Happy birthday, Rick Springfield!

To many Rick Springfield fans around the world, today is an international holiday. It’s Rick Springfield’s birthday and for those with a case of RS crush, Aug. 23 is right there on the calendar of the subconscious mind whether or not they actually celebrate it.

For those who were tween or teenage fans back in the 1980s, this crush may have developed into a sentimental memory of more innocent times. For others, the crush remained a dominant force in their life, as evidenced in the fan documentary “Affair of the Heart.”

For me, this crush recently resurfaced after reading his memoir, “Late, Late at Night.” I can’t really explain it but reading it reignited that connection (however one-sided it may be) that I felt I had with him so many years ago. Despite some of his admissions in the book that one might think would tarnish a pop star’s reputation, the effect it actually had was making him more of a real person and even more likable.

Today, on his 65th birthday, I, along with thousands of other devoted fans, wish him a very happy birthday and wish for him many more happy and healthy years surrounded by love, family, good friends and continued success.

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I’m not alone in my RS crush

As I rediscovered the inner RS crush that has been dormant for so long, I’m realizing I’m not alone. He really has some devoted fans out there. I’ve found several websites devoted to him, some with funny articles and some that shows extensive research (listing every concert in every city that he’s played, every album, every show, etc.)

Here are some I’ve found:

Rick Springfield and Us: Wow, just wow. What a great resource for RS fans!

WeLoveRickSpringfield.com: Another great site.

It all started here… Rick Springfield: Although the last blog post is from June 2013 (she said she had to move on because it ended up taking too much of her time), there’s a lot of fun stuff to read here.

On the above blog, there’s a link in the Sept. 8, 2011 entry that links to the writings of a RS fan who wrote hilarious stories about him. Marni O’Doherty was a 31-year-old RS fan who had posted a comment on a Yahoo! Rick Springfield board from her office in the World Trade Center on 9/11 moments before a plane crashed into the building. This story made it into Rick Springfield’s memoir. Reading her stories about meeting him, throwing him a thoughtful gift up on stage only to see it kicked under a keyboard, etc., it was sad to think that such someone who seemed like such a spirited, fun person was the victim of such a tragedy.

Then of course there are the Rick Springfield fan Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and the hundreds of likes or comments every time RS posts anything on FB.

RS fans seem like a good bunch. His birthday is coming up this week (yes, I admit that for the last three decades or so, whenever I hear the date Aug. 23, I think “That’s Rick Springfield’s birthday,” although I don’t usually say it out loud), his fans raise money for charity.

Not bad company to be in.

‘Magnificent Vibration’ from a fan’s point of view

“Magnificent Vibration’ is a fun read and the premise is an interesting one – what if you had a direct line to G-d? The story line certainly went into many different directions and since I recently read his memoir, “Late, Late at Night,” I wondered if perhaps some of those scenes were autobiographical.

Also, learning about his soul-searching quest in his memoir added another dimension to his novel, as if he were examining his personal beliefs as he was writing and taking the reader along on the journey. There were also some cool elements – such as switching to different fonts for the different story lines – and some laugh-out-loud moments. I especially like the inner dialogue of the main character – describing what he would have liked to say, as opposed to what he actually did say.

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Many fans, I’m sure, will recognize certain aspects of the book that relate to Rick Springfield’s real life – such as the main character’s best friend being named Doug and his other best friend being a dog. (And who knew that he could draw? Yep, he did the book’s illustrations, too).

But then there are some other aspects that only true fans can relate to, some they probably won’t even admit to, such as unexplained reactions to certain things, like the one I had when the main character expressed his obsession with a Kia: “It’s a Kia!! Yes! I think this is a very good sign.”

My reaction? “Wow! This must mean something! Me and Rick are so on the same wavelength because I drive a Kia!”

(I didn’t say it was a logical reaction – it was just one of those illogical reactions that still occasionally surface from my adolescent years).

