Niagara Gazette

April 4, 2013

Rick Springfield's long road from 'Jessie's Girl'

By Thom Jennings
Night & Day

Night & Day — It’s been more than 30 years since Rick Springfield released his Grammy Award winning song “Jessie’s Girl,” and while he may not be at his peak in popularity it’s tough not to argue that the musician/actor isn’t at his creative peak right now.

Late last year Springfield released his 17th solo album, “Songs for the End of the World.” It’s an album chock full of powerful hooks and sing-along choruses, and it sounds fresh and exciting.

“We are very happy with it, I miss getting regular radio play because as an artist you want to share your music. It’s a huge step and I will use the album as a stepping stone to my next recording,” Springfield said during a telephone interview earlier this week, in advance of a two-night stand at the Niagara Fallsview Casino this Friday and Saturday.

Springfield rose to prominence in the early 1980s as Dr. Noah Drake on television’s “General Hospital,” as used the celebrity status to help his music career.

One of Springfield first big hits was “I’ve Done Everything for You,” a song originally written and performed by Sammy Hagar.

“I’ve known Sammy since the beginning. He was very cool and helped my get sound and everything for one of my first gigs at Santa Monica Civic. We’ve talked to each other on and off through the years. He always made jokes that the song was a hit because I was cuter than he was. Someone told me the other day that I changed the cadence in the chorus and that’s what made my version different. His version was a live version I believe, and it was rougher so we cleaned it up a bit.

The song almost wound up being recorded by another famous artist.

“Keith Olsen offered the song to Pat Benatar but she thought it was too macho so he gave it to me. Keith had already picked my song “Jessie’s Girl” and wanted an outside song. At that point Keith Olsen could have told me to sing “Happy Birthday” if he wanted to.”

In addition to playing around 100 shows a year, Springfield continues to appear in television and in the movies. In recent years he has appeared on “Californication,” “Hawaii Five-0” and “Hot in Cleveland.” He also recently returned to “General Hospital.”

“I went and did two days on the show for their 50th anniversary. “General Hospital” was instrumental in getting me started in the ‘80s and I feel an allegiance to the show. I am going to New York right now for a 50th year celebration show on Katie Couric. My character is still part of the show, he has a son and granddaughters and they talk to him on the phone.”

Of late, Springfield has earned a reputation for being accessible to his devoted fan base. His fans provided the inspiration for “An Affair of the Heart,” a documentary film about Springfield and his fans that has won numerous awards.

“There are some pretty amazing stories and I was shocked myself at some of them in the documentary. (Director/Producer) Sylvia Camineer did an amazing job. I thought it was going to be a fluff piece with me playing and fans commenting but she went really deep. In the end it turned out to be part reality show and part rock documentary, I don’t think there has ever been anything like it.”

The movie comes out on DVD later this year.

The final subject I broached with Rick was his personal battle with depression, a mental illness that he has brought to the forefront, providing inspiration for countless people who suffer with the condition.

“It’s something I had to talk about because it’s a big part of my life and part of my drive. The upside of it is that it has helped me write some great songs. I have been on the edge but I have learned to live with it.”

Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night & Day.