Friday, December 27, 2013

Dusty Springfield, The #64 Female Artist of the Rock Era*

Dusty Springfield (real name Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien) was born in London and she learned to sing at home.  She attended St. Anne's Convent School in Northfields, an all-girl school.  Dusty recorded her first song at age twelve, performing the Irving Berlin song "When The Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabam".  In 1958, she joined the Lana Sisters and two years later formed a pop-folk act, the Springfields, with brother Tom. 

Springfield's solo career began in 1964 with "I Only Want to Be With You", which gave her a #12 hit in the United States and a #4 smash in the U.K.

Dusty was back later in the year with one of her biggest career hits, the Burt Bacharach-penned "Wishin' And Hopin'", which peaked at #6.

Another song featured on her debut album was a big hit in the U.K. (#3) but did not chart in North America--"I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself".

In 1966, Springfield peaked at #4 in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K. with this smash.

By this time, Dusty was the top-selling female singer in the world and she was voted by music fans as the Best International Vocalist in a Melody Maker poll.  In 1967, Dusty recorded a Bacharach-Hal David song that would be featured in the James Bond spoof, Casino Royale.  Highly underrated, it peaked at #22 but garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture.

In 1969, Dusty recorded the album Dusty in Memphis, that would later be awarded a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame.  She landed another Top 10 song with "Son-Of-A Preacher Man", which earned Dusty a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Springfield recorded this song for the original The Thomas Crown Affair starring Steve McQueen.  Another highly underrated song that only reached #31.

In the mid-70's, Dusty liked to sing backup vocals for other artists, and she used the name Gladys Thong to sing for Elton John ("The Bitch Is Back"), Anne Murray and Kiki Dee.  Dusty would go 20 years without a Top 10 song before teaming with the Pet Shop Boys to record "What Have I Done to Deserve This?".  The single reached #2 in 1988.

Springfield charted 19 career hits with 4 Top 10's although as mentioned above, she had several others that should have attained Top 10 status if national charts had a proper methodology.  If we're right, millions of people will now buy her music and in the next version of The Top 100 Female Artists*, she'll be much higher.  She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

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