Decades before he became TV's Dr. Noah Drake and a rock idol in MTV's golden age, he was merely Richard Springthorpe, a suicidal Australian teen who considered himself, as he laments, uglier than a baboon's rump.
In his new memoir Late, Late at Night, the man who would become Rick Springfield details his lifelong battle with depression — Mr. Darkness, he dubs it — and how it followed him along on his journey to superstardom.
Casual fans might cringe at times while reading the 320-page tome, which begins with an attempt to hang himself at age 17.
"It surprised even hard-core fans," the 61-year-old admits during a phone interview. "There's so much in there they didn't know."
Springfield returns to Florida on Saturday to play Ribfest in St. Petersburg. He took time out from his book tour to chat with the Times about his new book.
This book might shock those who saw Rick Springfield as a well-adjusted "bubble-gum" star.
I think the initial onslaught was a happy, shiny guy, you know. A lot of the hard-core fans — they've listened to the later albums — they know there's more going on. All my songs are written from a dark place. Even Jessie's Girl is a relationship that I couldn't make happen.
It's kind of bizarre to see you follow some of the darkest moments of the book with stabs at humor.
Self-deprecating remarks, probably more. That's just the way I am naturally. I wouldn't say I'm positive; in fact, I'm a glass-half-empty kind of guy a lot of the time.
Have you second-guessed being that frank in print?
No, not really. I was considerate about my wife (Barbara), that she be viewed appropriately. She's a strong woman and we hit all the issues head-on when they happened and dealt with them. We finally decided that we're better together than we are apart.
There are plenty of "rock star meets sex-crazed groupie" stories in there, too. Just curious: Did your parents ever sit you down for the bird-and-bees talk?
No, not really. My mom was raised by Victorian English parents and my dad was away a lot. I think the only thing my mom did was give me a book when I was about 11 called The Facts of Life. She said, "If there's any questions, just come and see me." I got a page into it and went to her and said, "What does 'erect' mean?" And she said "Go ask your father." So that was pretty much it.
Last year you basically played yourself on Showtime's Californication. How different was that gig from your General Hospital days back in the '80s?
Oh, light years. First of all, the writing is really great. Second, you're working with all really great-caliber actors. There are some great actors on soaps, but for me being on soaps was more about line memorization. Everyone is always struggling to remember all the lines because you have to do an hour a day. It's the toughest gig in acting. On a show like Californication, you get a week to shoot a half-hour. And movies is different again. You get 16 weeks to do 90 minutes.
Late in the book, you admit to turning down a smaller role as an astronaut in The Right Stuff to star in Hard To Hold.
Unfortunately I think my ego took over at that point. I thought, "I'm at this point now, hey, I'll do my own movie." It was a good, hard lesson to learn. A lot of the reason I put a lot of the self-deprecating stuff in the book is because I learned lessons from them. I made a step forward; that's why I don't regret anything — most things anyway.