Something happened that would never happen now, DJs started playing Jessie's Girl, because they liked the song. We started to get attention on General Hospital and then people started to go, "Wait, that guy is the guy that sings that song?" And it kind of came together and was like two rockets being lit rather than one.
I grew up in Australia until I was about nine years old then my dad got posted over to England. He was in the army and we lived in England for about three years. And that was when I discovered girls and guitars. The first time ever held a guitar was actually the same night I kissed a girl for the first time.
They would have school programs where kids would get up and sing badly and play badly and all their parents would go, "Awesome. You're so wonderful."
Back behind the stage, there was a kid holding a Hofner and he was all the kid to me. I was like, I don't know, guess 10 or something. Just did a beeline to him and said, "Can I hold your guitar?" He said, "Sure." So I held it and I played E and the A string, [humming notes]. And that happened to be the start of a theme song of my favorite Western at the time called, Cheyenne. Cheyenne, lonely man. I said, "Fuck. I can play the guitar already."
It was a pretty amazing moment. And then I liked this girl, she was like 16. My friend dared me to ask her to kiss me. So we went outside afterwards, I remember leaning up standing up on my tiptoes to reach her. So it was a pretty momentous night.
When I first came to America, I remember walking into a guitar store. I remember seeing the ERNIE BALL eagle and I remember that cause I thought it was really cool. And so I started using ERNIE BALL back then because I liked the design on the string packet.
And once I had landed in America, I came over here in '71 to pursue music. So I had one hit record when I first came over called, Speak To The Sky, and that was my first hit record in Australia as solo artist. I started doing all these interviews over here for music magazines and they're talking about my music and guitar playing. And they come out with like these teeny bopper stories in 16 magazine. Is Rick Springfield too tall to love? Or, is he too racey for you? Or crap like that. And I went, "What is this?" I'd never seen a teen magazine before, didn't have them in Australia. So they started pushing me more towards the teen thing and I kind of went with it for a while because it was a lot of press. And I was getting recognized at Disneyland and my album was about a guy committing suicide and the teen magazines are going, "This isn't what we were expecting. Where's our Cherish or doesn't somebody want to be wanted?"
It was going nowhere, the teen thing. And it wasn't what I was writing and it wasn't what I wanted to do.
Because I wasn't playing live, so I didn't have musician friends. They're all like publicists and managers and record company guys, there was no real friend. Once I left the managers, everybody I knew left because they're all connected to the managers that brought me over here.
If I stopped for too long, it's not good for me here. Tried to hang myself when I was 16. And I was again thinking about suicide and counting my coins out of my goofy piggy bank to see if I had enough money to go down the street and buy a gun at the gun shop. And I didn't want to go home as a failure. And it's weird, I've forgotten all about all that shit.
Was almost out on the street, had no money. So I started going to acting class just for something to do because I was doing nothing and I loved it. It saved my life.
And I was in a couple of Incredible Hulk episodes, first Battlestar Galactica, The Six Million Dollar Man Million, all those '70 shows. So I really lucked out. I wasn't a particularly great actor. I look at some of the early stuff and I was pretty awkward and shitty. And then serendipitously, I finally got a record deal after five years. At the same time, I landed a gig on General Hospital. And I'd been on there for about six weeks and the record company had the album that I'd finished called, Working Class Dog that had Jessie's Girl and I've Done Everything For You on it. And something happened that would never happen now, is DJs started playing Jessie's Girl because they liked the song. So they released it as a single and it took off.
And then we started to get attention on General Hospital and then people started to go, "Wait, that guy is the guy that sings that song?" And it kind of came together and was like two rockets being lit rather than one.
But like everything in life, it was a double edge sword, all the heavy stations that were playing Jessie's Girl because it was a guitar song, once they found out I was on a soap opera, dropped it. Because they thought, "Oh, it's just some soap opera geek that someone took into the studio and got the singing tune for three minutes."
I eventually left the soap because I wanted to concentrate on touring. I started having more hits and I really loved to play live because I love to play guitar. That's really my joy is to get out and play.
I always serrate the edges of my picks too, in between the strings, the back of the bridge, because it gets that real clunky kind of sound when you play. The first time I ever heard that, I think Jeff Beck did it when he was still in the Yardbirds. He had that real scratchy tone. I used to use that nylon pick and I'd turn it around because I had a groove thing to hang onto because that made the scraping sound on the string. I even had a rough wound on my slide too, because I love the squeaks and all the noises. It just adds a point to the note that I love.
My career is definitely a sum of all the parts. I look at everything I do as part of the one career, has a different skill set. Acting is a different skillset than playing music and writing, but it's still from the same place in me.