred.

“It was both a blessing and a curse,” muses Rick Springfield. Although he is speaking specifically of his 1980s starring role as Dr Noah Drake, on the US daytime TV series ‘General Hospital’, Springfield could be talking about any number of things that have happened throughout his long career in music.

Springfield was already a successful musician in his native Australia when he struck out for California in the ‘70s. He has always viewed himself first and foremost as a musician, but back then he needed to take the acting gigs to supply money to feed his music habit.

‘Jesse’s’ Girl and ‘General Hospital’ helped each other, so it was okay that they sort of happened at the same time,” he told The Copenhagen Post last week.

Yeah, ‘Jesse’s Girl’. That one. Whether it was on the radio in ‘81, ‘Boogie Nights’ in ’97 or ‘Californication’ in ‘09, there is no getting away from that damn song. 

Over 25 million albums sold and 17 top-40 hits later, mention Rick Springfield and the first thing most people think of, when the realisation of who he is finally dawns, is his Grammy award winner. Thankfully, it is still a very cool song and Springfield the songwriter had to smile when he hit on that ‘moot’ and ‘cute’ rhyme.

For all of his accomplishments as an actor, author and documentary subject, Springfield has always insisted that his first love is music, a passion he’s harboured since first picking up the guitar at the age of 12.

“I had to prove that I wasn’t just some actor that a producer took into the studio to make a one-off record,” said Springfield. “People come to see the live show and say, ‘I didn’t know you could play guitar like that,” he said.

For a rocker that struggled to convince a cynical music industry of the validity of his power-pop/new-wave tinged music while his face was being plastered across teen magazines the world over, Springfield remains able to take his music seriously without taking the trappings of fame too seriously.

“A lot of the teenybopper stuff has fallen by the wayside simply due to attrition over the years, and the music business itself has changed a lot,” he said.

Still razor thin and matinee idol handsome as he moves into his sixth decade, Springfield is capable of the kind of self-effacement that allowed him to poke fun at himself by putting his dog on the cover of Working Class Dog or spoof his pretty boy image by playing a sleazy, drug-and-sex-crazed version of himself in ‘Californication’.  

No less of a revered rock icon than the Foo Fighter’s Dave Grohl takes Rick Springfield very seriously. Grohl made him one of the mainstays of his Sound City Players project, and their collaboration on the song ‘The Man that Never Was’ introduced Springfield to a whole new audience.

Springfield is bringing his guitar-driven pop rock to Amager Bio on Wednesday, June 5 in support of his new release entitled Songs for the End of the World.

“I put a lot of thought and energy into making records,” he said. “I’d like to continue changing people’s minds about me.”

Springfield still does over a hundred shows a year. Of course he plays all of the hits, but he also wants people to see the nuances of his work and personality.

“I’m not the shiny, happy guy people think I am,” he insists. “I have a way of beating myself up over things I’ve done. I tend to put that angst into my music.”

Songs on the new release range from the vintage three-chord rock of ‘I Hate Myself’ to the wickedly funny ‘Love Screws Me Up’.

“I take what’s happening to me and place it in a universal perspective, which is what I’ve always tried to do with my song-writing,” he said.

Honest about his lifelong struggle with depression, Springfield sets his songs about relationships against a backdrop of the apocalyptic world we live in, looking for a ray of hope in the midst of the turmoil.

“The darker side of my nature creeps in and out, but so does a degree of optimism,” he said. “In the end, I believe that solace and healing can be found in the presence of someone who understands, loves and accepts you for who you are, even while these looming threats remain.”

Rick Springfield 

Wednesday, June 5; Doors open 20:00; Amager Bio; Tickets: 292kr

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