My inner teenager resurfaces

Once I learned that Rick Springfield wrote two books and was the subject of a documentary, signs of my inner teenager started to resurface. I put both books on hold at the library and went back to Googling so I could catch up. I was glad to hear that he’s been married to the same woman for all these years and happy to see the photos of him getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“Late, Late at Night” was ready for me to pick up pretty quickly from the library (after all, most of his real fans have read it already since it’s four years old, I berated myself) and “Magnificent Vibration” still had a number of holds on it.

I picked up the autobiography the day I found out it was available and basically let the kids play video games all weekend so I could read it.

I read it with my phone nearby so I could check YouTube to watch videos of the different songs that he was writing about. I couldn’t find anything online already that provided a musical reference of the book so after I finished reading it, I felt compelled to create one. So in case anyone is looking, here’s the musical journey of “Late, Late at Night.

Every person has his or her own struggles and I really appreciated how he shared his own, which he revealed in the pages of his autobiography. Plus, despite that his life was not necessarily one I’d want my sons to emulate – as far as the rock star lifestyle goes – I think by being so honest and revealing, he may be able to help others get through difficult times in their own life, which is a beautiful thing to be able to do. Plus, there was something amazing about hearing him tell his story, very personal and it felt like being reconnected to someone I once knew. (I read a lot of Tiger Beat and 16 magazine stories about him back in the day so I, as I’m sure along with millions others, felt a connection even then.)

Soon after I finished reading his autobiography, I found the “Affair of the Heart” documentary on Netflix on a weekend afternoon and started to watch it immediately. What fun these women must have had making it! I was amazed to learn that there were so many people that devoted to Rick Springfield. It was so nice to learn that the focus of so much of my energy over the years was really a kind, good-hearted guy.

15 years later

After I first moved back to Phoenix, I signed up with a couple of temp agencies while I figured out what I wanted to do next. One was clerical and the other was food service. After working in a corporate environment for four years, the food service jobs were a nice change. Many of these jobs involved selling beer at concerts, which meant I got to listen to live music while I served beer or collected money for the drinks. I got to hear bands that I already liked, such as Dave Matthews Band and Sting (since we had to be there before the show, I even got to hear Sting do his sound check, which was really cool; he was on stage and I watched from rows above in the Mesa Amphitheater). And I saw bands I wouldn’t have seen on my own – such as Black Sabbath, Slayer Primus and other heavy metal bands in OzzFest (after the beer tents closed, we were allowed to stay and watch the band. I stayed to hear Ozzie Osbourne play with Black Sabbath since it felt legendary, but left pretty quickly after people started lighting small fires on the lawn). 

Most of my clerical jobs were pretty boring, although I did meet some nice people. Other food service jobs included working in retirement facilities, sporting events, nursing homes and even in a high school cafeteria. Being in all these new situations created lovely fodder for writing and I’d spend lots of time writing in notebooks about the different people I was meeting. Perhaps to develop into characters for a future screenplay, who knows? 

I also spent those first few months writing songs and performing them at open mics at various coffee shops around town. There were a small group of people that would attend the different open mics – both talented musicians and others who just liked to listen; they were all a supportive bunch. I wrote lots of songs during this time – more like lyrics with melodies accompanied by the few guitar chords I was able to play. 

Flash forward 15 years. 

I’m still in Phoenix – married for nine years and we have three young boys, a dog and a goldfish. I work as an editor and writer at a local community newspaper, which I enjoy very much. (The framed picture of Rick Springfield is still on my bookshelf, my husband doesn’t mind).

Then one day at work, I’m checking the KAET listings to confirm a TV show listing in our calendar and there on the bottom of the home screen is a video of Rick Springfield. Hmmmm.. I make a mental note to check it out at home later that day.

I remember a couple of evenings later (life is kind of chaotic around here…) and make time to watch it. He has a new book? What? A novel?! Then midway through the interview, he mentions his autobiography. What autobiography? Where have I been?!

Time for some Googling. I learned that this autobiography “Late, Late at Night” came out FOUR years ago! (The year my youngest son was born – that time with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old a newborn are kind of a blur).

