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It was quite a sunny Sunday afternoon in November 2012 when me and my brother went to Amsterdam in order to meet the legendary Australian/American singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardplayer RICK SPRINGFIELD. Rick was there to promote not only his new album ‘Songs for the end of the world’, but was actually doing interviews and promoting his fanbase documentary AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART, which was premiering that same day in Europe, right there in Amsterdam on the IDFA Film Festival. He gave away an acoustic performance after the first screening on Sunday evening and also attended 2 of the screenings in Amsterdam, before heading to more European cities with his YELLOW RICK ROAD crew for the documentary. Personally I discovered his music about 20 years ago when I first heard “Jessie’s girl” on the radio. Sometime later I found his ‘Working class dog’ album and from that day on I was hooked to his music. Without a doubt, that 1981 record of Rick is definitely one of the defining moments in the Powerpop/Melodic Poprockgenre. However, Rick released many more great records throughout the past 4 decades and he is a successful actor and author as well, so enough to talk about in the winter garden of a hotel in the old downtown of Amsterdam.

It’s an honor to meet you, is it your first time in Amsterdam?

No, actually I was here in 1972

 

1972? We weren’t even born back then…

Wow… well this was at the beginning of my American career, around 1971/1972 I came over here and that is the only time I have ever been here.

 

Not much has changed in Amsterdam, it’s all the same,

Well yeah… good. It’s still beautiful…

 

Did you have a safe flight?

Yes, I flew in from L.A. I arrived last night, actually had just spent a week in Cancun, Mexico to perform on a Rock Cruise.

 

Sounds great… well, where to start, you have had such a long career, we never really experienced the whole “Jessie’s girl” thing, but first time I heard the song and then later on the album ‘Working class dog’ I knew, this is the perfect Powerpoprockalbum and perhaps the finest ever created,

Yeah… thanks, hold on, I am going to sit a little closer, because too many music years made me a little deaf…

 

Let’s see… how come you are very popular in America, but you never made it over to Europe, because similar artists like BRYAN ADAMS sell out arena tours in Europe with 15,000 people watching him perform every night…

I have no idea why, in Germany and Scandinavia we played a few times… we did a show like the Nurnburgring/Rock am Ring, but yeah, we never came over here, we stayed in America, I don’t know why, we did certain parts in Europe, but mainly concentrated on the USA...

 

There is quite clearly a difference between the audience in America and in Europe, because in the US you are popular all over the place, while here in Europe it is the Melodic Rock community that knows you quite well… Yeah right.

It started in 1995 with MTM Music and later on ANGELMILK RECORDS, with Andrew, the guy from melodicrock.com right… Yeah

 

And then to FRONTIERS RECORDS, how did that happen?

Over here in Europe yes I am signed to FRONTIERS RECORDS, since the last record we did… I don’t know, we have UNIVERSAL in America, the contact with FRONTIERS RECORDS must have gone through Andrew I guess…

 

The new CD ‘Songs for the end of the world’ is definitely one of your strongest albums in a long time, you managed to combine different elements of the Rock genre with the typical RS hooks/choruses, like the LED ZEPPELINish riffs of MY LAST HEARTBEAT….

Well, we can do whatever we want now and obviously we go for the best ones, heavier or lighter, it’s the song that counts in the end…

 

How can you every time write so easily a catchy song?

I don’t know actually… I just love melodies, as this is the most important thing to me. Most fun is writing the words and really writing something meaningful… this is what I like and I can only write what I like to hear… writing by yourself with nobody else around, just the whole set-up of keyboards, guitar and drums, that is what I like best and perhaps then I am also able to come up with my best material.

 

Where do you get the inspiration from?

Just from my life, you know, what goes on in my life, it is all about my family and my friends, the world and as far as music I don’t know, because it’s just like… when I play it just happens and basically it is how everybody writes… it’s something you hear in your head and you think; that sounds good and that is the way it goes…

 

Any plans for a tour in Europe?

It’s a little difficult, because we haven’t been here for so long, even in Germany and Scandinavia, since like the mid 80s with the Rock am Ring performance and the ‘Rock of Life’ record was successful, but they don’t know what we will do live on stage… we do have a great live show, with a great band… if we ever come over here, we just need to show what we can do and not think about money or anything like that,

 

Yeah, if Bryan Adams can draw 15,000 people, you should be able to do the same, right…

Well, he doesn’t do that in America!

