Rick Springfield (ex-Noah/Eli, GH) was honored with the Beatrice Stern Media Award by Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services for helping erase the stigma associated with depression, which he has battled all his life. Springfield sat down with Digest at the Beverly Hilton Hotel to discuss his tragedies and triumphs….
“I actually never thought I’d get an award for being depressed, so it’s kind of cool,” begins Springfield. “If I had told myself that when I was 16, I might have not tried to hang myself.” Springfield candidly discussed his personal battles in his 2010 autobiography, Late, Late At Night, which peaked at No. 13 on The New York Times Best Seller list and was listed at No. 23 of “The 25 Great Rock Memoirs of All Time” by Rolling Stone. “I didn’t talk about it in my book for any altruistic reason,” he notes. “It was just a part of my life, and people happened to pick up on it. But in any case, I’m happy to show that you can still have a life and still deal with depression. That’s the main thing. As for being an advocate or anything like that, I’m still new at all this.”
Springfield reveals that when he was younger, he thought stardom was his ticket to mental health. “I grew up thinking, ‘I’ve just got to become famous and this will all go away,’ ” he reflects. “I’ve just got to become successful and wealthy and have a big house and beautiful wife and kids — and in 1985, I had all of those things. My first son had just been born. I had met the most amazing human in my wife, and I wanted to kill myself — and I realized the lie of fame right there. It wasn’t going to heal me. I had to go inside myself and so I spent the next five years in therapy.”
The performer is amazed by the massive outpouring of gratitude he has received since sharing his story in his book. “I didn’t necessarily set out to do that, but I was hoping that might happen,” he says. “I was very nervous about it coming out because it was warts and all. It’s funny, because I thought everyone would be focusing on all the sex stuff, because back in the ’80s there was a lot of sex — a lot of sex, like a real lot [laughs]. But, they weren’t. They focused on something that I thought no one would ever really notice or talk about, which was my depression that I’ve dealt with since I was 14. That was a big surprise to me, and it still seems to be snowballing after all this time. It’s very strange. But, I never really had the stigma of, ‘Oh, I can’t talk about this,’ because I’ve always been the kind of guy who goes out to seek help. It was not like, ‘What’s the big deal? Everyone gets depressed.’ I knew I had to do something. The best thing to come out of all this discussion has been with the kids. If you help kids, that makes it all worth it, because I was a kid with depression and it was brutal. I guess there’s still a big stigma about opening up if you have it, but if I can help with that, then I’m glad to do it.”
Though Springfield reports that he’s doing fine, he still faces Mr. D., a nickname he gave to the “darkness” that constantly dogs him. “Right now, I’m feeling pretty damn good,” he smiles. “But yeah, I still deal with it. I had an episode last year where I went so dark, I contemplated [suicide] again. I just don’t know where or when it’s going to strike, but I have my own ways of dealing with it. A lot of it is through writing. I’m always trying to put it into some kind of creative endeavor so it doesn’t just tank me.”
Currently, Springfield’s creative plate is full between performing, writing and seeking out new acting challenges. “We just started doing gigs with a 40-piece orchestra,” he enthuses. “The response has been incredible. It’s a completely different show than anything we’ve ever done. I have a storyteller show, where it’s just me and a guitar and I tell stories. I have the band show, where it’s a pedal to the metal, full, loud rock show, and now we have the symphony show, that is a completely other entity. I was unsure about it at first. I was worried about how different it would it be. We do different songs, so every set is different, but it has been going great. We’ve been adding a lot of gigs. I’m also looking for the next great TV role, because I’m still very hot on acting and I’d like to continue that. I’m also writing my second nonfiction book, a follow up to Magnificent Vibration [which also landed on The New York Times bestseller list, in 2014]. I don’t give a f–k what the critics say [laughs].”
As for a possible return to daytime, Springfield admits, “I don’t know. It’s such difficult work. Soap opera work is so completely time-consuming and so stressful because of the volume of work and the pace. I, like most actors, would much rather have more time to get into the character. To be honest, I don’t think I was ever particularly good at that type of acting. For me, I was just trying to get the words out. I know Doug [Davidson, Paul, Y&R] is brilliant at it. I’ve seen and worked with actors who just have it down. I can’t believe they’re so real and raw with 30 pages to spit out in a day. It’s quite a talent that is very underrated. I owe a lot to GENERAL HOSPITAL. It helped launch my career, so I would never, ever just blanketly say no. It still feels like home.”
For more information on coping with depression, go to www.didihirsch.org, and for Springfield’s current touring schedule, check out www.rickspringfield.com.
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: August 23
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
Birth Name: Richard Lewis Springthorpe
The Good Wife: Married to wife Barbara since October 27, 1984
The Sons Also Rise: Eldest Liam was born in 1985, followed by Joshua, born in 1989.
Port Charles Past: Springfield played Dr. Noah Drake from 1981-83; 2005-07; and made appearances in 2008, 2012 and 2013. He portrayed rocker Eli Love in 2007 and 2008.
DID YOU KNOW?
• When he won his Grammy in 1982 for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for “Jessie’s Girl,” he gave it to his mother.
• Springfield was the subject of the 2012 award-winning documentary An Affair Of The Heart, which details Springfield’s unique relationship with his longtime fans.
• Springfield played a demonic pastor in AMERICAN HORROR STORY: CULT in 2017, and in 2016 he recurred as Lucifer on SUPERNATURAL.
Music Man: Springfield has a series of concerts that keep him busy.
SIMPLY THE BESTS
“I’ve known Rick my entire adult life,” says Y&R’s Doug Davidson. “We met in an acting class in Hollywood in 1975 and hit it off instantly. Forty years ago, he accompanied me to my audition for YOUNG AND RESTLESS and even though Rick was unemployed at the time, he was then, and always has been, nothing but supportive. He deserves every bit of his success. I’ve never known anyone so focused and dedicated, not only to his career but also to his family and his friends. Rick has never taken anything for granted. He’s still works just as hard as when he was starting out, including doing more than 100 shows a year, and sometimes that kind of hard work leads to fatigue, which plays a role in depression. Rick has always been open about his experience with depression. He has never hidden it, and by talking about it, he became a role model for teens everywhere, because when you find out that a rock superstar has been though the same angst that you’re going through, it helps you realize that you can get through it, too.”
Adds Springfield, “I love Dougie. He has been my best friend forever and we have had so many great times together over the last 40-some years. I hope that will always continue.”
Star Shine: Receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 2014, Springfield was flanked by real-life pals Jason Thompson (Billy, Y&R, who played his son Patrick on GH, l.) and Doug Davidson (Paul, Y&R).
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