is London: The Evening Standard Online
Dusty dies on
her Royal day By Tim Cooper
Dusty Springfield has died from breast cancer on the day
she should have collected her OBE from the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
The 59-year-old singer died at 10.40 last night at her
home in Henley-on-Thames, her agent Paul Fenn said today. She was awarded an OBE in the
New Year Honours and her investiture had been due to be held yesterday, with a second
major accolade - her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in New York - scheduled
for two weeks today.
Despite the reclusive life she led at her Henley mansion,
she had been eager to meet the Queen, and also to join the traditional jam session at the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with fellow inductees including Bruce Springsteen and Sir Paul
Born Mary O'Brien in Hampstead in 1939, there is no doubt
that Dusty Springfield's place in pop music history had already been assured.
One of the top female singers of the Sixties, she had a
string of hits on both sides of the Atlantic, of which some of the best known were I Only
Want To Be With You, I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself, and You Don't Have To Say
You Love Me.
Lulu, who knew Dusty for more than 30 years and was a
close friend, said today: "I'm terribly, terribly sad at her loss but also at the
same time relieved that she is no longer suffering."
Dusty was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994
and, having thought she had beaten it, learned in the summer of 1996 that it had returned.
She spent the next 18 months fighting the disease but a year ago she was too ill to attend
the Brit Awards, where she had been due to be a guest of honour.
Just before Christmas she moved out of her converted
granary in Oxfordshire to seek more seclusion in the larger house in Henley, with more
Last May, shortly after the death of Linda McCartney from
the same disease, Dusty, whose mother Kay had died of lung cancer, sold the rights to her
275 songs to Prudential Insurance for £6.25 million.
She never married and in the early Seventies consolidated
her long-held status as a gay icon by finally admitting in the Evening Standard that she
With her sensuous, smoky voice, and an ability to sing
anything from ballads to soul stompers, Dusty Springfield was one of the few white singers
who could match the black Motown stars of the era and thus enjoyed greater musical
credibility than her female rivals like Sandie Shaw and Cilla Black.
In the early Seventies, after recording her landmark album
Dusty In Memphis, she moved to America but her record sales waned and in the mid-Seventies
she took a break from music.
As she battled against drink and drug problems and
depression, she became increasingly involved in animal welfare.
Various attempts at a musical comeback, in the late
Seventies and early Eighties, were unsuccessful, as was another backed by London nightclub
king Peter Stringfellow.
However, she came back into the public eye - and won over
a new generation of fans - when she was invited by chart toppers The Pet Shop Boys to join
them on their 1987 hit What Have I Done To Deserve This.
Her songs have also been covered by stars including
Springsteen, The Byrds, The Tourists and Nils Lofgren.
As she fought her lonely battle against what she knew had
become untreatable breast cancer, close friends said she was desperate to return to the
anonymity of being Mary O'Brien.
Springfield Received OBE In Hospital
Music legend Dusty Springfield did receive her OBE while
she was in the final stages of her battle with breast cancer.
The singer, who died Tuesday night, was given the honour
in a private gathering at her bedside in the Royal Marsden Hospital in west London four
Her manager Vicki Wickham said she was given special
permission by Buckingham Palace to collect it on her behalf because Dusty was too ill.
Ms Wickham, who has known the singer since they met at the
pilot programme of TV's Ready Steady Go in 1963, said: "I called the Palace and they
were magnificent. I went over to St James Palace and they gave me the OBE."
Ms Springfield, 59, died at her home in Henley-on-Thames,
Oxfordshire, after a long fight against cancer.
The singer, whose breast cancer was diagnosed in 1994, was
awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours.
Ms Wickham said: "We had a few people in to watch her
get it - nurses , doctors and people she knew. She was in great spirits and thrilled to
Ms Springfield is regarded as the finest female singer of
her generation and had a string of hits in the 1960s.
Born Mary O'Brien in north London in 1939, she began her
musical career in The Springfields but left to chalk up huge chart success with her debut
solo single I Only Want to Be With You. She had hits throughout the decade as well as a
series of acclaimed albums.
The artist became known for her glitzy gowns,
peroxide-blonde beehive and smudgy made-up eyes.
Dusty Springfield, 59, Pop Star of the 60's, Dies
STEPHEN HOLDEN New York Times
Dusty Springfield, the smoky-voiced English torch singer whose interpretations of pop
ballads were suffused with a heartbroken wistfulness, died on Tuesday at her home in
Henley-on-Thames, near Oxford, west of London. She was 59.
cause was breast cancer, said her agent, Paul Fenn.