 

It seems like it’s the other way around, in the US they have RICK SPRINGFIELD and in Europe it’s BRYAN ADAMS!

Yeah right…

 

You now have the movie out AFFAIR OF THE HEART, I only saw some snippets with some shots of you at the SWEDEN ROCK FESTIVAL…

LAUGHS, Yeah, that was fun and scary, they have a great sense of humor, because we never played there and you never know what to expect when you play for so many people, especially when they are all drunk and more into Metal, but it turned out to be very successful. I think that would happen all over Europe if we manage to play over here. I think we have such a strong show and I think we eventually would have to do that.

 

I sure hope so, people over here are very open-minded, all kinds of music are appreciated…

A lot of the Metal guys grew up with us, you know, especially during those festivals like Sweden Rock people also like to sing-a-long to our songs, it’s great…

 

Back to the WORKING CLASS DOG record, which KEITH OLSEN co-produced and in an interview I had with him he told me he dragged you out of the mud…

Well, he likes to think that, but I was very fortunate, Keith produced 2 tracks, he didn’t want to do the whole album, so I did the rest of the album, he picked JESSIE’S GIRL, he pulled the song out of my demos and it was great, I am glad he did, because he was really at his peak back then and took the best out of the song. He was very important to me back then, as he did the whole 2nd album, but by the time the third album arrived, we split, as he didn’t like some of the songs like ME AND JOHNNY and TIGER BY THE TAIL, which he didn’t get and then I got BILL DRESCHER back on board to co-produce with me that record.

 

Now how about the Dog… you are quite famous putting a dog on the front cover…

I really had to fight for that, because it was my own dog and I was just on TV on General Hospital and I told the record company I wanted to put my dog on the frontcover of WORKING CLASS DOG, but they were like… what a stupid idea as they wanted to put my face on the cover, so I really fought for that. Then I did the cover and showed them and they thought it was funny, so it was released with the dog on the cover and actually ended up being nominated for a Grammy that year for BEST ALBUM COVER of 1981. That was WORKING CLASS DOG and for the 2nd record in the 1980s, SUCCESS HASN’T SPOILED ME YET, the dog was once again on the frontcover, with 2 other dogs. The shooting of that one was actually quite difficult, because of those 2 other dogs. Those were boy dogs actually and he actually used to fight them, so we had to shoot them separately. We took a picture of my dog and took the other 2 out and then took another picture of the 2 dogs separately and put the pictures together, so it looked like they were sitting all 3 nicely together, but in reality that actually never took place.

 

You actually got the Grammy Award for best male vocal on a song (JESSIE’S GIRL) that year…

Yeah, but I was really happy that the record cover of WORKING CLASS DOG got nominated. That was very fortunate, because I really fought for that. He was my dog and I was very proud of that nomination…

 

Through the 1980s you changed your style a bit…

Yeah, TAO was definitely more synth orientated, but LIVING IN OZ was all guitar based, I was on the road when I wrote that, so yeah, but TAO had a lot of European influences and I perhaps I went a little bit too far in that direction, but it still had some great songs. The production was more European orientated, with the massive synths and that stuff and actually it did really well in Europe, especially in Germany CELEBRATE YOUTH was a hit.

 

A lot of bands are re-recording old songs nowadays, do you ever consider that?

Well, yeah, we are gonna re-do them all, but with JESSIE’S GIRL it’s exactly like the original, but it sounds bigger. So yeah we are definitely going to do that. Stuff from the TAO album for example that sounded more NEW WAVE in the 1980s could be reworked to a more ROCK orientated sound. In America we have CELEBRATE YOUTH sound more Metalish, very heavy guitar…

 

You recently had a few of your 1980s albums re-released on ROCK CANDY RECORDS, how much were you involved in these releases (SHOWS the LIVING IN OZ re-release)?

Over here?

 

Yeah, fully remastered!

REMASTERED?!? Oh I didn’t know that, will check this out…

 

It has all kinds of pictures of you appearing in magazines and such…

Yeah, I remember those days (LOOKS AT THE BRAVO MAGAZINE PICTURES)

 

Besides the music, you also were featured in such magazines due to your acting career, how do you look back at your acting?

Well, it started a little shaky, but it’s getting better now, doing some stuff in America, looking to do to get my own show, that is what I am focusing now regarding the acting, working on my own show.

