Hearing that a story on Rick Springfield was in the works, a friend's response was - " 'Jessie's Girl,' right?"
Right. In 2007, Rolling Stone readers voted Springfield’s 1981 hit their No. 1 karaoke tune.
And if that’s what you know him for, you’re not alone. Although Springfield has had 17 top-40 hits, the folks at “Oprah” offered him a chance to be on a one-hit wonder show a few years back. (He declined.)
If you haven’t been keeping up with Springfield since the days of “Working Class Dog” and his role as Dr. Noah Drake on “General Hospital,” you have some catching up to do.
At 61, he’s left his teen-idol years behind him – although he still has more than his share of rabid fans. He continues to make music. And he still makes the ladies swoon – including in guest appearances last season on Showtime’s “Californication,” where his naked butt was revealed for viewers to ogle.
And then there’s his book. The memoir “Late, Late at Night,” published in October, frankly chronicles everything from Springfield’s battle with depression (which he calls “Mr. D”) to his history of sexual escapades.
“I figured it was the story of my life, so I had to be honest or it wouldn’t really make sense,” Springfield said in a phone interview last week. “I love writing and I got into it, and I think everything is in there for a reason.”
The book, which debuted at No. 13 on The New York Times Bestsellers List, begins with a failed suicide attempt when Springfield was 17.
“If I can share stuff like that and show people that they’re not alone – that everybody has dark feelings – that’s worth it for me,” he said.
Writing about his life came quite naturally to Springfield.
“The only thing I was any good at in school was essays,” he said. “I thought I’d be a writer before I became a musician. I did all the usual adolescent poems.”
His songs – including “Jessie’s Girl,” actually a paean to the companion of man named Gary – are based on real experiences.
“They all start from some little seed of truth,” he said. “Depending how deep the feeling goes, that usually has an effect on how good the song is.
“It was pretty easy to write the book because I’ve been writing about myself for a long time, I guess.”
Springfield hopes to write another book, but his immediate priority is working on his next album, due out in July.
His last release, 2008’s “Venus in Overdrive,” debuted (and peaked) at No. 28 on the Billboard charts. It includes an acoustic version of “Jessie’s Girl” and a song called “What’s Victoria’s Secret?” that led the lingerie-store chain to complain.
“Affair of the Heart,” a documentary about Springfield and his enthusiastic fans, is expected later this year.
And let’s not forget the fourth annual Rick Springfield and Friends Cruise, which features musicians and soap actors.
“It’s a five-day party,” he said.