Any time Rick Springfield makes an appearance on a talk show, “Jessie’s Girl” inevitably is playing in the background.
His 1981 breakthrough piffle about pining for an unrequited love will follow him always, regardless of the 16 other Top 40 hits he’s managed throughout his 40-plus years in the industry — not to mention the acting gigs, the New York Times best-seller memoir in 2010, and his first work of fiction, “Magnificent Vibration.” The latter, published in May, was called “a rollicking romp of a book” by gazillion-selling author Mitch Albom.
Springfield will swing by the Buckhead Barnes & Noble at 7 p.m. Friday for a book signing and quick acoustic performance, then on Saturday he launches a summer tour, joining old friend Pat Benatar and her husband Neil Giraldo for a full, riff-cranking show with their bands at Chastain Park Amphitheatre. (William Beckett will open, followed by Springfield and then Benatar.)
It’s somewhat unbelievable, considering his undiminished looks and still-floppy hair, but Springfield turns 65 in August. However, he’s still ready to “Celebrate Youth” and share the “Human Touch” onstage.
In a recent phone interview from his home in California, Springfield talked about being an author, playing the hits live, and getting stuck in the Atlanta snow earlier this year.
Q: This is the first time you’re touring with Neil and Pat, yet Neil played guitar on “Jessie’s Girl.”
A: He added a lot to that song — it’s part of the reason it became so successful. It surprised me that we hadn’t toured in the 30-plus years that we’ve known each other. I see them at the gym every now and then and we live in the same town. But everyone always had their own stuff going on.
Q: This is probably the first time you’ll be back in Atlanta since you got stuck in our February snowstorm and hitched a ride out with Jay DeMarcus (of Rascal Flatts).
A: Oh my God, that’s right! I was there to film “Drop Dead Diva” and had to get to Nashville for a couple of gigs. I thought I was OK getting out by plane, and then they canceled all of the flights. Jay was there, too, and said, if you need a ride, send me a text. So I did!
Q: You’ve been doing acoustic shows around the country. Aside from the obvious difference, like plugging in instruments, how will these shows with Pat be different?
A: This will be hits-driven. We both have 75 minutes to play, so we’ll keep it tight. I’ll probably do a couple of songs from the most recent record, “Songs From the End of the World,” since they go over well live.
Q: So, aside from your music, you must be proud to now have had two books on the New York Times best-seller list (Springfield’s 2010 autobiography, “Late, Late at Night,” peaked at No. 13 and “Magnificent Vibration” debuted at No. 18).
A: I am proud. It’s a small group to be part of — musician, actor, fiction and nonfiction writer.
Q: Think you have another one in you?
A: I’m almost finished with the sequel (to “Magnificent Vibration”). It’s going to be set someplace very particular. I don’t know about a release yet. I’m a couple of weeks from finishing it and then we’ll see about revisions. I write on the road, on airplanes. I take my laptop into hotels. There’s actually a lot of downtime on the road. That’s how I wrote my autobiography.
Q: But, still, you had to do some balancing of time between writing and touring and acting and everything else that you do.
A: I’ve been writing all my life. The only decent attention I ever got at school was for my essays, and I always wanted to get back to it. I wrote my own autobiography, I didn’t have a ghost writer or anything, and that showed me that I could finish a book that people liked, because you just don’t know.
Q: You’ve gotten some high-end praise for this book. Did that surprise you?
A: Booklist and Kirkus are two literary magazines that love to slam guys who have written a couple of pop songs. I got better reviews for the book than for my music!
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
For more of the Rick Springfield interview, visit the Music Scene blog at AJC.com.