Dusty Springfield, who was born Mary Isobel Catherine O'Brien April 16, 1939 was a very popular British singer whose career spanned more than four decades. She achieved her most notable success during the 1960s, with a successful comeback in the late 80's
At the age of 11 she went into a local record shop in Ealing and made her first record, an amateur recording of the Irving Berlin song "When The Midnight Choo Choo Leaves For Alabama". Her first professional musical experience was with the British vocal group the Lana Sisters, which she joined in 1958; the group recorded several singles with over the next two years. In 1960 she joined her brother Dion O'Brien and Tim Feild, who were a double act calling themselves "The Kensington Squares". The act was now renamed The Springfields. According to Tim Feild, they picked the name when practising in a field in Somerset in the spring that year. Mary took the name Dusty Springfield after forming the group, and her brother Dion took the name Tom Springfield. They signed their first contract with Philips Records. After Tim Feild left the group, he was replaced by Mike Hurst and the trio became even more successful. Soon, the Springfields became a very popular act in Britain with singles such as "Breakaway", "Bambino" and their biggest hit "Island of Dreams". By 1962, the Springfields had had some success in the United States with "Silver Threads and Golden Needles". Pre-Beatles, this was a very unusual achievement for a British act.
In late 1963, she left The Springfields to establish herself as a solo singer. Her brother and Mike Hurst both gave up performing and moved into production. Tom Springfield scored major hits in the UK, USA and Australia as producer (and also primary songwriter) for the UK-based Australian folk-pop band The Seekers.
Her first single came only a few months after her departure from the Springfields. The song, "I Only Want To Be With You", became a success in both Britain and the United States. It was followed by a series of successful singles, including "Stay Awhile", "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself", and "Losing You". Springfield recorded a number of Bacharach-David compositions, including "Wishin' and Hopin'", which was a top ten hit for her in 1964. Another Bacharach-David song, which was noteworthy and which was specifically written for her was "The Look of Love".
By 1964, Springfield was one of the biggest solo artists of her day. Other popular Springfield singles included "Your Hurtin' Kinda Love" and "In the Middle of Nowhere", culminating in her biggest hit, and her first (and only) UK #1 single, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me". Springfield's UK success led to her starring in her own BBC television series, Dusty (1966-7), followed by an ITV series "It Must Be Dusty" in 1968. She returned to the BBC for her final series "Definitely Dusty" in 1969. Her shows featured many leading stars of the day as guests. One of the most memorable was Jimi Hendrix, who appeared in a duet with Springfield on the song "Mockingbird". (The master videotape of this appearance was later erased, although a brief fragment of Hendrix's performance on the show, filmed directly off the TV screen by a fan, has survived.)
Like so many other solo singers who did not write their own material, Springfield's recording career was dependent on the quality of the material she could obtain, and by the end of the decade, top-notch material was becoming harder to find: Carole King, who had written two of her biggest hits, "Some of Your Lovin'" and "Goin' Back", was embarking on a singing career, and the chart-busting Bacharach-David partnership was foundering. In the late 1960s she found herself becoming "unhip" at a time when hipness was necessary for musical success.
In hope to revive her career she signed with Atlantic Records and began recording an album in Memphis, Tennessee with producers Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd. The Memphis sessions were a challenge for Wexler, who was astounded by Springfield's infamous perfectionism, which she later attributed to her deep insecurity and her very real anxiety about being compared with the soul greats who had recorded there. In the end, the Memphis tracking sessions were completed without any major work being done on the vocals -- in fact, almost all her vocals were cut some weeks later in at a studio in New York. Despite the problems with its production, the album, Dusty in Memphis is considered Springfield's definitive work; it has appeared in several "best of all time" lists. The album is best known for "Son of a Preacher Man", which was a hit in both the United Kingdom and the United States, though the album itself was a commercial disappointment.
