CLEARWATER — In 1981, Rick Springfield steamed up the airwaves with his No. 1 hit single Jessie's Girl.
The megahit launched him into stardom, snagging him a Grammy Award for best male rock vocal performance in 1982. And Springfield's role as heartthrob Dr. Noah Drake on the daytime soap General Hospital provided additional rocket fuel for his career.
On Saturday night, the 62-year-old rock doc is back, headlining the 59th annual Fun 'N Sun Festival at Coachman Park. He'll be sharing some newer songs and old favorites, including Jessie's Girl.
During a phone conversation, the Aussie-born songster/musician explained that the subject of his sexual angst was a girl in a stained glass class he was taking "just in case the music thing didn't work out."
"She got away," he said. "We never consummated. It was just a hot moment."
Instead, he found another girl named Barbara Porter and married her. Their union produced two sons and has lasted nearly 30 years — even through his infidelities and serious bouts of depression that he candidly writes about in his book, Late, Late at Night.
His illness and the decision to devote more time to his family in the mid '80s waylaid his career, but his fans — especially the women — now turn out in droves to support him as he performs at 80 to 100 concerts a year.
Over his 30-plus-year years in the business, Springfield has produced 17 Top 40 hits and sold more than 20 million records. His most recent studio release, Venus in Overdrive (2008), debuted on the Billboard chart at No. 28 — his highest chart position since the 1980s.
In 2009, he released a children's lullaby album, My Precious Little One, with songs he wrote for his sons when they were little. He's working on another CD right now.
A new documentary, An Affair of the Heart, is about Springfield and his special connection with his fans. Directed and produced by Emmy Award-winning Sylvia Caminer, it made its world premiere at the Florida Film Festival on April 14.
"I thought it would turn out to be some puff piece, but it's not," he said. "I've never seen a documentary with this kind of perspective. It's startling."