Rick Springfield and Richard Marx have both garnered Grammy awards for their pop tunes, and each has sold albums in the 25-million-plus range. In their joint Wolf Trap debut, the ’80s pop heartthrobs will join forces for a stripped-down, unplugged storytellers concert on Sept. 10.
With a collection of memorable ballads, including “Right Here Waiting,” “Endless Summer Nights” and “Now and Forever,” Marx was a staple on MTV and the radio in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and his songs continue to be played at proms and weddings around the world. He was the first solo artist to have his first seven singles hit the Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
“I write every song for my own selfish purposes, to either celebrate feelings or purge them. Sometimes the songs contain commentary about things I think about, but again, they’re designed only as expressions of me,” Marx says. “The amazing thing is when people all over the world relate to these songs as if I was speaking to them. I can’t contrive that. It’s just a humbling gift that’s happened throughout my career. It’s awesome.”
Of course, not every one of his songs is a ballad, as he also was responsible for pop rock favorites like “Don’t Mean Nothing” and “Satisfied.”
Additionally, Marx has had great success writing for other artists, including hits such as NSYNC’s “This I Promise You,” Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father” and Keith Urban’s “Long Hot Summer.” He said he never has second thoughts about whether he should have kept a big hit for himself.
“If I write something personal, I never think of offering it to someone else. And if someone has a huge hit with one of my songs, I’m nothing but thrilled.”
“It’s never been a dilemma. Many of those songs I wrote with the artists and the point was to serve their vision of what they wanted to say, not mine,” Marx says. “If I write something personal, I never think of offering it to someone else. And if someone has a huge hit with one of my songs, I’m nothing but thrilled.”
Although his last album of fresh material was released a few years ago, he did find success with the single, “Last Thing I Wanted” last year. He just doesn’t feel new albums are particularly viable anymore.
“I truly don’t know anyone in years who has sat down and listened to a whole album. People are too ADHD. They might listen to music but usually only when texting friends or checking Instagram,” he says. “So I don’t know what the ‘album’ really represents anymore. But I do have a bunch of songs written I’d love people to hear and am figuring out how and when to put them out.”
The Australian-born Springfield has done just about everything you can do in the entertainment business. He first took America by storm in the ’80s with hits such as “Jessie’s Girl,” “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” and “Affair of the Heart,” all the while captivating audiences as Dr. Noah Drake on the soap opera General Hospital. He expanded into films with a starring role in Hard to Hold and even wrote a New York Times best selling autobiography, Late, Late at Night.
“You can’t just write about how everything is all good and bore people out of their minds. When different emotions come up, I just go with that.”
His most recent album, Rocket Science, address matters of the heart with the irreverence, wit, and dark humor that has always permeated his work.
“I wanted the album to be very open and electric — rock and roll with some country elements, and always with great hooks,” he says. “You can’t just write about how everything is all good and bore people out of their minds. When different emotions come up, I just go with that. I don’t set out to write about anything in particular. I just look for something that feels true and that I can hopefully say in an interesting way.”
Two years ago, Springfield released his first fiction book, the black comedy, Magnificent Vibration, which features a hero who has hit a dead end in his life but who serendipitously receives an 800 connection to God via an inscription in a mysterious self-help book and may have a shot at saving the planet.
“I really started out as a kid wanting to be a writer and it was the only thing I ever got any attention for at school,” Springfield says. “Music took over and I directed that writing towards song writing but it always was in the back of my mind. I read a lot and certainly have formed ideas through the years. My publisher liked my voice from my autobiography and said I should be writing fiction.”
However, Springfield has not slowed down from his music. In addition to his tour with Marx, the singer will be playing on an ’80s-inspired cruise and teaming with Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo on select dates.
“When I walk on stage and see bodies in the seats, it’s a real gift for me,” Springfield says. “I know I wouldn’t be on the road if not for those who show up and support me.”