Rick Springfield is an ‘80s icon. The hair, the face, the voice, the talent. The dark-haired Australian had it all. Actually, he still has it all. The 69-year-old singer, songwriter, musician, actor, writer, husband, and father is still hitting the stage and screen as often as he can, because that is what he does. The man truly lives to do what he loves and please his fans of all ages, but his family and his personal life do come first. Springfield always seems to have new tricks up his sleeve and I know that music lovers, sitcom lovers, and fans alike will adore all that he is currently up to. I had the chance to ask the kind hearted, age-defying musician some questions about all of that — and more!
You just announced that you will be having a guest spot on ABC’s hit sitcom, “The Goldbergs”. Can you tell us a bit about that? Your character? How that opportunity came to be?
I don’t think I can. Most shows don’t want spoilers, so it’s usually not cool to do. It’s a funny show and the writing is pretty great but have to let it be a surprise. They came to me and asked if I would do the part. I love acting and doing the unexpected or twists on a theme are a lot of fun. That’s about all I can say or you might find my body floating in the L.A. river.
I can imagine that being that you have been in the business for so long that you get this a lot, but do you find that there is a big difference between the acting business and the music industry? Or is it really all just amassed under the heading of the entertainment business?
The music business is totally screwed, but I think the acting business is alive and well. The business side of any art form is pretty far removed from the art itself. The creative side is the only thing I have any say in, so that’s what I focus on. Acting and music feed the same animal, but they are different skill sets for sure.
With such an extensive discography, how do you narrow down what to put onto the setlist when you tour? Sure, “Jessie’s Girl” is a staple, but there are so many other songs to be heard that might get lost in the sea of great music that you put out.
I pick what plays well, what goes over best, and then add new songs and pull out past album stuff now and then. There are a lot of songs that need to be in the set, so obviously the hits are necessary, but we do play songs from other less successful albums and recent CDs. It’s a good mix, I think.
What are some of your favorite songs to perform live? Are they the ones that get the crowd excited and roaring, or are they more songs that you love and find the most personal to you?
Usually the ones that are the most fun to play have an element of both those things in them. People get off on the song and that makes them more fun to play. It’s a very audience driven show. I am guided by them.
You and your wife, Barbara, have been together for years and have built a strong family unit over the course of the past three plus decades. How did you manage to do that and keep it private so well? How important was it to you to balance a solid family life and still keep your professional career strong?
It’s all Barbara. I am the loose cannon in the family and she is the very private family rock. The only way to stay married is to not get divorced. There’s no other secret. There’s always issues that need to be dealt with in a marriage but they do need to be dealt with. A lot of marriages suffer from the silent death where difficult subjects are just not spoken about and that leads to the end of the marriage, I think. Marriage is a tough game and not for wussy babies.
Growing up, did you ever think that you would be a Grammy-Award winning musician, a thriving and notable actor with many diverse jobs and roles under your belt, and an author to your own memoir?
Short answer: Yes. Longer answer: I have always had big dreams and goals and have never shirked hard work. I knew, most of the time, that something would happen if I kept in the game. I have great role models and that helps too.
Speaking of your fantastic memoir, “Late, Late at Night”, you’re very open about your life and the struggles that you have faced and overcome. What was the experience like writing that? Was it something that you sat down and wrote for a reason in a few months or did you pen it over some time and put the pieces together for it? Because it is quite personal with great, stellar insight into your life, the business, and your career.
Like any book, article, song or letter, the only thing you have to do is start writing. It’s tough and scary, and the one thing most people need to push beyond to get to the good stuff. The memoir was a lot of fun to write and relive a lot of my life, and I just started one morning and stopped when I was done. It took about four months on and off but I write a lot in my head too.
Once it was finished I didn’t want to release it because it was so personal but my editor talked me out of that decision. I’m happy that it brought some much-needed attention to depression, but I was also surprised that that issue was so singled out in the book.
A few years ago, you did a small tour with Richard Marx and did a full acoustic set. Do you enjoy the stripped-down sets and the intimacy of the live music on stage resonating with the audience?
Yes, I’ve been doing the solo/storyteller show for about four years now and it’s a nice break from the pedal to the metal band shows. I get a chance to talk, tell stories and just communicate with the audience in a different way. We also play a symphony show with a 40-piece orchestra that is very different again. Makes touring all that more interesting and challenging
Being as you have been a musician for so long, do you feel as though the music industry has changed? If so, how? What are your thoughts about it in 2018?
The music business is pretty messed up these days. There are no real lucky breaks anymore where if the song is good, it will be heard. It’s all about programming and short, repetitive playlists — and unless you’re a rapper or doing the pop songstress thing, there’s not a lot of maneuvering room. I don’t know how bands and artists that aren’t from “American Idol” or have a heavy financial backing survive these days. There is still so much great music being made but radio isn’t playing it.
Do you see a variety of ages in the audience at your shows? Your career spans decades and generations, so I can imagine that mothers have passed their love of your music onto their kids, and so on. You’ve been an integral part in so many people’s lives.
Yes, it’s pretty great to see generational audiences. There’s a lot of guys now that the whole ‘teen’ stigma is no longer relevant. Plus, the acting roles I’ve had lately are opening me up to a different age group, as well. I’m just happy people show up. We are out there because they do.
After your spot on “The Goldbergs”, what can we expect from Mr. Springfield? Any more exciting roles? Books? Music?
Yes, all of the above. Working on new stuff all the time because that is my reason to exist — for myself anyway.
Catch Rick Springfield performing live at The Paramount in Huntington, NY on September 13, and at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ on September 14.