Springfield had one of the longest recording careers of any contemporary pop star,
when she had the first of several hits with her folk-pop trio, the Springfields, and
1995 album, "A Very Fine Love." She had most of her major hits in the 1960s when
considered the British equivalent of Dionne Warwick; she recorded only intermittently
after the early
career was briefly rejuvenated in 1987 when the English duo the Pet Shop Boys (Neil
Chris Lowe), who were longtime fans, produced her Top Five hit, "What Have I Done to
Deserve This?" They also wrote and produced "Nothing Has Been Proved," the
post-disco theme song that she sang on the soundtrack of the 1989 movie
"Scandal," about the
Profumo sex scandal that had rocked the British government in the early 1960s.
Springfield became an international pop star in 1964 with "I Only Want to Be With
early-Beatles-style love song. Other major '60s hits included "Wishin' and
Hopin"' (1964), and
"The Look of Love" (1967), both written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, the
team that supplied
Warwick with most of her early hits. Ms. Springfield's sultry rendition of "The Look
the soundtrack of "Casino Royale," anticipated the heavy-breathing eroticism of
best seller, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" (1966), was a big-belting
reached No. 4 on Billboard's singles chart and won her her first Grammy nomination. The
country-soul ballad "Son of a Preacher Man," her Top 10 hit from 1969, won her
new respect and
second Grammy nomination after being prominently featured in the 1994 movie "Pulp
Dusty Springfield was born Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien on April 16, 1939, in
Hampstead, London. While attending British convent schools, she discovered the music of
whose intimate come-hither style was a major formative influence.
got her professional start with an Andrews Sisters-style group called the Lana Sisters,
but quit to
her own folk-pop group, the Springfields, with a friend, Tim Field, and her brother, Dion
O'Brien, now known as Tom Springfield, who is her only survivor. Promoted as a British
Paul and Mary, the group had a popular British television show and scored several English
breaking through in the United States with a Top 20 single, "Silver Threads and
While visiting New York with the trio, Ms. Springfield recalled many years later, she
Exciters' brash, aggressive song "Tell Him" coming out of a Broadway record
store and decided that
wanted to go pop.
"I was deeply influenced by black singers from the early 1960s," she said.
"I liked everybody at
and most of the Stax artists. I really wanted to be Mavis Staples. What they shared in
was a kind of strength I didn't hear on English radio."
Springfield subsequently broke up her folk group and signed as a soloist with Philips
first single for the label, "I Only Want to Be With You," established her new
Springfield, with her teased beehive hairdo and eyes heavily blackened with mascara, was a
fashion icon. From 1964 and 1967, when she left Philips, 11 of her singles hit the
"Son of a Preacher Man," a song that Aretha Franklin had rejected but later
recorded, became Ms.
Springfield's first single for Atlantic Records and was featured on her Atlantic debut
album, "Dusty in
Memphis," which is widely regarded as a pop masterpiece. To make the album, the
producing team of Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin, who had brought Ms. Franklin to
of popularity, took Ms. Springfield to Memphis to record with a hot rhythm section.
record, which included "The Windmills of Your Mind," an early collaboration of
the lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman that was written for the movie "The Thomas
Affair," was a perfect blend of warm country-soul and New York pop sophistication.
singers, including Melissa Manchester, Linda Ronstadt and k.d. lang, it provided a
stylistically adventurous vocal showcases.
"Dusty in Memphis" was not a big hit, reaching only No. 99 on Billboard's album
chart. In 1970
Atlantic released her much-admired rhythm-and-blues-flavored album, "A Brand New
Recorded in Philadelphia, the album fared no better than its forerunner.
Thereafter Ms. Springfield, who was awarded the Order of the British Empire in January,
sporadically. Although her subsequent American albums -- "Cameo" (1973,
Again" (1978, United Artists), "Living Without Your Love" (1979, United
Heat" (1982, Casablanca) and "A Very Fine Love" (1995, Columbia) -- found
her voice as full and
compelling as ever, the material and production rarely matched the singing.
After the 1970s she led a peripatetic existence, living sometimes in Los Angeles, at other
times in the
Netherlands and Britain. In 1997 Mercury Records released the 3-CD, 77-song "Dusty
Anthology Collection." Last month Rhino Records released an expanded version of
By Kristin Gazlay
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, March 3, 1999; 8:25 a.m. EST
LONDON (AP) -- Singer Dusty Springfield, whose husky, white soul
voice fueled such 1960s hits as ``Son of a Preacher Man'' and ``Wishin'
and Hopin','' has died after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 59.
Springfield died Tuesday night at her home in Henley-on-Thames, about
30 miles west of London, said her agent, Paul Fenn.
