If get this right, there will be many cover versions by future bands. I shall try and link live versions if they exist from the tellybox or a film, the sound quality may not be the best, but there is nothing like watching a real talent live.
So, in a sort of chronological order, my twenty fourth legend is: Dusty Springfield
Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien (OBE) (16 April 1939 – 2 March 1999), known professionally as Dusty Springfield, was an English singer whose career spanned over five decades. With her distinctive mezzo-soprano sound, she was a significant singer of blue-eyed soul, pop and dramatic ballads, with French chanson, country, and jazz also in her repertoire. During her 1960s peak, she ranked among the most successful British female performers on both sides of the Atlantic. Her image – marked by a peroxide blonde bouffant/beehive hairstyle, heavy makeup (thick black eyeliner and eye shadow) and evening gowns, as well as stylised, gestural performances – made her an icon of the Swinging Sixties.
Born in West Hampstead in London into a family that enjoyed music, Springfield learned to sing at home. In 1958, she joined her first professional group, The Lana Sisters. Two years later, with her brother Tom Springfield and Tim Feild, Springfield formed the folk-pop vocal trio The Springfields. Two of their five 1961–63 Top 40 UK hits – “Island of Dreams” and “Say I Won’t Be There” – reached no. 5 in the charts, both in the spring of 1963. In 1962 they also hit big in the States with their cover of “Silver Threads and Golden Needles“.
Springfield’s solo career began in late 1963 with the upbeat pop record “I Only Want to Be with You” — a UK no. 4 hit, and the first of her six transatlantic Top 40 hits in the 1960s, along with “Stay Awhile” (1964), “All I See Is You” (1966), “I’ll Try Anything” (1967) and the two releases now considered her signature songs: “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” (1966 UK no. 1/US no. 4) and “Son of a Preacher Man” (1968/69 UK no. 9/US no. 10). The latter features on the 1968 pop and soul album Dusty in Memphis, one of Springfield’s defining works. In March 2020, the US Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry, which preserves audio recordings considered to be “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”. Between 1964 and 1969 Springfield hit big in her native Britain with several singles which in America either failed to chart or were not released, among them “I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself“, “Some of Your Lovin'”, “Goin’ Back” and “I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten“. Conversely, she charted in the US (but not in the UK) with hits including “Wishin’ and Hopin’ ”, “The Look of Love” and “The Windmills of Your Mind“.
Between 1971 and 1986, Springfield failed to register a hit from five album releases (aside from a minor 1979 UK chart appearance), but her 1987 collaboration with UK synthpop duo the Pet Shop Boys, “What Have I Done to Deserve This?“, took her back to the top of the charts, reaching no. 2 on both the UK singles chart and Billboard‘s Hot 100. The collaboration also yielded two 1989 UK Top 20 hits: “Nothing Has Been Proved” and “In Private“. In 1990, Springfield charted with “Reputation” – the last of 25 Top 40 UK hits in which she features.
A fixture on British television, Springfield presented many episodes of the hip 1963–66 British TV music series Ready Steady Go! and, between 1966 and 69, hosted her own series on the BBC and ITV. In 1966, Springfield topped the popularity polls, including Melody Maker‘s Best International Vocalist, and was the first UK singer to top the New Musical Express readers’ poll for Female Singer. She is a member of both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame. International polls have lauded Springfield as one of the finest female popular singers of all time.
The featured song You Don’t Have To Say You Love is an all time favourite tune of mine. Released in 1966 which was a wonderful year. I remember watching her on Ready Steady Go! and singing this. Other memorable shows from the era were the brand-new show Dr Who, and England winning the world cup. All watched in glorious black and white on a small telly, where you had to manoeuvre the aerial for 10 minutes before you got a picture, and woe betide anyone moving it once you had a picture.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, gay or bisexual performers “knew that being ‘out’ would lead to prurient media attention, loss of record contracts. The tabloids became obsessively interested in the contents of celebrity closets”. Springfield was never reported to be in a heterosexual relationship, and this meant that the issue of her sexual orientation was raised frequently during her life. From mid-1966 to the early 1970s Springfield lived in a domestic partnership with fellow singer Norma Tanega.
By mid-1996, the breast cancer she had from 1994 had returned, and despite vigorous treatments, she died in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on the 2nd March 1999, several weeks before her 60th birthday. A very sad loss, she had a wonderful voice.
A full discography is here: – Dusty Springfield
Her first hit was in 1963 with:
I only want to be with you – Nice colour version this, live on the Michael Aspel show in 1989, truly unforgettable and wonderful tune.
Stay Awhile – Live performance from the American Bandstand show in 1964.
Wishin’ and hopin’ – This bought back some memories. This is from some show in the mid 60’s, good quality and shows she really did have one of the finest vocals of all time.
I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself – Live performance, from the mid 60’s.
Middle Of Nowhere – Live, again mid 60’s. Super song.
Little By Little – I remember dancing to this at the local youth club disco on Thursday nights.
Going Back – Lovely ballad, again showing just how good her vocals where.
Look of Love – Terrific live performance this.
I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten – Live show (in colour) from 1973, magnificent.
Petshop Boys & Dusty Springfield What Have I Done To Deserve This – I really like this. From the 80’s. Respect to the Pet Shop boys, they worked with her on 3 records, I think.
Along with the featured song, perhaps my favourite though is this classic:
Son Of A Preacher Man – From the Ed Sullivan Show from 1968. Absolutely awesome song and the vocals are incredible.
Singalong, enjoy and be happy!
Links to previous Legend articles:
Featured image: “Recreation of Dusty Springfield recording session” by Bob Bekian is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
© Phil the ex test manager 2021