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Rick Springfield going gangbusters at 63

Rick Springfield headlines Naperville's Ribfest July 6. | GETTY IMAGES

Rick Springfield headlines Naperville's Ribfest on July 6. | GETTY IMAGES

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♦ 8:30 p.m., July 6

♦ Naperville Exchange Club’s Ribfest, Knoch Park, Naperville

♦ Tickets: $12-$15

♦ (630) 259-1129;

During a show in front of 30,000 people at the Sweden Rock Festival in June, a shirtless Rick Springfield was leading a rowdy sing-along of his 1983 hit “Human Touch” when the 63-year-old father of two decided to hoist himself onto the shoulders of a very surprised security guard and take an unrehearsed ride through the sweaty crowd.

“That’s what happens when my momentum starts rolling,” laughs Springfield, who will headline the Ribfest Navistar Stage in July 6 in Naperville. “I certainly didn’t plan to climb on his shoulders. I could feel him trembling a bit halfway into our trek into the crowd and I started wondering what exactly was going to do if I fell. He told me afterwards that I was a lot heavier than he thought.”

And so goes the often unpredictable personal and professional life of Springfield, who could have easily been written off as just another ’80s heartthrob years ago. Yet, Springfield remains somewhat of a freak of pop music nature that seems to get smarter and more impressive as the years go by. As a man who has found success in everything from music to acting to publishing, Springfield just might finally be getting the respect now eluded him for so long.

Since first picking up a guitar at the age of 12 in his native Australia, Springfield has sold over 25 million records, earned 17 Top 40 hits such as “Jessie’s Girl,” “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “Love Somebody,” found himself the subject of documentaries such as “An Affair of the Heart” and Dave Grohl’s 2013’s “Sound City,” and the author of his revealing autobiography “Late, Late at Night.”

“When I was a kid, there were times that the only thing I did was play guitar and read,” says Springfield, whose first fiction novel, “Magnificent Vibration” will be released next year. “I couldn’t afford all the books I wanted, so to be honest with you, I would just steal them. If I had to stay home from school, instead of doing dope or watching television, I would read.”

This love of reading shines though not only his songwriting, most recently on his release of his 17th studio album “Songs for the End of the World,”,but also within the eloquence in which he speaks of not only his past, but what lies ahead in his future.

“There are elements in my life that I am happy with,” says Springfield, who says he also hopes to devote more time into his acting career in the very near future. “I think the fact that I am not completely happy is what keeps me driven. I’m far from content. I’ll be content when I retire. I think life is too f’ed up and there is too much dark [crap] going on in the world. No one has the right to be content these days, except for maybe the Dalai Lama.”

This inner drive just might be the backbone of Springfield’s success, and what keeps him going, despite an impressive and aggressive touring schedule. While most twenty somethings would have a hard time embarking on a weekend doubleheader of Milwaukee’s Summerfest one night and Naperville’s Ribfest the next, Springfield acts as if it’s no big deal.

“I sleep well after a show,” laughs Springfield. “There is a certain party atmosphere during the summer that I love. People are there to have a good time. They are not worrying about dressing up or drinking too much. I get a lot of my energy straight from my audiences.”

And what about the idea of getting older? Does it bother him?

“Life definitely speeds up as you get older,” he concludes. “My mom is 93-years-old and she is still driving her friends to the doctors. She is still kicking a--.”

Tricia Despres is a local free-lance writer.

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