Rick Springfield Talks To Strangers

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Posted October 19, 2010 by Jeff Prince in Blotch

You know him as the 1980s heartthrob and Grammy award-winning rock idol (“Jessie’s Girl,” “Don’t Talk To Strangers,” and 15 other Top 40 hits):

rick-young

You know him as Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital:

noah-drake1

As it turns out, you don’t really know him at all.

But you will after reading Late, Late At Night, his self-penned biography that spans 60 years of growing up in the rough, deadly terrain of Australia, migrating to the even more sinister turf of Los Angeles, and enduring the most apocalyptic territory of all — his own inner psyche.

rick-book

Exposing one’s soft underbelly to the world isn’t always flattering, but Springfield’s personality jumps off the pages in this entertaining romp through a rock star’s scattered life. You’ll respect the guy for his honesty, even if you’re unsure whether you embrace him or not.

The high school dropout ain’t no dummy. Springfield spent years traveling the world, exploring other cultures, battling depression, and devouring self-help, philosophy, religious, and spiritual creeds. He’s cerebral and insightful.

Fortunately for the reader, he’s also funny. One-liners, odd colloquialisms, and self-deprecating humor ease the tension during the book’s morose passages (hey, the guy tried to hang himself, for chrissakes).

Some celebrities write autobiographies as if they are publicists selling their golden sheen to a naive god standing at the pearly gates. (Ever read Geraldo Rivera’s Exposing Myself? Do yourself and favor and don’t.)

But Springfield reveals warts and self-absorption freely. “Actors are the neediest bastards,” he writes, and he proves it again and again. But his honesty makes him more human and, ultimately, more likable.

Eschewing a ghostwriter took guts. Still, Springfield could have benefited from a neurotic editor demanding details, details, details! The writing is vague at times. For instance, his description of meeting Elvis Presley on an airplane was boiled down to, basically, Elvis was a sweet guy. Hmmmm. Not a hunka-hunka lot of info there, pal.

Then again, other chapters are soaked in detail, and this is when the book really shines. His portrayal of growing up in Australia, hating how he looked, dropping out of school, desperately scrambling to lose his virginity, hooking up with a bunch of older thugs in a rock band/crime gang, and becoming a regional celebrity is fascinating.

His writing comes to life as well when describing how his strapping, beloved father becomes totally dependent with the mind of a child after health issues.

And young Springfield’s vivid recollections of touring Vietnam army bases in 1968 with a rock ‘n roll band near the front lines could be adapted into a wild-ass screenplay that a director such as Oliver Stone could work magic with.

rick-1973

Springfield writes in the present tense throughout the book, which requires some acclimation. But it’s not a fatal flaw. All in all, the book reads well.

From humble beginnings, Springfield rose to fame as a teen pop star. Then his star fizzled. At 29, Springfield was playing guitar in the house band at a Glendale, California restaurant, singing cover songs, and facing obscurity. Times were so tough he enrolled in a stained-glass window course, hoping to become a master glassmaker and start a new career.

Instead, he went to class and met a guy named Gary and his girlfriend. Springfield was attracted to Gary’s gal and so he wrote a song. But “Gary’s Girl” didn’t sound right. Springfield just happened to be wearing a Los Angeles Rams’ Ron Jessie T-shirt.

Voila!

Just as Springfield was mounting the “Jessie’s Girl” wave, General Hospital came rolling in and completely swept him out into a sea of adoring women.

The rest is penis-shredding history. Few pretty groupies go untouched in this portrayal of Hollywood and rock ‘n roll excess.

Springfield sampled his share of drugs in the early days, and he reveals a harrowing tale of ingesting too many mushrooms and acid one night. But drugs and booze are minor problems compared to his biggest and most self-defeating vice — paging Dr. Drew! — an inclination to screw most every willing woman.

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Even after marrying a gorgeous woman whom he viewed as his soul mate, having two wonderful sons, raising beloved pets, making a comfortable home, and attaining financial security, he still can’t keep his jeans zipped. Illicit affairs put everything he loves in jeopardy.

The dude has baggage. Naturally, this makes for a fascinating read.

Springfield will meet fans and sign books at 7 p.m. Monday at Barnes & Noble, 7700 W. Northwest Highway, in Dallas.

He’ll do the same at 7 p.m.  Tuesday at Books-A-Million, 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, in Grapevine.

Note to the ladies: Springfield is much better these days at curbing his appetites, so don’t expect much beyond a friendly smile, small talk, and an autograph.

And here’s a heads up — I’m meeting with Springfield next week here at the Fort Worth Weekly office for photos and an interview. I’ll tell you all about it afterward, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, you can watch Springfield play drums on a horse’s ass at Billy Bob’s Texas.


9 Comments


  1.  
    meandering

    Ask Rick how he stays so young looking.




  2.  
    jeff.prince

    Readers: If you think of any questions you’d like me to ask Springfield, let me know and I’ll try to work them in.




  3.  
    zebra calling

    ask him why he sucks




  4.  

    I would like to know if he has made any “connection” recently with a fan that has freaked him out. Basically if he has connected with a fan not physically or sexually,but mentally….per se. Maybe someone that he sees at several of his concerts and if it has affected him in someway? How has it affected him?




  5.  
    Terry

    I am a huge fan of Ricks, have been for 25+ yrs. its not the looks, the talent or the money tthat keeps me as a fan. Its the soulfulness. I cant imagine any “fan” trying to get into his pants when we know he is married and wants to stay that way to B. What kind of psycho tramp do you have to be to knowingly want to screw up someones marriage to someone they love(even if they have stumbled before) that is like offering a cocaine to a drug addict or a shot to an alcholic. I know rick doesnt use the word addict to discribe his problem but its the same thing. What someone like this is a STALKER just trying to get some kind of twisted self celebrity of being the one to try to take down the marriage of a really great couple. To all of those types…GO GET A LIFE ! And to anyone this pisses off you can find me on fb or Ricks website, we can chat.




  6.  

    Great post! Thanks for interjecting some intelligence, respect, and humor into the barrage of reviews.

    Oh goodness, I have SO many questions for him – thanks for opening this up! I’ll just pick one ;-)

    I’d like to know if he found it difficult to do the audiobook. Sometimes it’s easier to write (or perhaps even sing?) our truth than it is to speak it. Given such a brutally honest memoir, how did it feel to read aloud –and record — his own written words?

    (and you can tell him at least one person in Cleveland, Ohio has a ton of respect for him, if you feel so inclined…)




  7.  
    Mary

    Maybe now the normal fans will start stepping up and let the stalker types know that they need back off.




  8.  

    I read the book and found it very, very interesting. Yes, there are things in there that may “shock” the easily shockable but for the most part, much of what is in there is part of the human condition that one will read about re: other high profile people throughout history from King Solomon on down. I like this book a lot because it contain’s Rick’s brand of wicked and self-depreciating humor that I’ve heard at concerts and meet and greets. Re: the “stalker aka wannabe groupie/mistress” fans, they like the poor, will always be with us…but hopefully if they read page 277 very carefully and reaaaal slow, they will hopefully get the message once and for all and back off *sticking out tongue*




  9.  
    jeff.prince

    Springfield visited the Fort Worth Weekly office this afternoon and I’ll be posting a blog tomorrow with a Q&A interview and candid photos.





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