Music and mishaps

Rick Springfield not letting bumps in the road keep him from NH

NH Weekend Editor
September 06. 2017 1:09PM
Rick Springfield, who most recently released 2016’s “Rocket Science” album, is teaming up with fellow ‘80s hitmaker Richard Marx for a night of music and stories Friday night at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford. 
If you go...
WHO: Rick Springfield and Richard Marx

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion, Gilford

TICKETS: $29.75 to $79.75

INFO: or 293-4700

Surgery for a torn tendon in his bicep led Rick Springfield to cancel a couple of solo shows in Canada last week, but he’s still slated to join fellow ’80s hitmaker Richard Marx for a double-bill acoustic show at the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion in Gilford on Friday.

In an Aug. 28 video posted on his Twitter and Facebook feeds, Springfield, with his right arm bandaged and in a sling, apologized for canceling two solo shows in Regina and Winnipeg. Calling it “nothing serious,” he assured fans he would return to the road just a few days later. Last Friday he took to a stage in Vancouver in a sling emblazoned with the words, “I Know What You Want,” a reference to a forthcoming album.

“The big drag is I love to play guitar,” the 68-year-old told the crowd at the Pacific National Exhibition last Friday in a video uploaded onto Youtube and attributed to Backpackdave2012. “That’s my favorite thing on stage, to play the guitar, and I can’t even clap my ... hands, ‘cuz it really, really hurts.”

It’s one of a trio of recent mishaps that have left the musician, author and actor a bit battered as of late. But his self-effacing sense of humor appears to be intact.

“And I have a broken rib. You can blame that on John Waite,” Springfield said, laughing in the video. “John Waite and I were sitting in a bar and we had a little too much to drink and I fell over, and then I twisted my ankle a couple of days later. But other than that, I’m friggin great.”

NH Weekend caught up with Springfield for an email Q&A (through KMJ PR of Los Angeles) in advance of his Lakes Region show with Marx. Both come armed with a few decades of experience: Springfield’s top tunes include “Jessie’s Girl,” “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” “I’ve Done Everything for You,” “Human Touch,” “Affair of the Heart” and “Love Somebody” while Marx, 53, is known for “Endless Summer Nights,” “Right Here Waiting,” “Now and Forever,” “Don’t Mean Nothing,” “Should’ve Known Better” and “Satisfied.”

Springfield, whose stripped-down shows are dotted with stories and anecdotes from the road and recording studio, answered queries about his latest album (2016’s “Rocket Science”), his road trip with Marx, and the song he wrote the day his mother, Eileen Louise Springthorpe, died at 96 last December. He sang the short tribute, “4 Billion Heartbeats,” at her memorial service: “I’m broken inside. I thought I was made of stronger stuff, believed I could weather a storm this rough. Four billion heartbeats still weren’t enough ... you walk hand in hand with my father again tonight.”

Do you and Richard Marx team up on any songs on this tour? And what are on your individual set lists?

Yes, we do some songs together. We’ve known each other a long time, so we have a damn good time up there. Set list? You’ll have to come to the show, but obviously Richard does “Right Here Waiting for You” and I think I sing “Jessie’s Girl.”

I’ve seen — and heard — the exuberant fan bases each of you have. So, I have to ask, with two ’80s heartthrobs on the bill, how much screaming is there on this tour?

Because it’s a storyteller kind of show, it’s a little less crazy than the band shows. The energy is there but people tend to sit and listen more to this type of show. I like it because it’s different every night. I can react from what the audience does, and Richard and I have a similarly warped sense of humor.

Your poignant 1985 song “My Father’s Chair,” about the emptiness in the days after your father, Norman Springthorpe, died, has touched a lot of people over the years. I understand that when your mother passed away last year, you wrote a short piece to be played at her memorial. Have you shared that with audiences?

I have. It’s actually called “4 Billion Heartbeats,” which is, at 96, about how many times my mum’s heart beat before it gave out. It’s hard for me to get through (the song) but I do it to honor my mum. I think people get it. A lot of us have lost someone in the interim, so I think its a healing thing, sharing grief.

The lyric about your mother and father now walking hand in hand was striking. I wonder what you think your parents would say about you keeping their spirits alive in song?

I’d be at the front of that line to ask them. My parents were always supportive of my songwriting once they realized I was set on being a musician. I commune with them when I sing those songs.

You’ve spearheaded some great ’80-era lineups over the years. I see that your next adventure is a March 2018 cruise with Loverboy, Lou Gramm and Thomas Dolby, among others. Seems like such great chances to share a stage with acts you, yourself, might have been a fan of back in the day. Is that the case?

Of course. We all liked a lot of what the other bands were doing, we just never said it back then. Too busy trying to be cool. Now they are all great people to hang with, and I guess that’s one of the rewards of still playing and doing what we love.

Who have you played with in recent years who has made an impression?

I did a bunch of shows in Germany with Steve Lukather (the Grammy Award-winning guitarist, singer and songwriter best known for work with the rock band Toto). We became really good friends. He is a freak, and I suppose I am, too, so we are very compatible.

You miss that stuff when you’re a young lion trying to be the baddest in the pack. I’m sorry I wasn’t more open and social in the ‘80s. I’d probably have more friends now.

Heard you’re going to be performing your hits with the 70-piece Nashville Orchestra in June 2018? How did that come about?

That’s what I was doing in Germany for three weeks, the rock orchestra thing, so we thought we’d see how it would translate in the U.S.

I know you do both full-band and stripped-down tours, but what goes into working up a show with a full orchestra? Any pleasant surprises or particular challenges?

Well, a classically trained musician sometimes gets lost if you go outside the written score. Musicians like me who learned by ear are good with the ad-lib moment.

So it can get a bit tricky when I walk away from the mic thinking the band will follow me but their score tells them I don’t walk away from my mic.

Your latest album, “Rocket Science,” has a mix of musical styles, including country. Any new directions for you on this album?

Oh, my god, yes. I have never done a record like this before, but it has been fun and an interesting experiment.

Blues-influenced, God, the Devil and sex (are all elements that are represented.)

“All Hands on Deck” seems part Celtic ballad, part rollicking sea shanty and part patriotic call. What was the inspiration and intent?

It was our patriotic call, yes. I love this land and think, basically, we still stand for freedom and the good stuff. But that doesn’t mean we are always represented that way by our elected jerks.

Does your album cover of “Rocket Science,” with a chimpanzee seemingly taking notes on an experiment on kids in upside-down metal spaghetti strainers, reflect a particular theme in the album?

I love animals and kids, so it seemed like a good-natured way to say, “Relax, control is an illusion kind of thing.”

I couldn’t help but think of 1981’s “Working Class Dog” album cover of your own dog at the time (a bull terrier named Ronnie). Are you still an animal lover?

No, I am an animal worshipper.

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