Today, the Google Doodle celebrates the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dusty Springfield, an English singer whose expansive career ran over the course of more than 50 years. The date today, 8 November, is significant to Springfield’s life as it was the day that she released her first solo single I Only Want To Be With You, back in 1963.
This is everything you need to know.
Who was Dusty Springfield?
Springfield, whose real name was Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien, was an English singer who was born in West Hampstead in London on 16 April 1939. Her passion for music manifested at a young age, and in 1958 she joined her first professional music group - The Lana Sisters.
A few years later, Springfield teamed up with her brother, Tom Springfriend and Tim Feild, to create The Springfields, with the trio enjoying hits like Breakaway, Bambino, Say I Won’t Be There and Island of Dreams.
She left The Springfields in 1963 and released her first solo track, I Only Want to Be With You, on 8 November 1963, which peaked at number four in the UK charts in January the following year.
What followed was a career that brought Springfield critical acclaim, with huge hits in the UK and America, and an induction into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the UK Music Hall of Fame.
What were her biggest songs?
Over the course of her career, Springfield released 21 studio albums, one live album, 30 compilations, four extended plays and 69 singles.
Some of her biggest songs include:
- Son of a Preacher Man
- You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
- The Look of Love
- I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
- I Only Want to Be With You
- Wishin’ and Hopin’
- I Can’t Make It Alone
- The Look of Love
- Stay Awhile
- What’s It Gonna Be
- Little by Little
- Goin’ Back
- Give Me Time
- A Brand New Me
Was she married?
Springfield was never reported to have been in a relationship with a man, meaning that the topic of her sexuality was subject to much speculation throughout her career. While the singer is known now to be a lesbian, the stigma was something that she clearly struggled with in her life, stating in an interview with Chris Van Ness of the Los Angeles Free Press that she “wanted to be straight” but that she “can’t love a man”.
She said: “I mean, people say that I’m gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay. I’m not anything. I’m just... People are people... I basically want to be straight... I go from men to women; I don’t give a s**t. The catchphrase is: I can’t love a man. Now, that’s my hang-up. To love, to go to bed, fantastic; but to love a man is my prime ambition.... They frighten me.”
In the authorised biography of Springfield, called Dancing With Demons by Penny Valentine and Vicki Wickham, it said that that the singer lived in “fear of losing her career if exposed as a lesbian”.
Regarding Springfield’s sexuality, tennis player Billie Jean King, who knew the singer well, told the South Bank Show in 2006: “[Springfield] wanted to be true to herself… and she had a lot of demons because of it. I think her sexuality was difficult because I think she knew she was gay by this time, and there is no way back in the 60s and 70s that you were gonna talk about it.”
From 1966 to the early 1970s, Springfield was involved with a fellow singer, Norma Tanega, and throughout the 70s and 80s, she was involved in a number of romantic relationships with women in Canada and America. She was in an on again, off again relationship with the American photojournalist Faye Harris from 1972 to 1978, and in 1981 she dated Rough Trade singer Carole Pope for six months.
In 1982, Springfield met American actress Teda Bracci (Falcon Crest, Hocus Pocus) at an Alcoholic Anonymous meeting. The pair moved in together in 1983 and in November of that year, exchanged vows at a wedding that was not recognised at the time under California law.
However, the pair separated within two years due to what was described as a “tempestuous” relationship.
When did she die?
Following the recording of her penultimate album, A Very Fine Love, in Tennessee, Springfield returned to England in 1994, where she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After receiving chemotherapy, her cancer was declared to be in remission, however, by the middle of 1996, it had returned.
Springfield passed away on 2 March 1999, in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, shortly before her 60th birthday.
Her funeral was held at the church of St Mary the Virgin and was attended by hundreds of fans, as well as her fellow musicians, including the likes of Elvis Costello, Lulu and Pet Shop Boys.