Interview: Rick Springfield


The early 1980’s were very good to Rick Springfield. He had a Number One song with “Jessie’s Girl”, plus other hits including “I’ve Done Everything for You”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers”, and “Affair of the Heart”. And MTV wasn’t the only place where you could catch him on TV – he was also the fan-favorite Noah Drake on the soap opera General Hospital.

Although that was his period of highest visibility, Springfield has continued to act on the small screen (High Tide, Californication, True Detective, and a return to General Hospital) and the big screen (Ricki and the Flash), and to record music, most recently his 2016 album Rocket Science. And as we saw on Dave Grohl’s documentary Sound City from a few years ago, he can still rock out!

This interview was for a preview article for for Rick Springfield’s concert at the Libbey Bowl in Ojai on 7/10/16. It was done by email, with answers received on 6/17/16. (Publicity photo)

Jeff Moehlis: What can people look forward to at your upcoming concert?

Rick Springfield: Music. Loud music. I have a great band and we will send everyone away hot and sweaty.

JM: It’s hard to believe, but your song “Jessie’s Girl” is 35 years old. How did that song come together?

RS: I just sat down one day and had the opening riff. It was originally called “Don’t Talk to Strangers” but I saved that title for another song when “Jessie’s Girl” started to take shape. It was I think two song pieces that I had that I put together for the verse and wrote the chorus when I had the verse done. The bridge in that song is kind of the high point. It was very lucky that I found that bridge :)

JM: Ten years before that, you had a smaller hit with the song “Speak to the Sky”. How was your approach to music different in 1971 from your approach in 1981? And how is it different now?

RS: I was more into having the guitar be front and center by 1980. In 1972, I’d just left a guitar-based band and wanted to play different stuff for my first solo work, so it’s a lot more piano and strings and acoustic guitar. Now I still love the guitar and I think its still dominant. Lyrically things change as you grow and get older and different things become more important in your life.

JM: In the early 80’s, you must’ve been very busy juggling both your music and your acting. How did you do it?

RS: I didn’t sleep much. It was pretty crazy – I’m not sure how I managed it. Being 30 helped. Now when a good acting project comes up I usually just cancel some gigs. Although Meryl Streep would joke on the weekends when we were filming Ricki and the Flash – she would soak in a hot bath and I’d go out on the road. She used to laugh about that.

JM: That was also when MTV was just getting started. What are your reflections on the early days of MTV?

RS: It was a small time, hole-in-the-wall studio that I didn’t really think much about, then suddenly it exploded and became more important than radio. It caught everyone by surprise, including everyone at MTV. It was a great vehicle for a lot of artists.

JM: Your song “Bruce” cracks me up. Have you had any interactions with The Boss over the years?

RS: No never. It’s a bit of a running joke. I’ve worked with and known some of the E Street Band, but actually never met Bruce

JM: You were involved with Live Aid, one of the big cultural events of the ’80’s. What was that experience like?

RS: Oh it was too big for anyone to really get a handle on. We all just showed up and did our bit. It has become in retrospect kind of TV’s Woodstock, and the reason we were all doing it was still the ‘peace and love’ thing that Woodstock preached.

JM: It was cool to see you in the Sound City documentary. Any more stories from recording at Sound City Studios that you’re willing to share?

RS: Well, it was the ugliest studio in the world, but had two amazing rooms that put out a ton of hits. It was my lifeline for a few years in the late 70’s, and I owe Joe Gottfried, my manager and owner of Sound City a lot of kudos for any success I had there. He was a great guy and totally supportive of the artists there. There were a bunch of ‘office’ rooms around studio A where quite a bit of hedonistic stuff went on :)

JM: In your acting career, you’re probably best known for General Hospital, but you’ve also been in a number of other shows and movies. What are the best and worst acting gigs that you’ve had?

RS: Best so far is Ricki and the Flash, True Detective, and Californication. Worst is… actually there was no worst although there was this awful series with Joel Grey (he was great but the show was crap) that I guest-starred in. Crappy scripts. The 70’s weren’t known for well-scripted TV shows. Unlike now where the writing is off the charts great.

JM: What surprises did you learn about yourself from working on your autobiography [2011’s warts-and-all Late, Late at Night]?

RS: That my depression has actually helped me in some ways. It’s made me very driven. It’s helped me come up with a few good songs and it pushes me to the gym everyday.

JM: What advice would you give to an aspiring musician?

RS: Do it because you don’t want to do anything else. Passion for your craft is essential when all the doors slam in your face. Every musician has dealt with it no matter how successful they eventually became. You gotta have Huevos.

JM: What are your plans, musical or otherwise, for the near future?

RS: Near future, I’m going to walk away from this computer and do a show, then have a glass of vino, then hit the sack :)


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