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|Also Known As:||Richard Lewis Springthorpe||Died:|
|Born:||August 23, 1949||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Sydney, New South Wales, AU||Profession:||singer, actor|
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The very definition of a double threat, the soap star-turned-platinum-selling rocker Rick Springfield enjoyed phenomenal success in the early 1980s. Although he had worked for decades honing his musical gifts and acting talent, Springfield hit the big time at one collective Reagan-era moment: while daytime drama viewers tuned in daily to watch him romance the ladies as Dr. Noah Drake on "General Hospital," pop music lovers spun his vinyl Working Class Dog in the other room. His was a long climb to the top, and though the matured teen idol dominated for only a brief period of time, he would not be forgotten by his loyal music and soap opera fans.Born Richard Lewis Springthorpe on Aug. 23, 1949 in Sydney, Australia, the future rocker grew up on various military bases in both his homeland and England. His father, Norman, was a Lt. Colonel in the British Army; his mother, Eileen, a homemaker. At age 13, Springfield was given his first guitar and found he liked to rock out like his idols, The Rolling Stones. He joined various local bands throughout his teen years, including The Jordy Boys and Rock House â¿¿ the latter act traveling overseas in 1968 to perform in Vietnam. A year later, Springfield...
The very definition of a double threat, the soap star-turned-platinum-selling rocker Rick Springfield enjoyed phenomenal success in the early 1980s. Although he had worked for decades honing his musical gifts and acting talent, Springfield hit the big time at one collective Reagan-era moment: while daytime drama viewers tuned in daily to watch him romance the ladies as Dr. Noah Drake on "General Hospital," pop music lovers spun his vinyl Working Class Dog in the other room. His was a long climb to the top, and though the matured teen idol dominated for only a brief period of time, he would not be forgotten by his loyal music and soap opera fans.
Born Richard Lewis Springthorpe on Aug. 23, 1949 in Sydney, Australia, the future rocker grew up on various military bases in both his homeland and England. His father, Norman, was a Lt. Colonel in the British Army; his mother, Eileen, a homemaker. At age 13, Springfield was given his first guitar and found he liked to rock out like his idols, The Rolling Stones. He joined various local bands throughout his teen years, including The Jordy Boys and Rock House â¿¿ the latter act traveling overseas in 1968 to perform in Vietnam. A year later, Springfield returned home from the war-torn country, determined to make a serious go of it in music. His success would be a long time coming, but no one could deny that the baby-faced singer-songwriter had impressive musical chops even then.
In the fall of 1969, Springfield's career took an upswing when he joined Zoot â¿¿ a rock band which enjoyed great popularity Down Under. Their cover of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," arranged by Springfield, blasted up the charts, enjoying a 21-week run with sales stopping just short of gold. Strengthened by this success, Springfield spread his solo wings during a break within the band and recorded "Speak to the Sky," a top ten Australian hit single in 1971. The good buzz spread from Oz to America, and by 1972, Springfield was en route to the country which would, for better or worse, make him an undeniable teen heartthrob the world over.
In order to pay the Hollywood bills, Springfield started taking acting lessons where he learned to speak convincingly with an American accent. Before long, his appealing looks helped him nab a contract with Universal Television, where he landed bit parts on some of America's favorite TV shows of the 1970s: "The Rockford Files (1974-80) in 1977, "The Six-Million Dollar Man" (1974-78) in 1978, and "The Incredible Hulk" (1978-82) in 1979. In what would become his most famous pre-"General Hospital" TV role, Springfield played Captain Apollo's younger brother Lieutenant Zac in the pilot of future cult favorite series, "Battlestar Galactica (1978-79). Unfortunately for the struggling actor, Zac died in the opening scene â¿¿ a casualty of a Cylon space battle. Despite his early demise, he would be remembered fondly by future sci-fi geeks for his small role in the enduring franchise.
Springfield continued to land television parts, but his heart was still in his music. As early as 1978, he started writing what would become his most well-regarded work, Working Class Dog, but could not drum up interest from record companies. Finally, Springfield found a home at RCA Records, but the independent singer butted heads with record company executives over everything from song content to album art. Springfield wanted his own dog, Ron, on the LP cover. Executives blanched, but the singer won out in the end and the famous cover would go to become an iconic 1980s-era image.
