Ricky Hearthrob is a really nice guy

Originally Posted Online: May 12, 2013, 5:43 pm
Last Updated: May 13, 2013, 12:22 am
Comment on this story | Print this story | Email this story
By John Marx, jmarx@qconline.com

I was locked and loaded, ready to loathe "Ricky Heartthrob.''

Can you blame me? Rick Springfield is 64, in great shape, and a big-time touring rock star who doubled as a soap-opera star in the 1980s.

Heck, my wife and other females from ages 20 to 70 still fawn over him.

So what does Ricky Heartthrob do?

He goes and says all the right things, repeatedly interrupting our recent conversation to thank me for taking time out of my day to talk to him.

Blasted Heartthrob -- it turns out -- is a great guy.

"I'm still just the guy who played too loud in his parent's garage and had the neighbors calling for us to stop,'' Springfield said by phone last week.

It should be notedthat Springfield, who will perform Friday, May 24, at Bettendorf's Waterfront Convention Center, changed our interview time twice to accommodate my schedule. Who in the world of being famous does that?

"It's still about writing songs and loving music,'' he added. "I grew up with Rodgers and Hammerstein in my parent's home, so I have a deep appreciation for writing and the show that is music.''

Fans have a deep fondness for Springfield, whose music and acting career has spanned four-plus decades. In addition to selling millions of records, he gained worldwide fame playing Dr. Noah Drake on the daytime soap opera "General Hospital."

That's when I began calling him "Ricky Heartthrob.''

These days, the Australian-born Springfield plays to sold-out houses, offers cruises specifically for his fans, and arranges meet-and-greet sessions at every concert. The guy is as accessible as your next-door neighbor.

"I'm honored people still want to hear my music,'' Springfield said, noting his recent album "Songs for the End of the World,'' and the "Sound City'' documentary he was featured in with the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl have been two of his most enjoyable musical successes.

"The album was fun; all my albums have been fun. Making music is still what it's about. 'Sound City' was amazing. It was as much about sitting around talking with (Fleetwood Mac's) Stevie Nicks, Dave and others as it was performing.''

Humble to a fault, Springfield has many times played the fan in his career. He still hopes to share a stage with Beatles legend Paul McCartney, was lucky once to share a plane ride with Elvis Presley, loves The Who, and even shared a "GH" scene with the legendary Elizabeth Taylor.

"It was cool to sit and talk with someone as gifted and beautiful as Stevie Nicks during 'Sound City,''' he said. "Dave said McCartney was going to stop by, and I got all excited like a little kid. It didn't work out, but he is on my (bucket) list. I understand what it's like to be a fan.''

Although he has had 40 Top 40 hits in his career, Springfield understands he has been tied to one song for years. And that megahit, "Jesse's Girl,'' remains a companion of his.

"It has crossed the line of time, made it through generations,'' Springfield said of the song, which was released in 1982. "I love playing it. I love that people care enough to want to hear it. Seriously, I've been really fortunate.''

Seriously, Ricky Heartthrob's a good dude.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com.


Local events heading

  Today is Saturday, Aug. 2, the 214th day of 2014. There are 151 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Because of the National Fast, no paper will be issued from this office tomorrow.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Attracting considerable attention is a sunflower stalk 15 feet high and still growing in the yard of Dr. C. Speidel on 23rd Street in Rock Island.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The municipal bathing beach proposition came up again at the city commission's meeting and a proposition passed, provided that a locker room be constructed at the foot of 7th Street for the accommodation of the bathers.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans for erecting a $14,000 warehouse to replace the frame structure at the rear of the Augustana Book Concern were announced.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Hours for tours of the new Deere & Co. Administrative Center on John Deere Road will be changed, effective Monday.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Tuesday night at the Great Mississippi Valley Fair in Davenport the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band gave its fans more than they possibly could have expected. The band took the stage at 9:07 p.m. and didn't leave until 10:40.

(More History)