Dusty Springfield - Biography

Dusty SpringfieldDusty Springfield (April 16, 1939 March 2, 1999) was a British singer, regarded by many as one of the finest white soul singers of all time. She was born in Hampstead, London as Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien, and was a fan of Peggy Lee from an early age.

Her first professional musical group was the Lana Sisters, who issued a few singles. Later, she and her brother, Dion, and Tim Field formed The Springfields, a folk trio. O'Brien took the name Dusty Springfield after forming the group, which soon became a popular act in Britain with singles such as Breakaway, Bambino and their biggest hit "Island of Dreams". By 1962, the Springfields had some success in the United States with Silver Threads and Golden Needles.

The Springfields travelled to Nashville, Tennessee. Dusty was so enamored of Motown, particularly the girl groups, that she left the Springfields to pursue a solo career in soul music. Her first single was I Only Want to Be With You, which was a success in both Britain and the United States. This was followed by a series of classic and successful singles, includin Wishin' and Hopin', Anyone Who Had a Heart, I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself, Stay Awhile and All Cried Out.

By 1964, Springfield was one of the biggest solo artists of her day. She created a controversy when she refused to play in front of a segregated crowd in South Africa. In 1965, Springfield began hosting The Sound of Motown, a British TV show which introduced Motown and American soul music to British audiences. Meanwhile, she released such classic singles as Losing You, Your Hurtin' Kinda Love and In the Middle of Nowhere, culminating in the huge hit, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.

With the rise of psychedelic music in the late 1960s, Springfield was rapidly becoming unhip at a time when hipness was very important. She signed with Atlantic Records and recorded an album in Memphis, Tennessee with producers Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd. The album, Dusty in Memphis, is her magnum opus and is still regarded as one of the best soul albums of all time, best known for Son of a Preacher Man, which was a hit in both the United States and the United Kingdom, though the album itself was a flop. A Brand New Me (1970) was just as unsuccessful commercially, though also a critical darling. A third Album for the Atlantic label, prouduced by Jeff Barry was abandoned due to unsucessful single releases. Similarly, her next album, See All Her Faces (1972), realeased in Britain, followed the same pattern. In 1973 Springfield signed to the ABC Dunhill Records label which resulted in the album Cameo in (1973). The following year she began to record another album for the label titled "Longing", however the project had to be abandoned due to the vocalists failing mental health.

Springfield put her career on hold during the mid-1970s, though she did work with Anne Murray, and focused on solving long-time problems with substance abuse. She continued to release critically lauded but commercially unsuccessful albums and singles throughout the late 70s for the United Artists Records Label resulting in the albums "It Begins Again" (1978) and "Living Without Your Love" (1979). During this time Springfield rarely charted and soon drifted from popular view. She ended this period by realesing two final singles for her British Label Mercury Records. She was vertually forced to do so due to the lack of sucess of her previous albums. The singles were: "Baby Blue", a disco number that charted in the top 70 and "Your Love Still Bring's me to my Knees", the singers swansong for a company she had been with (in various forms) for 20 years.

In the 1980s, Springfield wanted to forget the 1970's and start afresh. She Signed a deal with 20th Century Records, which resulted in a flop of a single, "It Goes Like it Goes". She Then Began to record an album for the Company entitled "White Heat" (1982), a crtically aclaimed album, however the record company folded and the LP was put on limited release in the USA and Canada only. Springfield tried again in 1985 by singing to Peter Stringfellow's Hippodrome Records label, which a single called "Sometimes Like Butterflies", the song was realeased with a practice vocal of Springfield's where she had laryngitis, against her wishes. The singer in responce left the label.

Springfield's bad luck changed in 1987, when Springfield released a duet with the Pet Shop Boys called What Have I Done to Deserve This?, which was popular all across the world and led to a new renaissance for her work. She capitalized on her new fans by releasing Reputation, which was a best-selling album. She was diagnosed with breast cancer after releasing A Very Fine Love and died after a remission in 1999. Ten days after her death, Dusty Springfield was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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