Ricky Hearthrob is a really nice guy

Originally Posted Online: May 12, 2013, 5:43 pm
Last Updated: May 13, 2013, 12:22 am
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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.


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