Dusty Springfield
Dusty Springfield

Dusty Springfield Biography (BBC)

Dusty Springfield’s 1969 album Dusty In Memphis, which spawned the single Son of a Preacher Man (later featured in the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film, Pulp Fiction), isn’t just Springfield’s greatest work, it’s widely considered to be one of the best albums ever recorded. And yet it sold poorly on release and, at the time, was an attempt to reinvigorate her career. She had fallen out of favour with music fans on both sides of the Atlantic as psychedelic rock made artists then bracketed as “girl singers” seem dated.

But Springfield was always far more than a “girl singer”. She’s arguably the greatest white soul singer Britain has ever produced (Elton John called her “the greatest white singer there ever has been... Every song she sang, she claimed as her own” when he inducted her into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) with an enormous and timeless body of work covering the late 1950s up to her death from breast cancer in 1999, aged 59.

She was born in London in 1939 and first came to national attention with folk trio The Springfields. Her first solo single, I Only Want To Be With You, was a No. 4 hit in 1963. She was one of the first artists to appear on Top of the Pops in 1964, and achieved further fame by hosting, and performing on, a 1965 Motown special of the ITV music show Ready Steady Go!, which gave The Temptations, The Supremes, The Miracles and Stevie Wonder their first UK television appearances.

Springfield’s 1966 UK No.1, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, was voted among the All Time Top 100 Songs by the listeners of BBC Radio 2 in 1999, and it was a hit in America too, reaching No.4. In 1966, she also hosted a six-part weekly BBC music and talk show, Dusty.

I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten was a UK Top 5 hit in 1968, but by then her touring career was in tatters. Considered passé, she was performing in working men’s clubs, hotels and cabarets. Signing to Atlantic Records in 1969 - home of Springfield’s hero Aretha Franklin - was a masterstroke, and Dusty In Memphis, recorded with crack American musicians, gave Springfield the critical respect she deserved. Her albums in the 1970s and 1980s never sold well, but were praised, and she became known to a new generation of pop fans in 1987, singing with Neil Tennant on the No.2 Pet Shop Boys hit, What Have I Done to Deserve This.

The career-spanning documentary Definitely Dusty was shown on BBC Four in September 2015, along with a separate broadcast of Springfield’s many performances at the BBC.

Dusty Springfield Biography (Wikipedia)

Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien OBE (16 April 1939 – 2 March 1999), professionally known as Dusty Springfield, was an English pop singer and record producer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s. With her distinctive mezzo-soprano sound, she was an important singer of blue-eyed soul and at her peak was one of the most successful British female performers, with six top 20 singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 and sixteen on the UK Singles Chart from 1963 to 1989. She is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and UK Music Hall of Fame. International polls have named Springfield among the best female rock artists of all time. Her image, supported by a peroxide blonde bouffant hairstyle, evening gowns, and heavy make-up, as well as her flamboyant performances, made her an icon of the Swinging Sixties.

Born in West Hampstead in London to a family that enjoyed music, Springfield learned to sing at home. In 1958 she joined her first professional group, The Lana Sisters, and two years later formed a pop-folk vocal trio, The Springfields, with her brother Tom Springfield and Tim Feild. They became the UK's top selling act. Her solo career began in 1963 with the upbeat pop hit, "I Only Want to Be with You". Among the hits that followed were "Wishin' and Hopin' " (1964), "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself" (1964), "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" (1966), and "Son of a Preacher Man" (1968).

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