I also learned about the documentary made by some of his fans, “Affair of the Heart,” which somehow made me feel a little guilty – here he has two published books that I didn’t even know about and other fans made a whole movie about him. And these fans also go on Rick Springfield cruises, all-inclusive Rick Springfield vacations at resorts and tour around the country to see him in concert. And that’s not even to mention that he’s put out a few albums, with songs I’ve never heard, since I’d last checked in.

Rick’s return

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Rick Springfield at The Wherehouse in the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, on April 13, 1999 – the year his “Karma” CD was released.

Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, Rick Springfield took some time off after “Rock of Life” and I didn’t hear much about him except for that horrible ATV accident and that he had had a couple of kids. Life got busy and that was that.

At the end of 1998, I learned that Rick Springfield was going to be doing a show in Las Vegas. I lived in Los Angeles at the time so I headed to Vegas to see the show with a friend. My husband also came with a friend – they headed to the strip instead of the show (I stayed with my aunt and uncle, who lived near the casino where the show was, my husband and his friend stayed at the Sahara, which is a little ironic if you fast forward years later to Rick Springfield’s connection with a little girl named in Sahara in Las Vegas). My journal entry at the time: “Went to see Rick Springfield Sat. night. Row H. Ah! Rick was great – very nostalgic and I remembered most of the words!”

Then in 1999, when I heard he had a new CD out – and that he’d be doing a meet and greet at The Wherehouse in the Beverly Center in Los Angeles, not too far from where I lived – I knew I needed to go,

It was Tuesday, April 13. (No, I didn’t commit that to memory, I just dug up my appointment book from that year from a box in the garage.) The description in the book doesn’t go into much detail, it just says:

“MET Rick Springfield! Wendy got us in with the first group – no line. Rick was so nice! And looked so good!”

He signed my new copy of “Karma” (CD) and an old copy of “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” (record).

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I don’t remember much about the meeting, except that he was really nice, looked very cute and he said he liked the way I spell my name. I still have a framed photo of him from that day on the bookshelf in my office. Not sure if there are other photos – like maybe one of him with me?! (I think I was trying to be respectful of my former husband by not having a photo of me with another guy displayed on our bookshelf but maybe there’s more photos in one of the boxes in the garage. This was long before digital cameras). I don’t think I said much as my mind tried to process that I was actually standing right next to him. The moment lasted forever but was over in few seconds.

After reading his “Late, Late at Night” memoir, I recently learned that “Karma” represented a spiritual journey for him, and in 1999, the songs really resonated with me because I had spent the last few years on a spiritual journey of my own.

Soon after that brief meeting, I learned that he would be performing in concert near Las Vegas – at Sunset Station in Henderson, very close to where my aunt and uncle lived – and my best friend from high school and I planned a trip to see him in concert (she was one of my friends who camped outside the mall for tickets).

By that time, I had returned to Arizona and my friend and I traveled to Vegas for the Aug. 28, 1999 concert. My appointment book said that we were in the front row by the end of the concert and I got to touch his hand and then met his band afterward but I don’t have any memory of any of that. (This was 15 years ago, you know-most of my memories are written in notebooks or appointment books in boxes in the garage). However, I do remember being surprised at how loud I could still scream and wondered how the children of some of the women who were there would feel if they saw their mom throw her bra on the stage.

Then he came to Celebrity Theater in Phoenix later that year – on Sept. 24 – and we saw him there again. Great shows both times! Both concerts were also surreal – the idea that the rockin’ guy on stage is THE guy who wrote all those songs that I’d been listening to for all those years. Out of everywhere in the whole world we could be or could ever go, we were both together in the same room at the same time. (OK, there were hundreds of other people in the room as well, but still…)

Next decade or so

After graduating high school, I moved to Long Beach, California, and although I’d continue to turn up the radio and sing along each time a Rick Springfield song came on (and same for Duran Duran, my other favorite teen musical connection) – I was busy with other things. Working while going to school, and during the next few years, I began exploring my heritage.