Wondering if his new music career was over before it started, Springfield accepted the role of resident soap hunk Dr. Noah Drake on the hugely successful ABC soap opera, "General Hospital" (1963- ). Cast as love interest to former hooker-turned-nurse Bobbie Spencer, Springfield and co-star Jacklyn Zeman sparked up the small screen, giving the show's hugely popular couple Luke and Laura (Anthony Geary and Genie Francis) a run for the money in the chemistry department. His success with female viewers was undeniable. Fan mail began pouring into ABC. To make success even sweeter, Working Class Dog was released at the same time Springfield was enjoying international fame as everyone's favorite daytime dreamboat.
With that one-two punch, 1981 became the year of Rick Springfield. The LP's debut song "Jessie's Girl" raced up the charts to number one, followed up with hits "I've Done Everything for You" and "Love is Alright Tonight." The album went triple-platinum. Springfield graced the pages of Rolling Stone while his pictures hung in many a school locker. Life was good, but the singer grew troubled as his handsome face and 6' 2" stature drew more press than his music. Early in 1982, Springfield won his first Grammy for Best Male Vocal Appearance for "Jessie's Girl." He released a second album, the multi-platinum and aptly titled Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet which continued to churn out such hits as "Don't Talk to Strangers" and "What Kind of Fool Am I?"
By 1983, Springfield began feeling the tug between his daytime gig and his rock star life on the road. Something had to give, and inevitably it was Dr. Drake. Though his departure from "GH" left many a fan bereft, they never forgot Springfield's famous role. The recording artist's success continued with the release of his third platinum LP, Living in Oz. But all was not well in "Oz." Springfield began suffering from exhaustion, depression and anxiety attacks that even a marriage to former RCA secretary Barbara Porter and impending fatherhood (sons Liam born in 1985; Josh in 1989) could not curb.
By 1984, Springfield made the leap to big screen leading man in "Hard to Hold." Unfortunately, the rock and roll fable tanked with fans and was panned by critics. At least the soundtrack yielded a top ten hit â¿¿ "Love Somebody" â¿¿ but by then it was obvious decline had set in. Only three years after hitting it big, Springfield seemed an almost pop relic, as fickle teens latched on to MTV-friendly idols like Michael Jackson, Prince and Duran Duran.
After releasing his last major LP, Tao to lackluster sales in 1985, Springfield took a self-imposed sabbatical from the spotlight. Throughout the rest of the decade, he battled depression so debilitating, he rarely left the house for three years. After years of being a "Where are they now?" fixture, Springfield â¿¿ with the help of therapy â¿¿ reemerged into the not-quite-as-bright spotlight. Following the release of his 1998 album, Karma, the musician began playing new music in venues much smaller than his past glory days. He also dove back into the acting pool, starring on the syndicated TV drama "High Tide" (1994-97) and guesting on the NBC sitcom "Suddenly Susan" (1996-2000), where he played the object of Brooke Shields' affection. He even tackled a Las Vegas stage show, performing in the 2001-02 run of "EFX Live."
Despite his absence from the ever-changing pop scene, Springfield's legendary work was well remembered â¿¿ particularly the enduring classic single, "Jessie's Girl." Twenty years and many a karaoke performance later, the hit song continued to resonate in films like "13 Going on 30" (2004) and, most effectively, in "Boogie Nights" (1997). And then the unimaginable: Nearly 25 years after departing "General Hospital," Springfield surprised longtime fans when he signed on for a return visit to Port Charles in November 2005. Springfield continued working steadily on television alongside his music career, playing a tongue-in-cheek version of himself on the comedy-drama "Californication" (Showtime 2007-2014) and making guest appearances on shows ranging from the sitcom "Hot In Cleveland" (TV Land 2010-15) and the rebooted "Hawaii Five-0" (CBS 2010- ). Springfield's career reignited with his appearance in "Sound City" (2013), a documentary by Dave Grohl about the legendary Los Angeles studio where classics like "Jessie's Girl" had been recorded; Springfield also performed with the all-star band Grohl formed to promote the film. Springfield had a recurring role in the second season of "True Detective" (HBO 2014- ) as Dr. Irving Pitlor. He returned to the big screen with a supporting role as the lead guitarist and love interest of Meryl Streep's lead character in Jonathan Demme's "Ricki and the Flash" (2015).
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