Before ‘Jessie’s Girl,’ there was Zoot

Years before many of us ’80s kids started plastering Rick Springfield posters all over our walls, Mr. Springfield was already a star back in Australia. You may not have been familiar with his band Zoot because, if you’re around my age, you were just being introduced to solid foods around that time and weren’t following the Australian music scene.

But he was the guitarist in the popular Australian band from 1969 to 1971. (According to his autobiography, “Late, Late at Night,” this was when he bought his Gibson SG guitar, which he wrote “Jessie’s Girl” on and later played in the “Ricki & The Flash” movie with Meryl Streep.)

Why am I writing about Zoot today? Because this tweet popped up in my news feed today:

Although I’m not very familiar with Zoot, I have watched some videos of them in the past, such as their version of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.”

And “Hey, Pinky,” which was written by RS:

When the band broke up in 1971, everyone went on to successful careers: Beeb Birtles was a founding member of Little River Band, Darryl Cotton was a successful Australian entertainer for many years (both in music and acting, as well as a TV host) and Rick Brewer was a drummer for many bands. Oh, and that guitarist Rick Springfield, well, you may be familiar with some of his work over the past 50 years.

The band reunited for a Rick Springfield fan cruise in 2011, which I bet was amazing for everyone who was a part of it. Sadly, Darryl Cotton died the following year from liver cancer.

So the fact that this new CD, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the band, is being released on Nov. 23 is a super cool thing. It’s a great name, too: “ZOOT Archaeology.”

An article on rockclub40.com explains a little more about the 24-song retrospective.

The ZOOT members have dug deeply into their archives for ARCHAEOLOGY, which features the first song the band recorded, a cover of The Move’s ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’, as well as the band’s EMI debut, ‘You’d Better Get Goin’’. The album also includes the hits ‘Monty and Me’ (produced by Molly and featuring a whistling Johnny Farnham), ‘One Times, Two Times, Three Times, Four’, plus their classic hard rock cover of The Beatles’ ‘Eleanor Rigby’, a Top 5 hit and Go-Set’s Best Australian Single of 1971. …

ZOOT ARCHAEOLOGY also features live covers of The Beatles’ ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ and Neil Diamond’s ‘Shilo’, plus rare photos of the band, and liner notes written by Beeb and Rick.

EMI will also reissue ZOOT LIVE – THE REUNION, the CD and DVD documenting what was the band’s last performance, 40 years after they initially broke up.

ZOOT LIVE was recorded in 2011, on the Rick Springfield and Friends Cruise in the Caribbean. The re-formation was so successful that the band started planning an Australian tour; what would have been their first Australian shows in 40 years. But soon after, singer Darryl Cotton was diagnosed with liver cancer. He died in 2012.

ZOOT ARCHAEOLOGY is dedicated to Darryl.

After Darryl died, Rick discovered that both he and Darryl had recorded separate versions of ‘Life In A Northern Town’. “Sitting in the studio listening to Darryl’s solo vocal gave us all goosebumps,” Rick says. Combining the two versions, he then asked Beeb to sing the third verse. “Fifty-four years after I met Darryl, we have a new ZOOT song,” Beeb smiles. “Thanks to Rick, I got to sing one more time with my best friend.”

Isn’t that beautiful? And so is the song:

 

I can’t wait to hear more!

Zoot

“Zoot Archaeology”

1. One Times, Two Times, Three Times, Four
2. Monty And Me
3. Flying
4. Hey, Mr. Songwriter
5. You’d Better Get Goin’
6. Sailing
7. Yes, I’m Glad
8. About Time
9. Sha La La
10. She’s Alright
11. Feelings
12. Little Roland Lost
13. Shake Your Feathers
14. Hey Pinky
15. Strange Things
16. Eleanor Rigby
17. Turn Your Head
18. The Freak
19. Evil Child
20. I’m Only Sleeping Recorded Live 1970
21. Shilo Recorded Live 1970
22. Life In A Northern Town
23. I Can Hear The Grass Grow
24. Eleanor Rigby Live

Advertisements

Five decades of Rick Springfield

Due to the unprecedented exposure of the last post – about 400 views in 48 hours (yes, I was surprised, too) – I thought I’d take the opportunity to launch the Rick Springfield is Not a One-Hit Wonder campaign.

It’s not an official campaign but I’m just tired of seeing RS included in references to one-hit wonders.

So here’s an abridged look at RS through the past five decades.  In the 1970s, he was on shows like “The Sonny and Cher Show” and “American Bandstand.” Then he was popular on MTV after that launched in 1981. Although I didn’t have cable at home, I spent many happy moments while babysitting watching those videos.

His look changed with the times – long feathered hair in the 1970s, short feathered hair and pink and purple suits in the 1980s, the mullet, etc. His musical sounds changed, too, as he adapted to different musical styles throughout the years. His early songs are very different from his current ones, and yet I can appreciate his songs from all the different decades because of his songwriting and musical skills. My personal tastes today are much closer to his current albums – the older ones are more nostalgic now – and I’m excited to hear his new CD that is scheduled to come out in the next year.

Here are some blasts from the past:

1970s

As a guitar player in Zoot:

“Speak to the Sky,” his first hit single in 1971:

His American television debut in 1972, on “The Sonny and Cher Show”: “What Would the Children Think?”

On “American Bandstand” with Dick Clark in 1975:

1980s

His most popular song, “Jessie’s Girl,” for which he received a Grammy Award in 1981:

The 1980s also included his first movie, “Hard to Hold,” and the albums “Rock of Life” and “Tao.” He also took time off from his musical career when his sons were young and focused more on his personal life and on acting.

He was nominated for a Grammy for “I Get Excited,” “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “Affair of the Heart” and made many music videos during MTV’s first decade. Here’s a link to more of his videos.

His other hits included  “I’ve Done Everything for You” (written by Sammy Hagar), “Love is Alright Tonite,” “Human Touch,”  “Souls,” “Love Somebody,” “Don’t Walk Away,” “Bop ‘Til You Drop,” “Bruce,” “State of the Heart,” “Celebrate Youth” and “Rock of Life.”

For many, this was the last people remember about Rick Springfield.

1990s, 2000s, 2010s

But he’s been busy since then, recording several albums – including a CD of lullabies that he wrote for his sons when they were young – touring, acting, writing (a memoir and a novel).  For an amazing resource on all things Rick Springfield, visit this comprehensive fan site.

And now, in 2015, RS fans are awaiting a new CD, a new movie, a new book, a guest spot on a television show and lots of live shows. All in one year! So there’s much more to Rick Springfield than “Jessie’s Girl.”