One summer I spent my summer in the Catskills in New York in a program designed to do just that. I also continued doing a lot of writing – in addition to journals, I had written “poems with melodies” through high school and beyond. (Except for one year where my creative writing teacher was so discouraging that I quit writing on my own time when I was taking his class). Despite taking piano, viola, violin and guitar through the years, I never excelled in any of them but I’d often sing my own songs in the car and around my house. I was inspired primarily by my three biggest music influences in high school – Rick Springfield, Duran Duran and The Beatles, all musicians who wrote their own songs and I spent a lot of time examining their lyrics. One of my earliest songs, though, “Echo Heart Echo,” was inspired by 1980s Madonna.

Anyway, when I headed out to New York, I gave all my albums to a friend of mine to hold onto when I was away. I kind of lost touch with her after I returned and never got them back. My treasured Rick Springfield, Duran Duran and Beatles albums were gone. But it wasn’t a priority at that time – I knew they were replaceable. I still have a “Rick Springfield’s Greatest Hits” CD so I guess at some point I felt I at least needed to have that in my possession.

I also got married during this time and, seven years later, we separated – nearly 10 weeks after I met Rick Springfield.

(These two things actually had nothing to do with each other but in retrospect, it’s kind of interesting.)

More diary entries from 1982

Here are more diary entries from 1982:

Aug. 21: “Rick Springfield’s last name is really Richard Lewis Springthorpe. … Rick Springfield was on ‘Entertainment Tonite.’ He’s not gonna act on ‘General Hospital’ anymore after his contract goes out.”

Aug. 22: “Rick Springfield was on MTV ‘Music Television.’ He used to and basically still is a shy person. Like me!”

Aug. 23: “Happy birthday, Rick Springfield! 33 years old. We’d be perfect for each other! Only 20 years older!!”

Aug. 24: “Day after Rick Springfield’s birthday. I missed ‘General Hospital’ but I got some shoes for bat [mitzvah]. I was mad tho, if it was she who liked GH so much, she would’ve hurried home. Got 9 posters of Rick now. Got 1 mag.”

Aug. 25: “Two days after Rick’s birthday. Met violinist for bat. So nice.”

The Aug. 27 entry included a synopsis of “General Hospital” and noted that Dr. Noah Drake was “on vacation,” but Rick Springfield was really on tour. The entry ends with “Rick Springfield thought he was ugly when he was in high school.”

Once school’s back in session, there are lots of entries about the different boys at my junior high school and Hebrew school, which girls were mean to which other ones, books I read and movies I saw and a recap of my bat mitzvah. It also started my eighth grade crush on a boy named Brad, who I rarely talked to but sometimes he waved. And according to the Oct. 2 entry, “I have 11 R.S. posters, 4 John Stamos. Also got Chris Atkins, Matt Dillion and one of some guy called Mark.” And later that month Sandy in my guitar class gives me more Rick Springfield posters and I see the “I’ve Done Everything For You” video on MTV. Yes, seeing the video was an actual diary entry. We never had cable at home so apparently it made quite an impression. On Oct. 18, it was official: “Me and Sandy E. made a deal. I give her my Van Halen stuff, she gives me Rick!”

My new obsession with Brad continues, to the point that I convince my best friend to walk the long way to school so I can walk past his cul-de-sac and maybe see him on the way to school. According to my diary, sometimes he even walked – and talked – with us. [No wonder I never dated in junior high…]

And then there’s this entry, on Nov. 7: “In a magazine, I read that Rick Springfield’s dog is Jewish and celebrates Chanukkah. That would be neato!”

Huh?

Several entries also mention RS concerts that I watched on cable at friends’ houses. By Nov. 28, I had 21 RS posters… On Dec. 27, I was in Los Angeles visiting my cousins and bought “Wait Until Night” and “Beginnings” and the entry noted that I also had “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” and “Working Class Dog.” “Only need ‘Comic Book Heroes,’ ” I wrote. Two days later: “Got ‘Comic Book Heroes’ in Century City. Now I have all the Rick Springfield albums! On the plane I sat next to and met this really nice lady named Darby from Paradise Valley. She’s a stewardess for TWA. If she gets Rick Springfield on a airplane, she’ll send me his autograph.”