 

Over here you are not very well-known for your acting in GENERAL HOSPITAL, unlike in the USA…

No, but did you saw CALIFORNICATION over here?

 

I saw some episodes, but not everything is aired over here…

Yeah, TV shows cross over less than music I guess

 

But we did saw HIGH TIDE during the 1990s…

Oh my God!

 

Back to the 1990s, you had a lower music profile during that period, also the Grunge era got in the way, but you did manage to put out a record as SAHARA SNOW thorugh MTM Music…

 Yeah, via MAGNUS SODERKVIST, he really liked that record and wanted to put it out, it was the 3 of us, with TIM PIERCE and BOB MARLETTE as other members, it was a project and we did this release.

 

And the Alternative Rock/Grunge didn’t help either, although you took a bit of the sound in your later solo records right,

Well, actually I just did a song with the FOO FIGHTERS, with DAVE GROHL, who is making a movie documentary on the SOUND CITY studios and we did this song together. THE BAND THAT NEVER WAS is the song and it is not released yet, as Dave is still working on that movie. It’s about the famous Studio, where I also did JESSIE’S GIRL and a couple of the early 80s albums.

 

Sounds interesting!

Yeah, I am part of that and he brings all those artists that ever recorded in that studio together and make a song with him for the movie, really great stuff. Very similar style and again, a really great song it turned out to be,

 

Look forward to that then!

Yeah

 

When you look back, what do you consider yourself as your finest moment? Your best record?

I haven’t done it yet

 

BOTH LAUGH, not even the new record?

Well, yeah, that is the best one so far.

 

Who were the first influences musically speaking?

HANK MARVIN of THE SHADOWS! He was one of he first guitar heroes, my first single was their song “The savage” (1962), a more rock one. I met Hank actually a couple years ago, as he lives in Australia now and so I had dinner with him, pretty amazing to meet him. It took me 50 years to meet him, but it was great. They always say that you actually never should meet your heroes, because they always disappoint you in real life, but Hank was really a great person to meet.

 

Are you going back to Australia soon?

Yeah, this Christmas, to meet my family.

 

Haven’t been to UK for a long time, right?

Yeah, well, I lived there as a kid, but can’t remember last time I actually played there, but of course the music scene from the UK has always been interesting to follow.

 

Let’s get back one more time to that glorious year 1981, your most successful year…

That was a hectic time that went by pretty fast, as I was doing so much, TV, touring and recording, acting, it was a lot of work, but it was fun to do and a great experience.

 

Something about the movie that is now premiering…

It is about the fans, as I have a big loyal fanbase, whom have been following me for such a long time. Tthe hardcore fans have some pretty great stories to tell and the documentary makers knew them, so they wanted to make a documentary of them, to show their story… it’s really about them, as they go back to their families after visiting one of my concerts or being on the road with me and seeing me all the time, well, then they go back to their normal life and family, which can all be seen in the AFFAIR OF THE HEART documentary which is now hitting the screens in Europe. Pretty wild stuff and great stories. The documentary has already been screened in the USA, doing the film festivals across the states and got some great reviews, like in New York, which was very well received. And now it’s coming over to Europe…

 

Nowadays for movies and music the internet is the most important medium, how do you feel about that...

Yeah, the internet is very important, the same is for books, which is now also very much internet based and in fact, I have written a book ‘Late, late at night’ (named after a hookline in the JESSIE’S GIRL song), which was included in the ROLLING STONE TOP 25 Rock Biographies of all times,

 

When did you decide to write this book?

Well, I have some pretty interesting stories to tell and I always wanted to write a book. Just write about myself and I so I got up this one night and I started writing… I couldn’t stop, talking about all those decades, travelled a lot, moved to England, back to Australia, spent some time in Vietnam, headed to the USA, etc. done a lot of stuff…

 

Especially the Vietnam experience must have been pretty heavy…

Yeah, in fact I almost got killed 4 or 5 times, shot at me, rocketed and they almost blew the band up with a hand granite, it was very scary, pretty intense at such a young age to go to Vietnam and perform for the soldiers out there. A very memorable experience… I was just the guitarplayer in the band, playing War songs, Motown and such… I was just 17 years, younger than most soldiers…

 

When you decided to go the USA and make it out there, you just grabbed your bags and said farewell to Australia and hello USA…

