Springfield followed up in 1983 with his sixth studio album Living In Oz , the term Oz is a colloquial reference to Australia, and the album was produced by Bill Drescher who had worked as sound engineer on Springfield’s two previous albums, Working Class Dog and Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me. Affair of the Heart was the lead single and it became Rick’s fourth top ten US hit when it climbed to #9 in 1983, Ronnie the bull terrier appears as mutiple images in a strap across the bottom of the artwork. The song intros with a moody synth bass and keyboards and quickly segues to the more familiar power pop tropes of Springfield’s previous hits, the promo clip intros with a restless, angsty Rick in bed, dreaming with tigers at the window, Tim Pierce delivered exemplary lead guitar, Affair charted in Australia at #26 in May 1983, and Rick also took Human Touch to a US #18 to make it two hits from this album Stateside.
The album became Springfield’s third consecutive million-selling charter when it hit #12 in the US, #20 in Canada and #45 in Aust, and he would follow up again in 1984 with the self-penned soundtrack to his most recent movie Hard To Hold, taking it to a million sales as well.
Rick’s local Australian market was however no longer viable, he had put down roots in California with his wife and family, and would ultimately become a US citizen. Hard To Hold was a painfully formulaic star vehicle for the singer, a pampered rock star accidently collides with a spirited young woman, who is a child psychologist (Janet Eiber), and doesn’t know or care who he is, so naturally he falls in love with her- it was Jessie’s Girl revisited, and cliched, trite and predictable as well, critics retitled it Hard to Watch. Movie trailer below.
Following their marriage in 1984, Rick and Barbara Porter settled down to a life of relative domesticity in the LA suburb of Toluca Lake, but Rick was working grueling hours, taping General Hospital, recording and touring the country to promote his records, and still leading a hectic social life as a whoring rock warrior while on the road.
During the filming of Hard to Hold Springfield worked on his next album Tao, the title reflected his growing interest in Eastern religions and transcendental meditation, and the lead single Love Somebody, was written in the penthouse suite of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, between shooting scenes with Patti Hansen, the future Mrs. Keith Richards (together above), who allegedly inspired some of the song’s lyrics.
Tao explored a different palette of computer/sequencer, synth-inflected music, big power pop guitars were replaced by the tighter grooves of the DMX electric drum machine and keyboard sequencer for the first time on a Springfield record. Mitchell Froom (Crowded House) co-produced the album and provided keyboards, and Springfield played guitar and programmed drums. Springfield has commented that he was still dealing with the death of his father at this time, and that this grief fed into his ongoing battle with depression, so the lyrics on Tao were darker and more introspective than in any previous album by Rick. Love Somebody took Springfield back into the US top 5, but it failed to chart in Australia, the darker tone of the song caused sales to stall at half a million, although at 5.7 million streams on Spotify, Love Somebody has more than proved its durability and undiminished appeal. Mondo Rock’s State of the Heart was also lifted from Tao and climbed to #22 in the US in 1985, making it a nice earner for Eric McCusker, who had written the song.
Married for just a year and now the father of an infant son (Liam) Rick was exhausted from five years of continual touring during which he had acted in a daily television show, starred in a movie, and written and recorded four albums. At the end of the 1985 tour he took a break that would, unexpectedly, last for three years, fatherhood and more mature introspection gave new depth to Rick’s writing, and many fans felt that 1988’s Rock of Life album was some of his best work.
Just days before he was to begin the Rock of Life tour, Rick was injured in an all-terrain-vehicle accident, breaking his left collar bone. Surgical insertion of a pin to repair the injury rendered him unable to hold a guitar for more than a year, so with no tour to spread the word and the momentum of the early ’80s successes long past, Rock of Life peaked at #55 in the U.S. .and quickly exited the charts.
Springfield continued to land acting roles in various short-lived TV series such as Nick Knight, The Human Target, and a guest spot on Californication (above with Kathleen Turner), there were also more substantial movie roles with Meryl Streep in Ricki and the Flash (below), and True Detective, Rick still tours occasionally on the US heritage rock circuit, and is a published author.
Rick Springfield scored no less than five top ten hits in the US from 1972-84, sold over 17 million records and with Helen Reddy, Olivia Newton-John, The Little River Band, Air Supply, Men at Work, AC/DC, and the Bee Gees, was one of the very successful group of Aussie expats known as the “Gum Leaf Mafia”, Australians who hit the US charts regularly throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. Rick became a published author with two books of fiction – Magnificent Vibration (2014) and World on Fire (2020), and he is the proud father of two sons Liam (b.’85) and Joshua (b.’89).Pictured below with wife Barbara and below left Joshua and Liam.