Maybe you know him from his memoir, Late, Late at Night, or his best-selling novel Magnificent Vibration.
Perhaps you know him for his role as Dr. Drake on General Hospital. Or maybe you were a fan of his appearances on Californication, Drop Dead Diva or Hawaii Five-O
If nothing else, you know Rick Springfield for “Jessie’s Girl,” the mega hit from his 1981 breakthrough album Working Class Dog. It’s one of those songs with an earworm hook that gets stuck in your head. It’s the kind of song you can’t help but sing along to – no matter where you are or what you’re doing.
“It tells a universal story in a fairly interesting way. I think every songwriter hopes for at least one of those,” Springfield says. “It does overshadow new stuff, but, overall, I’m proud to have written the song.”
“Jessie’s Girl” won a Grammy in 1981 for Best Male Rock Vocal. It made him a mainstay on mainstream rock radio, and firmly planted him in pop culture for generations to come. But Springfield is no one hit wonder.
He was slugging it out in the music industry well before “Jessie’s Girl.” “I started in the late 60s,’ recalls Springfield, who first caught the limelight with bands like Zoot, Rock House and Wikedy Wak in his native Australia. “The first recordings I did were on 8-track.”
He saw studios move from 8-track tape to 16-track tape to 24-track tape and then do away with tape and start recording on computers. In 2013, he teamed with Foo Fighters‘ frontman, and rock ‘n’ roll powerhouse, Dave Grohl for the acclaimed film Sound City: Reel to Real, which pays tribute to those bygone analog days. Rick performed “The Man That Never Was,” backed by members of the Foo Fighters and recorded on the legendary Neve console from Sound City Studios
“Writing music can be a solo endeavor, but, at its heart, rock is collaborative,” says Springfield. “Working with Dave and the Foo Fighters was collaboration at its best. Those guys are true musicians: creative, spontaneous, generous, and talented.”
Grohl’s documentary was a huge success in its own right (it won the 2014 Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack), but it provided something of a renaissance for Springfield. Viewers saw Grohl in total fan girl mode during the session with Springfield, and “The Man That Never Was” was considered by the likes of Rolling Stone, People and many others as one of the best performance of the film and one of the best songs on that Grammy-winning soundtrack.
Springfield hit the road with the Sound City Players, playing before TV audiences on The Ellen Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live. He was the guest host for Chelsea Lately. He returned to General Hospital for a special episode. In the summer of 2014 he released his first novel, Magnificent Vibration, which would go on to be a NY Times best seller and earn him comparisons to literary greats like Douglas Adams and Augusten Burroughs.
Carrying on the momentum of the last couple of years, Springfield is poised for another big year in 2015. “I just finished a movie [Ricki and the Flash] with Meryl Streep. I’m doing a couple of episodes of True Detective this season,” he says. “I love to work because I love what I do.”
And he started the year doing what he does best: writing and recording music. “We ended up with 15 new songs,” says Springfield. “I think the new stuff is the best I’ve ever done. All you can do is write the best songs you can write.”
And though a star of his caliber stays very busy, he’s made the time to bring his endearing tunes to fans in northern Indiana. Springfield and his band will be at the Honeywell Center in Wabash at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24. Tickets range from $36 to $125. Visit honeywellcenter.org for more information.