Yeah, well, it wasn’t that easy. I wrote to Canada, I wrote to Mexico, trying to get in, so I could cross the border to America, because you just couldn’t get into the USA back then so easily. It was really hard to get into, to get work, so eventually if you want something and you believe in it, it will come. Just focus on it and that happened to me, because one guy saw me and brought me to America, so I came over and settled myself over there and from then on, it started…

 

Finally, I just need to ask you about your first experience in America, which was not exactly the way you wanted it to be, because you were portrayed as a teenage idol…

No, but I had never seen a Teen Magazine, so I didn’t knew what they were doing, as I thought they were just Music Press. When I realized the whole teen thing and knew what was going on, I left those managers, because there is no future in that… That’s temporary and they don’t take you seriously in the Music Business, especially in the Rock Business. However, they all act now, but in those days it wasn’t good for your music career. It’s easy to go from music to acting, but from acting to music is very hard, because people just do not accept that.

 

Gladly everything turned out to be quite successful for you and it still continues to this very day! Well, good luck with the rest of your career...

Thanks!

 

And so we end our conversation with Rick, who is a very relaxed and friendly musician and here’s hoping he will do a full tour in Europe someday soon. He finishes with singing his most well-known song JESSIE’S GIRL for us (THANKS RICK!)

 

 

THE STORY OF... RICK SPRINGFIELD

+++++ REVISITED IN 2012+++++

Of course we went through his whole back catalogue again, just to find out what Rick’s finest moments were and despite the fact we had to skip his 3 records from the early 1970s that are much more in the Pop/Teeny Bopper direction (although there were already hints of rock and even progrock to be found during several songs), he actually already had a great start in Australia with the Garage-Rockband ZOOT, whom had some great material that clearly reflect the period it was created, which were the late 1960s.

Anyway, the RICK SPRINGFIELD sound really started on his 1976 record ‘Wait for night’, which saw such great rockers like “Take a hand”, “One broken heart”, “Old gangsters never die”, “Archangel” (almost Pomprock, with QUEENish guitarwork) and “Jessica” (his very first real Classic RICK SPRINGFIELD sounding Poprocker) that all showed the first signs of the Melodic Poprocksound Rick became best known for. On the other hand there were also the pure 70s MOR-popballads like “Treat me gently in the morning”, “Where’s all the love” and ”Million dollar face”. Although this 1976 album might not be Rick’s most recommended record, it surely is an album you can easily check out, because overall we have quality Melodic Poprock here and for a 1970s record in the Poprock genre a definite strong release. Sadly it did not become a success in 1976, but was re-released successfully in 1982 at the peak of Rick’s success in the USA.

‘Beautiful feelings’ was an album Rick partly recorded in 1978, but it was shelved and unofficially released in 1984 and that release turned out to be a mix of original 1978 vocals and 1984 added instrumental back-up. The result was a surprisingly strong early 1980s sounding Melodic Poprock affair in the style of Rick’s records released during that period, with such awesome AOR/Poprock tunes like “Just one look”, “Spanish eyes”, “The solitary one”, “Looking for the one” and the beautiful ballad “Guenevere”. If you like the 1983 STAN BUSH Classic AOR debut album, then you will definitely love this RICK SPRINGFIELD album that was recorded much earlier.

However when the 1980s started, Rick not only found his fifteen minutes of fame in America, thanks to “Jessie’s girl” and ‘General Hospital’, but it also marked the start of a long career that still lasts this very present day. His first love was and will always be music and with ‘Working class dog’, Rick achieved what he had worked for all those years, because this was Rick’s first Classic Album release and it paved the way for him to become one of the most successful Rock singer/songwriters in the USA during the early 1980s. Thanks must go out to producer KEITH OLSEN on the tune “Jessie’s girl”, who made this a real 80s classic poprocker, but on the other hand Rick himself wrote, (co-) produced, sang and played guitar and keyboards on almost every track he recorded in the 1980, so he actually owes everything to himself, with just a little help of his friends…

