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Dusty Springfield

Dusty Springfield

Dusty Springfield (April 16, 1939 - March 2, 1999) was a British singer, known as one of the finest white soul singers of all time. She was born in Hampstead, London as Mary 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 like Breakaway and Bambino. 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. Similarly, her next two albums followed the same pattern, See All Her Faces (1972) and Cameo.

Springfield put her career on hold during the 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 and 1980s, but rarely charted and soon drifted from popular view.

This 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.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2003.

Dusty Springfield Facts

Birth Name Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien
BirthdayApril 16, 1939
BirthplaceHampstead, London, England, United Kingdom
Date of deathMarch 2, 1999 (age 59)

Selected Filmography

British Invasion: Dusty Springfield
Dusty Springfield: Live at the Royal Albert Hall
Dusty Springfield: Live at the BBC
Springfield, Dusty
The Soupy Sales Show
Bon Jovi, Dusty Springfield, David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Lionel Ritchie and Julio Iglesias
Dusty Springfield: Close My Eyes & Count
Just Dusty
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