In the same year, From Dusty With Love (1970) was just as unsuccessful commercially as Dusty in Memphis. A third album for the Atlantic label, produced by Jeff Barry, was abandoned because of unsuccessful single releases. The masters were later destroyed in a fire, but Barry had kept copies of the intended final mixes, and most of the material surfaces on 1999's Deluxe reissue of "Memphis" (Rhino Records). Her next album, See All Her Faces (1972), released only in Britain, was a mix of tracks recorded between 1969 and 1971, which resulted in a lack of the cohesive feeling that her previous two albums possessed. In 1973 Springfield signed to the ABC Dunhill Records label: this resulted in the album Cameo in (1973).
The following year she began to record another album, with the working title of Elements, later re-titled Longing, to be produced by Brooks Arthur, who had produced several hit records by singer-songwriters such as Janis Ian. During these sessions, Springfield cut a rendition of Ian's "In the Winter" that is among her most critically acclaimed recordings. Longing was eventually abandoned due to Springfield's failing mental health, but much of the material from it was later released on the 2001 compilation Beautiful Soul. She continued to release critically lauded but commercially unsuccessful albums and singles throughout the late 1970s for the United Artists Records label, resulting in the albums It Begins Again (1978) and Living Without Your Love (1979). During this time Springfield rarely charted and soon drifted from popular view.
She then endured a string of bad luck with record companies. She released two final singles for her British label Mercury Records. The first was "Baby Blue", which reached the top 70. The other was "Your Love Still Brings Me to My Knees", which was the singer's swan song for Phonogram. She signed a deal with 20th Century Records, which resulted in an unsuccessful single, a cover of "It Goes Like It Goes" from Norma Rae. She then began to record an album for Twentieth Century Fox entitled White Heat (1982). The label was then bought by Casablanca, which temporarily hindered the project. The album was a departure from Springfield's sound, and featured music and lyrics similar in style and substance to the New Wave genre. The album was critically acclaimed; however, the LP was put on limited release in the USA and Canada only. Not long after its release, the Casablanca Records label also folded, and "White Heat" was eventually absorbed into the Universal Music Group along with Dusty's Phonogram recordings. Springfield tried again in 1985 by signing to Peter Stringfellow's Hippodrome Records label, which resulted in a single called "Sometimes Like Butterflies".
Springfield's fortunes finally changed in 1987, when she was approached by the British pop duo Pet Shop Boys to collaborate with them on a song called "What Have I Done to Deserve This?", which was a huge chart success in Britain (#2) and the USA (also #2). The song subsequently appeared on the Pet Shop Boys album Actually and both of their greatest hits compilations, as well as Dusty's first-ever U.S. anthology, titled..."the Dusty Springfield Anthology" in 1997. Also in 1987, Springfield provided vocals on Richard Carpenter's single "Something In Your Eyes," which was a #12 Adult Contemporary hit in the U.S. A new greatest hits collection "The Silver Collection" was released in 1988 and charted on the strength of the renewed interest in her music. The following year she was approached once again by the Pet Shop Boys to sing the theme song from the film Scandal, about the 1960's British political scandal known as the Profumo Affair. That track, "Nothing Has Been Proved", was also a Top 20 hit in the UK and was followed by a further Top 20 single, the up-beat "In Private", also written and produced by the Pet Shop Boys.
She capitalized on this success by recording an album, released in 1990, Reputation, which also reached the Top 20, with the single of the same name reaching number 38 in the charts. The album was partially written and produced by the Pet Shop Boys (In Private and Nothing Has Been Proved being included on the album) as well as other contributors such as Dan Hartman.
These successes persuaded Springfield that the time was right to leave California and return back to Buckinghamshire, England. In 1993, she was invited to record a duet with her former 60's rival and friend Cilla Black ("Heart And Soul"), which appeared on Cilla's "Through the Years" album on the Sony label and was released as a single. This led to the offer of a recording contract with Sony Records and the making of what was to be her final album, "A Very Fine Love". Though Springfield was emphatic that 'A Very Fine Love' was not a country album, it did include several songs by well-known Nashville songwriters, and arrangments typical of the genre. Springfield's last ever recording would be a rendition of "Someone To Watch Over Me". It was intended for use in an insurance ad campaign, and saw release on "Simply Dusty", an extensive anthology of her career which she had helped to plan but would not live to see released.
source: wikipedia +