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Profile: Dusty Springfield

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Dusty Springfield in the Sixties

Dusty Springfield in the Sixties

source: dustyspringfield.co.uk

Born:

Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien, April 16, 1939, Hampstead, London, England; d. March 2, 1999, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England

Genres:

Pop-soul, Pop, Girl group, Adult contemporary, Dance-pop

Instruments:

Vocals

Contributions to music:

  • Defined "blue-eyed soul" for the Sixties generation
  • A diva whose interpretive skills are legendary
  • Helped define the sounds and concerns of the "girl group" genre
  • Able to essay pop, soul, folk, and dance music with equal aplomb
  • Helped create a classic look for Sixties women with her beehive hairdo and eyeliner
  • One of the first pop stars to "come out" about their bisexuality

Early years:

Young Dusty (then Mary) was brought up in a house filled with classical and jazz music, and it was through her father's record collection that she discovered Peggy Lee, her earliest vocal influence. Soon she'd joined a pop vocal group called the Lana Singers, but it was with folk music that she first found success -- her older brother Dion formed a trio called the Springfields, which caused the three (including a family friend) to change their names. They enjoyed success in Britain.

Success:

It was while touring with the group in America, however, that Dusty heard The Exciters' "Tell Him," and that, coupled with Motown and other new influences, prompted her to go solo in 1962. She married Broadway sweep to girl-group effusiveness with her first hit, "I Only Want To Be With You," and the hits just kept coming. When girl groups fell out of fashion, Dusty went soul, achieving her greatest critical success with the Dusty In Memphis album and its hit, "Son Of A Preacher Man."

Later years:

The Seventies saw Dusty battling mental illness as well as addictions to drugs and alcohol, but she rarely stopped trying to regain her foothold on the charts, recording in whatever style was popular at the time to some minor success. She finally succeeded in 1987 with a collaboration with the synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys called "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" but her planned followups were derailed by breast cancer, from which Springfield eventually succumbed in 1999.

Other facts:

  • "I Only Want to be with You" was the first song played on BBC's TV pop show Top of the Pops (1964)
  • Deported from South Africa in 1965 after refusing to play to racially segregated crowds
  • "Son of a Preacher Man" was originally offered to Aretha Franklin, who turned it down
  • On an episode of her variety show Dusty in 1967, she duets with Jimi Hendrix on the song "Mockingbird"
  • A cat fancier, Dusty was quite active in the animal rights movement

Awards/Honors:

  • Order of the British Empire (OBE) (1999)
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1999)

Recorded work:

Top 10 hits:
Pop:
  • "Wishin' And Hopin'" (1964)
  • "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" (1966)
  • "Son-Of-A Preacher Man" (1969)
Other important recordings: "Stay Awhile," "I Only Want To Be With You," "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself," "All Cried Out," "In the Middle Of Nowhere," "Give Me Time," "Losing You," "All I See Is You," "Little By Little," "I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten," "What's It Gonna Be," "I'll Try Anything," "Some of Your Lovin'," "Guess Who?" "The Look Of Love," "A Brand New Me," "Don't Forget About Me," "Sweet Ride," "Willie & Laura Mae Jones," "Breakfast In Bed," "Goin' Back," "The Windmills of Your Mind," "In The Winter," "That's The Kind Of Love I've Got For You," "Something In Your Eyes," "What Have I Done To Deserve This?"
Appears on: "The Bitch Is Back," Elton John
Covered by: Isaac Hayes, The Byrds, Samantha Fox, The Bay City Rollers, Natalie Merchant, Gladys Knight and The Pips, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Vonda Shepard, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Anita Baker, Diana Krall, Tracey Ullman, Melissa Manchester, The Delfonics, Dionne Warwick, Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Alison Moyet, Sting
Appears in the movies: "It's All Over Town" (1964) (with The Springfields)
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