When Rick Springfield wrote the song that would change his life, he had no idea how good it was. “I never thought of it as a potential single,” he said. But that song, Jessie’s Girl, was simply irresistible. Released in 1981, it had a new wave-influenced power-pop dynamic that was perfectly in tune with the times. It had a chorus that stuck like glue. And its wry lyrics, about coveting some other guy’s girlfriend, resonated with millions. Jessie’s Girl went to No.1 in America.
And for Springfield, whose boyish good looks belied his 32 years, it was the breakthrough he had dreamed of since his first solo album was released in the early 70s.
If Jessie’s Girl defined Springfield’s entire career, there were other great songs on the parent album Working Class Dog (8⁄10). Love Is Alright Tonite and I’ve Done Everything For You, the latter track written by Sammy Hagar, both hit the sweet spot between hard rock, pop and new wave. Working Class Dog was the first of four consecutive US million-sellers for Springfield.
By the end of the 80s, however, he was on the slide. His 1988 album Rock Of Life (6⁄10) was a blend of highly polished AOR and big-production art rock reminiscent of Billy Squier circa Signs Of Life. Springfield could still write a tune: the anthem Tear It All Down was proof of that. But after this album stiffed, he didn’t make another for over 10 years. He’d had a good run, which is more than some people ever get.