We're all familiar with Rick Springfield's hit, "Jessie's Girl," but many of us may not remember any of his other songs. This is why Oprah invited Springfield to her show to be interviewed as a one-hit wonder. However, as Springfield points out in Late, Late at Night, he actually had 17 Top 40 hits and two surges in his career before the furor died down.
Springfield gives a few amusing details about his early life and how it was spent in the backwoods of Australia. Milk was delivered in a horse cart and stored in an ice box. When his family bought a television, all the neighbors came over to watch it. Early on, Springfield joined a band called MPD Ltd. and was shipped off to Vietnam to perform for soldiers there, amidst enemy fire. Then he came to the U.S. where he was first promoted as a teen pop idol and comparisons were made to David Cassidy.
When his popularity started to fade, he went to Australia and had plastic surgery, at the age of 23. He returned to more hits and a longstanding role in General Hospital. The second time that his career started to fade, he thought that maybe more plastic surgery was the answer and the surgeon told him he would look ten years younger, failing to mention "that I could also end up looking like a stretched-lizard-faced freak." In any case, it turned out that this time around, plastic surgery was not the answer.
At present, Springfield has been doing a lot of charity work for kids with cancer, because of his moving experiences with a young girl named Sahara who died of the disease. He also gives a few details about his 26-year marriage, his sex addiction and his depression, about which he's very forthcoming.
Overall, this is an admirable book, written by the man himself without the aid of any ghostwriter. It's open and honest about the problems that Springfield has had in dealing with stardom, including his depression and the excessive plastic surgery. Springfield comes across as human and vulnerable; you end up rooting for him in hopes that he might make yet another comeback.
Rick Springfield was born Rick Springthorpe, the son of Norman and Eileen Springthorpe. He had an older brother named Mike and his family moved to London and back to Australia while he was still young. While in Australia, he was a member of the band "Zoot" for a couple of years and then started going solo. His first single, "Speak to the Sky" reached the top 10 in Australia and Springfield then decided to move to the US. He won the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for "Jessie's Girl" and had many more hits in addition to his acting stint on the soap opera General Hospital. Late, Late at Night was ranked among the Top 25 Great Rock Memoirs of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine.
"Much better than I expected, especially once I heard that he wrote it himself. After this brutally candid look at the life of one of my childhood crushes, I have a lot more respect for him as a musician now (even more than from seeing him perform several years ago). And it's a wake-up call about how crippling depression can be, even for someone you might think has it all."
Peebee (5 out of 5 stars)