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Rick Springfield still a Working Class Dog

WANT TO GO?

Rick Springfield

WHERE: Clay Center

WHEN: 8 p.m. Sunday

TICKETS: $40 and $50

INFO: 304-561-3570 or www.theclaycenter.org CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For the few fans who somehow can't make it out to the Clay Center on Sunday to see Rick Springfield, never fear. If you don't get tickets, you can maybe see the Rick Springfield documentary coming to a film festival near you.

"An Affair of the Heart: The Journey of Rick Springfield and his Devoted Fans" should be making the rounds of this year's film festival circuit. Filmed in 2010, the documentary chronicles the connection of the '80s heartthrob and pop star and some of his super fans.

Springfield, for his part, sounded a little bemused by the whole thing.

"I loved the bit at the beginning where the guy goes, 'Who the $%*@ is Rick Springfield?'" He laughed, "I love that stuff."

Success hasn't spoiled the man yet, but he's surprised at how well the documentary turned out.

"There's some great live footage," he said. "And it's got a real sense of humor."

Although scenes might not be suitable for Springfield's insurance rep. At one point, the then 60-year-old singer scampers up some scaffolding next to the stage, but silly stage antics aside, Springfield thinks the film is groundbreaking in some ways. It's not a typical rock n' roll documentary. It goes deeper.

Springfield said, "The whole stuff about how a family balances someone who doesn't just go to a show or two a year, but follows an artist around and has since they first became fans is interesting. The documentary has some real emotions. It's got some reality show tinges. It's not some puff piece on how 'fabulous' somebody is."

Springfield didn't sound like he thinks he's completely "fabulous." Over the phone, he sounded humble. He laughed often and seemed not entirely unhappy that he wasn't a superstar. 

Around 1981, there were few pop stars bigger. After the release of his record, "Working Class Dog," and the monster-hit single, "Jessie's Girl," Springfield became a certified teen idol and more. He sold millions of records, won a Grammy and played all over the world, somehow juggling the life of a rock star with his day-job as Dr. Noah Drake on the daytime soap "General Hospital."

But pop music is a fickle business. Popular tastes changed. Pop became less rock and audiences moved on to the next new thing. Springfield continued to work through the '80s, then took a break from music for more than a decade before recording new material in 1999.

He's been at it ever since and is working on his 17th album, plus an unusual side project of Foo Fighter's frontman Dave Grohl.

"Dave is doing a documentary on a studio where a lot of great music was recorded," he said.

The Sound City Studios in Van Nuys was where Fleetwood Mac recorded their Grammy Award-winning record "Rumours," Tom Petty recorded "Damn The Torpedoes" and Nirvana, Grohl's other band, made "Nevermind."

Sound City Studios is also where Springfield recorded "Working Class Dog."

"Dave says his life is judged by Nevermind," Springfield said. "It's judged by what he did before and what he did after."

Springfield said Grohl was just going to do a documentary about the studio, then decided to get some of the artists who'd recorded at Sound City to record songs together.

"It became this huge thing," he laughed.

Springfield acknowledged that a lot has changed since he was the idol of millions, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. 

"During shows, I always go out in the audience at some point," he said. "It's something I couldn't have done in the early '80s. That would have probably meant my death. Now everyone is aware that if I go down, the show is over."

It's easier to connect with people, which is what keeps it fun for him--plus now, his audience is broader. Those teenage girls who taped his picture up in their lockers grew up, got married and had children. Some of them bring their families to the show.

Springfield said he was glad to see a few more fellows in the crowd these days.

  "Back then it was kind of tough for guys to come to the show because it was considered kind of a girl show," Springfield said. "Now, it's OK. A lot of guys grew up listening to my music through their older sister's bedroom wall."

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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