During the 1980s Rick’s sound changed from guitar orientated catchy hookladen uptempo poprock on ‘Working class dog’ to keyboardfriendly hi-tech midtempo poprock on the final album ‘Rock of life’ he put out in the 1980s. Without any doubts, his whole 1980s period was the peak of Rick’s music and even 25-30 years later all those records reflect his best work ever. ‘Success hasn’t spoiled me yet’ was an excellent record, despite the fact it was more or less a polished and poppier approach of the ‘Working class dog’ album sound from one year earlier. 1983’s ‘Living in oz’ is the most AOR/Melodic Rock based record of Rick, featuring the best songs of his whole catalogue, such as the superb titletrack “Living in Oz”, “Me and Johnny” (fantastic song with inspiring lyrics and actually reminding of BRYAN ADAMS “Summer of 69” although that song was not released back then!), “Souls” (pure AOR), “Affair of the heart” and the beautiful closing track “Father and son” (an amazing song that combines orchestral music a la ELEANOR RIGBY – BEATLES with some of Rick’s finest vocals ever put on record!).

‘Hard to hold’ was the soundtrack to the same titled movie and featured a couple really memorable songs, such as the big anthem like melodic rocker “Love somebody” and the ROBERT TEPPERish AOR of “Don’t walk away”. The following studio-album ‘Tao’ saw Rick’s writing and overall sound heading into a more mature direction and perhaps this very record might be his most ambitious and interesting release to check out by any music fan. Melodic Rock with Hi-Tech Poprock influences were perfectly combined here, with a song like “Written in Rock” being somewhat of a lost classic tune.

The Hi-Tech keyboard dominated Poprock orientated ‘Rock of life’ closed the 1980s regarding Rick’s recording career, because after a long pause and some focus on his acting career during the 1990s, we had to wait a long time before Rick managed to release a new record. However, MTM Music released somewhere in the late 1990s a new album under the SAHARA SNOW moniker, which was actually a short-lived project that more or less continued Rick’s hi-tech poprocksound of the late 1980s. In the 2000s Rick released some great new solo-records, which musically also brought back the guitar orientated catchy hookladen uptempo poprocksound of the early 1980s, with as highlight the song “Veronica’s secret” that sounded like the modern version of “Jessie’s girl”.

And now RICK SPRINGFIELD is back once again, but this time with a very strong new record that should appeal to all Rockfans out there, because it sounds retro, catchy and modern at the same time and his voice sounds better than ever! Lyrically it is all about Rick’s life, his family (like the song about his son “Joshua”) and experiences he had recently in this thing we call WORLD, while musically it is actually quite diverse, because you have an almost LED ZEPPELINish guitar riff during the groovy modern Retro Hardrockers “My last heartbeat” and “Depravity”, a pure KISS type of rocker “I hate myself” (which in fact is sounding better than anything on the new KISS album ‘Monster’), BRYAN ADAMSish 90s Poprock (“Love screws me up”), a slight proggy touch in the lovely NEAL MORSE sounding “One way street”, the modern sounding THE KILLERS type Rocker “Gabriel” and the typical RS radiofriendly catchy Melodic Poprock of “Our ship’s sinking”, “Joshua”, “A sign of life” and “Wide awake”, while “I found you” (lovely chorus) and “You and me” are basically 2 pure AOR songs that belong to the best work he has done since ‘Tao’!

Rick accomplished some great work here, combining elements of his past works (‘Working class dog’) with the current modern trend of both Retro Hardrock and Retro New Wave and more importantly, it is most of the time rocking in a catchy uptempo mood! ‘Songs for the end of the world’ is definitely an album you want to play quite often, as it makes you feel happy, is very uplifting and sounding positive from the beginning to the end. Rick’s new album and actually his whole music catalogue should be put right between BRYAN ADAMS (for the massive) and STAN BUSH (for the AOR/Melodic Rockfans out there), so after 15 years when I first wrote about Rick I once again try to convince people to check out this highly underrated musician. The only thing I do not hope is that the albumtitle will become reality someday soon, but in Rick’s own words, the best is yet to come!

 

OUR recent REVIEWS OF RICK SPRINGFIELD: http://strutter77.angelfire.com/HOTNEWREVIEWS137.htm 

RICK SPRINGFIELD website: http://www.rickspringfield.com/ 

AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART website: http://www.rickspringfielddoc.com/ 

Everything on this page is written by GABOR KLEINBLOESEM, thanks goes out to LOBKE DE BOER of ZUSJESDEBOER PROMOTION and MARIO DE RISO of FRONTIERS RECORDS for arranging the interview, as well as YELLOW RICK ROAD PRODUCTIONS, NH CITY CENTRE HOTEL AMSTERDAM and RICK SPRINGFIELD himself of course. 

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