When I was offered the chance to review Rick Springfield’s memoir Late Late At Night I thought, what the hell? Before getting this book I knew three things about Rick Springfield: He sang “Jessie’s Girl”; He was on General Hospital; His real last name is Springthorpe. For some reason my sister and I had read that last little tidbit in a magazine when we were kids and found it hilarious. I always felt slight derision about Rick Springfield and it may be because I thought Springthorpe sounded kind of doofy.
It turns out there’s a lot more to know about Rick Springfield and it’s all in his book. I’m a little surprised he didn’t add Favre-esque junk shots just to show us what the full deal is. Because he talks about his junk a lot, as it if were a rascally younger brother who got him into trouble.
The first thing that was abundantly clear was that Rick wrote the book himself. He’s not a bad writer but there were times when I wished he’d had a ghostwriter or an editor who was more aggressive with the red pen because some of the book was just too much. At other times, the authentic voice was refreshing.
The first surprise of the story of Rick is that he’s Australian. No one seems to have known this. Possibly because in the 80s we didn’t do extensive background research into favorite celebs that way we do now. Also because he’s never been on a reality show. Anyway, he’s the son of an Australian military officer, his mother was awesome, he has a brother and he loves dogs. He spent some time in England as a child where he learned about the Beatles and everything else that was good about music in the early years of the 60s. Then he went back to Australia and began what might be considered the longest adolescence ever.
Rick’s twin driving forces were musical success and sex. He was in a lot of bands. Most of them never went anywhere but one went to Viet Nam. Woo boy was that an amazing chapter. It was a bunch young Australian musicians performing for troops and smoking pot. And doing some seriously stupid stuff. I’m surprised any of them came back alive. I suspect they brought some novel STDs back to the Australian landscape too.
It wasn’t long after that that Rick took off for America in search of fame and fortune. That’s where the book became totally exhausting. Our pal Rick kept getting record deals, kept getting promoted as the next David Cassidy, kept touring, and kept banging groupies. And then kept bottoming out. His success to failure ratio was pretty close to 1:1. I don’t think he wrote a single song that you’ve heard of in that period even though he was moderately famous and getting featured in teen fan magazines a lot.
Just as he was about to pack it in and marry a nice girl and live in the suburbs, he got a dog, slept with a girl in his acting class, and wrote “Jessie’s Girl” about a woman he met in a stained glass making class. He dumped the nice girl, got a record deal, met the love of his life (who was about 15 years younger than he is) and got a role on General Hospital. He became famous beyond his wildest imaginings.
And instead of living happily ever after he continued banging groupies even after he married the love of his life and had two kids together.
Would you believe this still a third of this book left? Yeah, the part with the therapy, the spiritual awakening that stops short of Buddhism and Kabala but only barely, and music he made after “Jessie’s Girl”. But I’m too damn tried just thinking about to share any details.
Oh wait! He did have an MC Hammer-esque financial meltdown but he came back from it.
Anyway, the book failed at being a nice overview of the 1980’s which is kind of what I hoped it would be. It’s really a confessional of a one-hit wonder who worked hard for his one hit and kept working hard afterward and also had a LOT of sex along the way. It’s an entertaining enough story but probably could have had 100 pages chopped out without harming the overall narrative. I also think his wife could have been spared knowing that everyone with the price of the book now knows how frequently her husband cheated on her. Ditto his sons.
On a scale of one to ten, I’d give this book a 7. But I’ve for sure had “Jessie’s Girl” in my head ever since I finished it. So that’s kind of a win.
I received free copy of Late Late at Night from the publisher for review purposes. All opinions in this post are my own.