At the end of the diary, there’s an entry from March 1985, when I’m in 10th grade: I gave updates about the different topics in the diary. In ninth grade, Brad and I had a class together and were friendly in the class.  I listed friends in the diary that I was still friends with and gave updates on the little girl I used to babysit a lot (by 1985, she had a little brother and her crazy basset hound recently had to be put to sleep).

“I still love Rick Springfield,” I wrote in the 1985 update. “Saw him in concert twice so far and have all 8 of his albums and am planning to get his new one pretty soon.”
“It was strange reading this 3 years later – sure brought back memories! (Am I getting old?) Well, bye!”

And now here I am, writing this blog post about 29 years later (and apparently, the infatuation remains.)

Diary entries from 1982

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I found my diary from 1982, and according to a note on the first page, dated 12-1-81, it was a gift from my Aunt Janie. I was 12.

The first entry I could find with Rick Springfield’s name is May 15, which had a note saying that I bought three magazines and listed the posters that came with it. Each one was rated one star for OK, two stars for super and three stars for wow.

Here they are in order and rating:

Rick Springfield: 3 stars

Scott Baio: 3 stars

John Schneider – 1 star

John Stamos – 3 stars

Chris Atkins – 1 star

Tony Geary – 1 star

Darryl Hall & John Oates – 1 star

The rest of the entry included a note that I gave my younger sister some posters and a pack of grape bubble gum. And that I babysat with my sister for a little girl named Brooke, who slept the whole time – we watched parts of “My Bodyguard” and “Caveman” and the whole “Oh G-d, Book II.”

Most of my entries were about the cute boys in school, which girls were mean and different places I went with my friends.

Other entries that mention Rick Springfield:

June 3: “Saw General Hospital. Rick Springfield was on a lot!”

June 12: “I got a Rick Springfield poster. 3 bucks but worth it (got it at Spencers).”

June 14: “There is a lump on my finger. My first thought was cancer. I hope not. I would be so scared, radiation and hair falling out. … I wish to meet Rick Springfield. Talk to ya tomorrow.”

Several pages have little notes scribbled on top: “Rick Springfield” (with a heart), “Rick Springfield is a babe.”

The July 4 entry lists things that I’m going to miss when I go to summer camp: I listed my sister; my parents; my dog; my cat; my goldfish; “Rick Springfield posters, radio, TV and certain friends.”

July 31: Laurie spent the night. “We made a Rick Springfield album and wrote to him.”

Aug. 1: ” Laurie left her Rick Springfield albums here so I could listen to them. ALL DAY I DID! I wish I could meet him! Last night was the 3rd dream I had of meeting him. If only dreams would come true!”

Aug. 6: “Happy birthday to me! Got Rick Springfield’s “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” album from my parents, a mag with Rick and stationery from Brook’s mom and Brooke.”

Aug. 9: “Stayed home all day, danced all day, too, to Rick. Made dinner. Watch Little House. Not a very exciting day.”

Starting about now, I give little updates on each day’s episode of General Hospital and what Dr. Noah Drake did on the show that day. And the little scribbles of his name with hearts appear frequently. [Interjected note: It looks like the obsession is in full force about now.]

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After ‘Success’

“Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” was around the time my infatuation with Rick Springfield began and I quickly caught up with “Working Class Dog.” Then came “Living In Oz” (“Souls” was one of my favorite songs from that album) and his movie, “Hard to Hold.” (Of course I saw it in the theater, probably right when it came out).

At some point, I hit the record stores and picked up “Beginnings,” “Comic Book Heroes” and “Wait for Night.”

After that, there was “Beautiful Feelings” and “Tao.” After that, I graduated high school, moved to Long Beach, California, and soon grew busy with school, work and my 20s. Although I never purchased “Rock of Life,” I would turn up the radio whenever a Rick Springfield song came on the radio and sing along.