Friday, April 22, 2011

My Brush With Celebrity

If you knew me when I was growing up—or if you’ve read my previous posts, such as last year's post on Grease—one thing you’d say about me is that I was one star-struck kid. I had several celebrity crushes over those formative years, but you never forget your first celebrity crush. Rick Springfield was mine! His was the first concert I ever went to. I still remember the excitement I felt when my parents gave me the tickets, and seeing him perform contributed to my lifelong love of live music. I used to rush home from school every day to try to catch a glimpse of Rick as Dr. Noah Drake during the last 15 minutes of General Hospital. My friends and I would play his music constantly.

So when I heard that Rick Springfield had written an autobiography entitled Late, Late at Night, and was doing a book signing at Indigo Books in Toronto, I couldn’t miss it! I had to rearrange my calendar significantly to attend the book signing, but I rushed down to Indigo, and arrived there, full of anticipation, and very excited to be meeting someone that was such an important part of my childhood.

When I found the line up, my first thought was “Oh, this isn’t too long. Poor Rick, I hope more people show up than this.” Then a security guard said “You have to line up there"--and pointed to the hundreds of people (mostly women) lined up around the rows of bookshelves behind me. My heart sank as I walked nervously from row to row, glancing at the hordes of people, wondering if I would even get to meet him. Finally, I got to the end of the line. Jessie’s Girl, along with other hits, played in the background. I talked with two women in line with me, and discovered that their stories were similar to mine, and a lot of the other women in line. There were a lot of kids rushing home from school to watch him on GH in those days! We laughed and reminisced about our celebrity “friend,” and couldn’t wait until he came out. Finally, he appeared. I was too far back and couldn’t see him, though. While I was in line, a lady came over, and put a post-it note on my book to make it easier for Rick to sign. We were under strict orders to get the autograph, the photo, and move on.

I inched closer to the front of the line, and finally, I could see the stage! And Rick! He smiled, signedbooks, and posed for countless photos. After what seemed like an eternity, it was my turn to meet Rick Springfield. I walked onto the stage, and there he was in front of me—my childhood crush!

It’s so nice to meet you!” I beamed. I meant it. I felt like I was seeing an old friend.

“It’s nice to meet you, too, sweetheart,” Rick replied, as he signed my book.

Wait, did Rick Springfield just call me “Sweetheart?” Insert "swoon" here. Even at 60-something, he still has that effect on women.

He then put his arm around me—yes, put his arm around me—and I got a photo taken with him.

I’m really looking forward to reading your book,” I continued as we smiled for the camera.

“I hope you enjoy it,” he replied with a sincere smile. What a nice man, I thought to myself.

Once the photo is taken, I said “Thank you,” took my signed book, and I’m ushered off the stage. My brush with stardom was over. Just like that. I exited the store, clutching my newly autographed book, and smiled. I just met Rick Springfield. It seemed surreal.

Back at home, I began reading Late, Late at Night. Written without the help of a ghostwriter, the autobiography takes you on a wild ride through the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll lifestyle Rick lived. It covers his childhood in Australia and England, his musical beginnings, rise to fame, and the height of his career. It chronicles his relationship with his wife Barbara, which has lasted 30 years despite numerous infidelities over the years. At the heart of the book is Rick’s long battle with and recovery from depression (affectionately named “Mr. D.”), which caused him to leave the music business at the height of his fame. The book is honest, candid, and Rick doesn’t hold back. As a reader, you feel like you really get to know him, and empathize with him and his struggles. As a fan, I enjoyed reading about Rick’s amazing life, and what was going on behind the scenes during the height of Rick’s career.

Whether you’re a Rick Springfield fan or not, if you’re looking for a really good book, I’d highly recommend Late, Late at Night. It’s a great, great, read.

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