Rick Springfield was often pushed off as a TV soap opera star turned wannabe rock idol, but, in retrospect, his musical output from the 1980s holds up far better than critics back then thought it would.
Born Richard Springthorpe to a military family in Sidney, Australia in 1949, he found his solace in books, films, and music while moving with his parents around his native country and the U.K. By the time he was in his late teens, he had changed his name to Springfield and was playing guitar and singing in a number of popular Australian cover bands doing '50s and '60s pop hits.
In 1968, he joined Zoot, popular teeny-bop band in Australia, and three years later he scored a solo hit with a song entitled "Speak To The Sky." In 1972, he moved to the U.S. and signed with Capitol Records, who released "Speak To The Sky," getting it into Billboard's Top 20.
Expected to have a big career as a pop star, Springfield was sidelined by a number of bad breaks through most of the 1970s. Capitol dropped him; he made a great LP for the upstart Chelsea label, which folded upon his release and prevented him from recording for several years; and when he finally re-launched his career in the mid-'70s, he was constantly confused over the Bruce Springsteen hype. (Springfield even went so far as to record an angry song called "Don't Call Me Bruce!").
Springfield gave up on music and took acting lessons. In 1980, he landed the role of Dr. Noah Drake on the popular ABC-TV soap opera, General Hospital. The following year, banking on the fact that Springfield was already known as a TV celebrity, RCA signed him to record his new, and often infectious, pop songs. The result was Working Class Dog, a solid effort of '80s power pop that yielded the Top five hit, "Jessie's Girl."
With his constant TV exposure on ABC and also the new outlet, MTV, his career exploded. Springfield became one of the biggest pop idols in the U.S. during the first have of the 1980s. By 1983, he quit General Hospital to focus solely on his music career. The hits would continue until 1985, when he made a lackluster feature film entitled, Hard To Hold, where he played—you guessed it—a pop star.
The film flopped and the hits stopped shortly thereafter, although Springfield continued to record into the early-1990s. He made a comeback in 2003 that has continued through today. He is now focusing on the new performance outlet of U.S. casinos, where his middle-aged continually flock to see his live show.