Dusty Springfield

Dusty Springfield
With her beehive hairdo and panda-eye mascara, Dust Springfield was one of the greatest soul singers of the 60's and 70's. Even as her genres of choice changed from folk to pop and disco to R&B and soul, her music remained remarkably true to her signature sound.

Born Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien in 1939, she grew up in her hometown of London, where she had her first proffessional musical experience with a vocal group called the Lana Sisters. In 1960, she and her brother Dion, along with Tim Field, formed a folk trio called The Springfields, which became a popular act in Britain. Shortly after the group's first hit in the U.S. the trio toured the country, visiting Nashville Tennessee, where Dusty was so inspired by the Motown sound that she left the group to pursue a solo career.

It did not take her long to release her first hit single as a soul artist, and by 1964, Dusty Springfield was one the biggest solo acts in the world. Her fortunes began to fall with the rise of psychedelic music in the late 60's, and she went from label to label looking for a successful match. Finally, she released Dusty in Memphis in 1969, to great critical acclaim and almost no commercial success. One song from the album, "Son of a Preacher Man," did do well, however, becoming one her most well known titles.

Through the 70's Springfield continued to record critically praised material with little commercial success, and by the 80's she wanted to forget the past decade and start anew. Her fortunes finally changed for the better in 1987, when she recorded a song with the Pet Shop Boys, "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" which became a global smash hit.

She died in 1999 from breast cancer, ten days before her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The unparalleled sophistication of her music and sultry intimacy of her voice makes her well deserving of the worldwide recognition she received for her career.

  • In 1964 Dusty Springfield ignited a controversy when she refused to play for an audience in South Africa because it was segregated.

  • Never afraid of controversy, she spoke openly of her bisexuality in interviews, beginning in the 70's.

  • In addition to her place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Springfield also received an OBE, Order of the British Empire, for her musical contributions.

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