By Sheila Ahern
Posted Thursday, July 05, 2007
Soon after “Jessie’s Girl” became a hit in 1981, Rick Springfield’s buddies starting holding their girlfriends hands a little tighter.
“I had lots of friends who wanted to know who the girl was,” said Springfield recently during a telephone interview.
“Jessie’s Girl,” released in 1981, is about unrequited love, where Springfield sings about his crush on his best friend’s girlfriend.
His friends didn’t have to worry though, Springfield said.
The song wasn’t really about his best friend. It was about a guy he hardly knew.
“It was about a guy who was in my art class,” Springfield said. “I only knew him for a total of six months. By the time the song came out, we’d lost touch.”
Springfield, 57, lives in California and tours the country, playing between 80 and 120 shows a year. This Fourth of July, he’ll bring his feather haircut and sleeveless T-shirt to the Frontier Days Festival in Arlington Heights.
Rick Springfield’s Arlington Heights concert Saturday night is his only free show this year, according to Springfield’s official Web site, http://www.rickspringfield.com/.
These days, touring is a lot easier. He and his band fly to different gigs instead of taking a tour bus. They don’t party as much and mostly like spending their free time with their families, he said.
But the screaming fans are still about the same. Springfield admits most of those fans are women.
“There’s always a couple guys brave enough to come,” Springfield said. “I don’t think people are coming out for one song or because I played a doctor on a soap opera. I still love to write and perform and am lucky people are still interested.”
And just because he’s an established icon, that doesn’t mean Springfield isn’t a marketing machine.
Today he has a Myspace account, and fans can sign up for Rickmail for touring updates. He has his own merchandise site, featuring items like “Got Rick?” T-shirts and “Jessie’s Girl” temporary tattoos.
Springfield was born Richard Lewis Springthorpe in Australia. He started playing the piano at age 9, the guitar at 13 and writing songs at 14.
He acted in smaller roles, including television series like “The Rockford Files,” “Wonder Woman” and “The Six Million Dollar Man” before hitting the big time in 1981 with the Grammy-award winning song “Jessie’s Girl.” At the time, he was also playing the role of Dr. Noah Drake on the No. 1 rated daytime drama, “General Hospital.”
For the next 20 years or so, Springfield concentrated on his singing career and released several more albums. Since 1999, he’s been touring throughout North America.
In 2005, Springfield returned to “General Hospital” to once again play the role of Dr. Noah Drake as a guest star.
Springfield said he likes Chicago, partly because his wife, Barbara, is from Beloit, Wis. The couple has been married for more than 20 years and have two sons. In June, he played at the House of Blues.
“Chicago has a great vibe going on,” he said. “It’s one of my favorite places to play.”
Besides his touring, he’s also working on a Christmas album.
If you go
Who: Rick Springfield
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Main Stage, Recreation Park, 500 E. Miner St., Arlington Heights
More information: http://www.frontierdays.org/
Article originally posted on the Cook County Daily Herald website.