Book Reviews

Book Review: Late, Late at Night by Rick Springfield

I confess to having a huge crush on Rick Springfield for most of my life. Indeed, I was only eight years old when the cartoon Mission Magic came out, but I was a faithful viewer. I absolutely adored the lead character of Rick Springfield as well as the music. Then, nothing. It was like he dropped off of the face of the earth for years. The next time I saw him was in the first episode of Battlestar Galactica. Even then, he was promptly killed off, and I didn’t see him again until he showed up on a favorite soap of teenagers at that time, General Hospital.

My love for him goes way back, so when I saw this autobiography out there, I knew I had to read it. Springfield is candid. He doesn’t try to hide the poor side of his character, owns up to everything he did that was wrong, and gives accolades all over the place to the wife who stood by him when many others would have left. In a way, this is refreshing, since many musician autobiographies I’ve read try to downplay or outright deny events that surrounded being a musician for many years.

Rick was born in Australia, and was something of an Army brat, moving around quite a bit in his younger days. There were a number of incidents that made an impression on him, such as having to leave behind a beloved family dog when the family moved to the U.K. while his father was being trained on computers as the next step in Australia’s defense. Rick was used to being the new boy in town and all that went along with that, as well as having to leave behind the people he did become attached to.

This is important to know when reading Late, Late at Night because it explains a lot of what he did throughout his life. He seems to sabotage every relationship he’s in, but it’s likely a reaction to try to drive people away before they leave him. Springfield is also very candid about suffering from depression for most of his life, treating it as a character in his life. Having suffered from it myself, I can tell you it doesn’t matter how good-looking or successful you are, depression always finds a way to tear you down.

All of this created a person who had amazing talent and a lot of issues.

Rick writes candidly and the flow seems to be more of a stream of consciousness from a mind that’s still trying to grasp all that went on in his own life. At times his writing goes in tangents just like a brain does when someone is scattered and getting sidetracked. It has a disjointed feeling at times.

From his Australian roots, Springfield writes about joining a band and always seeming on the cusp of success. They went to Vietnam when the war was going on there, and he ended up on the front lines, ostensibly to entertain the troops, but they were in the middle of the conflict as well. From there, he decided he had to make his way to America if he was going to have any serious success. That was when he was snatched up and marketed as “the next David Cassidy” complete with his own cartoon show that I remembered.

Rick is honest about his screw-ups, most of which stem from what seems like a sex addiction by the end of the book. At first, I could say it was just typical of what surrounded musicians and the music industry at the time. By the end, however, it’s something worse. Springfield emphasizes how much he loves his wife and yet he cheats on her time and time again and doesn’t really think too much about it until he begins to see how much it hurts her. He does come clean to her numerous times, and I’d say she’s probably a saint for staying with him.

I think it’s easier for someone who has suffered through depression in their life to understand him. It’s easy to believe the bad stuff people say and carry it with you, no matter how “successful” your life might be otherwise. For Springfield, that translated into constantly wanting to prove that people wanted him and wanted to be around him. I could understand completely, while at the same time feeling sympathy for his wife who stuck by him. He’s got a good heart, as evidenced by how he goes above and beyond for people time and again.

In other words, Rick Springfield is a complex human with faults and kindness combined.

I appreciated his candidness and found Late, Late at Night to be a very interesting read. Others may have a harder time as it can be a bit disjointed to read it like it is his thought process, and it does kind of shatter the squeaky-clean image that was cultivated for him. Good riddance.

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