Fortunately, Rick Springfield did talk to a stranger last Friday on the show -- me. Of course, he was promoting a concert and a DVD. If I'd bumped into him at the grocery store, I doubt we'd have had as nice, or as long of a conversation. Just sayin.
For those that missed the interview, here are some of the highlights...
Mike Williams: I don't believe you've played the Rialto before, is that correct?
Rick Springfield: No, I hear it's a great looking theatre. We're very up for the show.
MW: My wife and I saw you back in '99 at Joe's on Weed Street in Chicago.
RS: (Laughs) That was one of the first shows we did (on the Karma tour).
MW: Yeah, there was a Sinatra impersonator that opened for you...
RS: Yeah, wow (laughs).
MW: And the day after, my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our first daughter, so anytime we bring up the concert, we think "oh yeah, and the next day we found out we were pregnant", so the concert is special to us.
RS: Good memories.
MW: I asked some of our listeners to throw some questions your way, and my wife gets the first one. She had heard that you were working on a Christmas album.
RS: Yeah, it kind of got delayed because fans who know me call it "Rick-time", so I was hoping to get the opportunity to do it for this Christmas but it isn't going to happen, there's too much to do -- we just finished the live DVD that's out now, then we did a VH1 show that we had to mix. We've done some of the Christmas album, and we'll finish it next year.
MW: Another listener, Amy, had heard that there are plans for a new studio album, too. Is that something that you're looking to do in the near future?
RS: Yeah, I'm actually building a new studio, and when that's done hopefully we'll have enough songs to go in and record a new album. We actually do one of the new ones live, we start the show out with "Who Killed Rock and Roll", and it's, you know, a good up-tempo song that's got a good beat, you can dance to it, and that's what most of the songs will have I think.
MW: What can fans expect to see on the new DVD that is out now, "Live in Rockford"?
RS: I think it's really representative of what the show was toward the end of last year. It's 5.1, and high definition, it's like an eight camera shoot, it's really just an amazing job. It's a very exciting representation of the show. The sound is great and the theatre is beautiful. We actually looked at doing it at The Rialto in Joliet. We were going online looking for a real pretty theatre to film this thing in and The Coronado (in Rockford) won out mainly because it was available.
MW: I think one of the things that people will notice when they come to see you Saturday, or if they get the DVD, is the pure joy you have onstage playing music. The enthusiasm, the energy, you really seem to love what you're doing, and it really comes through onstage.
RS: Yeah, I absolutely love playing live. I will do it as long as I'm physically able, and as long as the energy's there, and the energy is great. The crowd energy's amazing. We actually did a USC show for a cancer fund, like a sorority thing in a parking lot and there were about 500 twenty-year olds, and it was great. That kind of energy is awesome, too, you know, you launch into songs and they recognize them and it was wonderful to see.
MW: The other big question on people's minds, when is Noah Drake (the character he plays on General Hospital) coming back?
RS: Well, he's still on the road. They called up the other day trying to find out what my schedule's like in the new year because they want to start writing some stuff in. Obviously they have a storyline in mind. Touring is the most fun for me, but it hasn't hurt to be back on that show, and it seems to have opened up other opportunities, too.
MW: Did you recover from, what was it a liver problem? I'm trying to remember through my wife's watching of the show.
RS: Yeah, it was a liver transplant and yes I did recover from that, as people do on soap operas. They recover 100 percent (laughs).
MW: Many times over.
RS: Yeah, I remember one of the characters got shot and she said, "ohhh, I get shot again?!?!"
MW: Was there pressure from General Hospital to play your music on the show, especially as things took off for you in the early 80's?
RS: Actually, I was originally hired as an actor by Gloria Monty who was the brains behind behind the whole GH phenomenon, and I'd been on the show for about three weeks and she quietly came up to me and said 'I hear you're also a singer' (laughs), so it was very cool that they didn't know about the music side, and then obviously when the music side really hit they started saying 'would you play on the show', and I always said 'no'. I just thought it was too goofy to suddenly have this doctor launch into a song that was by this guy who was going out touring. It was too much of a sellout. They didn't push it too hard.
MW: Right, you'd be visiting a patient, along their bedside in the hospital saying to them, "let me help you out, let me play this song for you" and grab the guitar...
RS: (laughs) The believability factor is hard on soaps sometimes as it is, so I think launching into a pop song as a doctor would stretch the limits of that even.
MW: With your music, there was always kind of a critical acclaim vs. popularity in the early days. I know you felt the merits of your music were strong enough, that it shouldn't have been 'I'm successful musically because I'm a soap star'. I think when your songs stand the test of time like yours have, that's pretty much testament to that.
RS: Yeah, that's great. There was really no way for me to address that other than to just keep playing, and whatever happens, happens. You can't have someone that doesn't think you have any credibility, you can't talk them into thinking you have credibility. You just have to let time go and either have them change their mind, or make up a new set of views, so, that's all I could do, is wait, and fortunately the music has had legs. I've been playing guitar for 35 years, I have some expertise. In fact, the live show, it always surprises people the kind of viruosity of the band, so I'd rather surprise them, then have them be disappointed, so that's great.
MW: You've had the Behind The Music treatment from a few years back, and wasn't there a cartoon about you back in the 70's?
RS: Oh jeez (laughs), that was a serious misstep, boy. I've made a few missteps in my career, but that was the biggest.
MW: What were some of your influences musically growing up?
RS: Rodgers and Hammerstein. My parents were big musical fans, movie musicals, Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, and I really loved all that kind of music, because that was the only music I heard at the time. And also the writers. Writers were the kings with all the broadway shows that went to musicals and movies, so I was very aware of the power of songwriters. Then The Beatles hit and that kind of took it to a new level for me, and they were in the same age group. It's always been focused on the writers as far as I'm concerned.
MW: I know there's a girl that you've been involved with as far as charity work and fund raising efforts for Sahara Aldridge. Can you give us an update on her situation and how fans can help out?
RS: I've known Sahara since she was five years old. She's twelve now. She's amazingly brilliant, bright, beautiful kid, and absolutely out of nowhere was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Things were looking pretty bad, and her parents took her to Houston for some treatments -- they've done some pretty radical stuff, and it's actually looking...she's back home right now, and they're doing fundraisers for her, and it looks like we'll be doing a fundraiser in her hometown in December. People can find out more at my website. She's very worthy of your attention, and your prayers, and whatever you want to send her. I love her, and I doing it because I have to, you know? I must.
MW: Absolutely. Thanks so much for your time, Rick. We hope you enjoy The Rialto, I know the fans are looking forward to it. Bar none, when it comes to reaction from my listeners to music we play, you're at the top, and I'm not just saying that because you're on. It's usually you, Bryan Adams, and Bon Jovi. Something about you guys...
MW: I get the most emails, requests, and reaction to your music.
RS: God bless them all.
MW: Thanks, Rick.
RS: All the best.
Fans can find out more about Rick at rickspringfield.com