Heavy Load: Rick Springfield

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Born in New South Wales, Australia, Rick Springfield is a musician, singer, songwriter, actor and author best known for 1981’s Grammy-winning power-pop hit Jessie’s Girl. This was bookended by playing Dr Noah Drake in the hugely popular US daytime soap General Hospital. Now based in California, the 66-year-old continues to write, record and perform. Springfield’s 18th studio album, Rocket Science, mixes his usual style with what he calls “country elements”.

With your father in the armed forces your childhood was spent on the move. That must have been destabilising.

It was a drag. The only good thing was that we came to live in England when I was young. That was amazing. But always being the new kid at school was something that I hated.

You saw The Beatles play live when you were fourteen. Did they live up to all the hullabaloo?

Oh God, yes. When they came to Australia it was like aliens had landed on the planet. I was screaming just like the girls.

Were you a willing or able student?

No, no. I was awful, and the constant travelling didn’t help. It got worse when I came to England – we were living in Woking – I discovered the guitar. This kid at the school show had a Höfner and he let me hold it. It was my first true love – before girls, even.

As one of the biggest heart-throbs of the seventies, when did you realise you were attractive to the opposite sex?

In England. England was the beginning of everything for me; guitars and girls.

Were you a willing or able student?

No, no. I was awful, and the constant travelling didn’t help. It got worse when I came to England – we were living in Woking – I discovered the guitar. This kid at the school show had a Höfner and he let me hold it. It was my first true love – before girls, even.

As one of the biggest heart-throbs of the seventies, when did you realise you were attractive to the opposite sex?

In England. England was the beginning of everything for me; guitars and girls.

What was your biggest waste of money?

Cars. I have a sixty-three Corvette which I consider a great investment – that’s how I justify it to myself. But the worst was some bullshit Salvador Dali paintings. I bought these prints that turned out completely fake.

Which of your records do you now disown?

Oh, a few of them. In the early seventies I did a cartoon show called Mission: Magic!, and I recorded a lot of teen songs for that. My manager told me about this new craze called streaking, and I wrote this godawful song called Streaking Across The USA. Don’t look for it on YouTube, I hope it’s not there.

Which are the best and worst drugs you’ve tried?

LSD was the best and the worst. I’d had great experiences, and then I OD’d and it was so horrible. I thought I was going to die. I’ve never taken it since. Which is a shame, as up until then I thought it was frickin’ awesome.

You wrote a song with Dave Grohl for the Sound City soundtrack and also went on the road with him. Can you tell us a secret about him?

He has a very small penis.

Really?

No. Everything you’ve read about Dave is true – he’s an Ohio boy who loves his music. I’ve nothing bad to say about him. And I’ve never actually seen his penis.

You appeared as the creepy Dr Irving Pitlor in the HBO drama True Detective last summer. What is it with you and medical roles?

I didn’t think of Doctor Pitlor as a doctor, more of a businessman. I’ve played more musicians than doctors anyway. I still think there’s a great movie role out there for me.

A future James Bond, maybe?

In the early eighties they actually looked at me as a possibility – after Roger Moore, I think. Could I still do it? Yeah, absolutely.

What can Rick Springfield do that nobody else can?

I can pick out a fake Egyptian artefact. I’ve been a huge Egyptologist since I saw the Tutankhamun exhibition at the British Museum as a kid.

When was the last time you cried?

A couple of days ago, thinking about my dog that died. Crying always comes easily to me in acting roles, which has been a benefit.

You’ve battled with depression. What brings you out of that slump?

Three things. First, having sex; in the seven seconds after you orgasm it’s impossible to be depressed. Secondly, meditation. And thirdly, writing a song and being creative.

What is the meaning of life?

In 2014 I wrote a novel called Magnificent Vibration that touched upon all of that stuff. Why are we here? What is love? Does God send text messages?…

So do you believe in God or some kind of all-seeing being?

I’ve read a lot about that, and there really has to be a greater power than us. I believe that when you write a great song or paint a great work of art, you are channelling something that comes through you.

What will be written on your tombstone?

‘What a dick’.

Classic Rock 220: News & Regulars