``She was one of the icons of the music industry,'' Fenn said. ``She was
one of the most talented female singers of this century.''
Springfield's first hit was ``I Only Want To Be With You'' in 1964,
followed by a string of smashes, including ``I Just Don't Know What To
Do With Myself'' and ``You Don't Have to Say You Love Me.''
In the 1980s, she teamed up with the Pet Shop Boys pop group for the
single ``What Have I Done to Deserve This.'' Her resurgence was sealed
the next decade with the inclusion of ``Preacher Man'' on the ``Pulp
Fiction'' soundtrack and the success of a box-set recapping her career.
Springfield's breast cancer was diagnosed in 1994 shortly after she
recorded her most recent album, ``A Very Fine Love.''
She underwent extensive chemotherapy until 1995, when she was
diagnosed as being clear of the disease. But the cancer returned the
After the first diagnosis, she told The Mail on Sunday newspaper in
January, `I shed about three tears in the hallway and then said, 'Let's have
lunch.' My brother came, the neighbors who brought me to town, my
secretary, my accountant. I had a really good time -- don't know why.
That's the spirit of my family, as if to say, 'Oh, to hell with it.'
``It was only when I came home one night and saw my cat lying asleep
that I thought, 'Who's going to look after you?' It was as if somebody had
run a train through me. I wept and wept and wept because then I realized:
It is you. It's you. Yes, it might kill you.''
Springfield was born Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien in north
London on April 16, 1939.
She became known for her glitzy gowns, peroxide-blonde beehive hairdo
and dark, smudgy eye make-up, but once said she never shook off the
feeling of being an ``awful fat, ugly middle-class kid.''
She told The Mail on Sunday that her personal and musical epiphany
came at the age of 16 when she looked at her reflection in the mirror and
told herself, ``Be miserable or become someone else.''
Her biographer, Lucy O'Brien, whose book ``Dusty'' will be published in
April, wrote of her subject, ``As youth mod culture came to a head in the
Sixties -- with its stringent attention to fashion, Motown and television pop
programs -- Dusty Springfield, panda-eyed and urbane, emerged as
Professing herself ``bored with Britain,'' Springfield moved to Los Angeles
in 1972, where she lived for 15 years, embarking on drink and drug
binges and suffering from depression. An intensely private woman, she
later disclosed that she had even attempted suicide.
Springfield's death came 11 days before she was to be inducted into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony in New York, along with Paul
McCartney and Bruce Springsteen.
In December, Queen Elizabeth II included Springfield on her biannual
honors list, making her an Officer of the Order of British Empire.
Buckingham Palace issued a statement saying the queen was ``saddened
to hear of her death.''
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press
Queen joins mourning for Dusty
Dusty Springfield was awarded an OBE in January
The Queen has joined in the mourning for singer Dusty
Springfield who has lost her battle against breast cancer.
The Queen said she was "saddened" by the singer's
death so soon after bestowing an OBE for her services
to the music industry.
The award was made in the New Year's Honours List but
Dusty was too ill to collect her prize in person and died
at her home in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire on
Gerry Marsden, of the 1960s group
Gerry and the Pacemakers, led the
tributes: "I think Dusty would want us
to remember her now with a load of
fun," he said. I don't think she would
want us sitting around moping.
"She was great. We'll all miss her a great deal."
A spokesman for TV
presenter Cilla Black said the
she was too upset to
comment on the singer's
"I called her at home, and
she was devastated,
absolutely devastated. Even
though she knew Dusty was
ill, she can't take the news
"They were friends for more
than 30 years and on Cilla's
last album, she did a duet with Dusty," she said.
TV presenter and performer Des
O'Connor said: "Dusty was unique.
"She had an absolutely distinctive
voice and was one of the best singers
Britain has ever produced.
"It is a sad, sad loss to the music world."
The 59-year-old performer was first diagnosed with
cancer in 1994.
Mike Gill, who worked with
the singer for nearly 32
years, first as her press
agent and then looking after
her back catalogue, said:
"She championed a new type
of music in the early Sixties
when she brought Tamla
Motown to Britain, which is
something that has always
been seriously overlooked.
"She was a great fighter.
Even before the illness she
was one of the most
stubborn people I have met in my life, but her attitude to
the cancer was `I'm going to beat this'."
Mr Gill has been working on a Dusty Springfield tribute
four-CD box set which will be released at the end of the
"It was done with Dusty's full knowledge and her
blessing when she knew she was dying. She said `Tell
Mike to get things organised. I want to go out with a bit
Dusty Springfield was best known for
her blonde beehive hair and trademark
heavy-black "panda-style" make-up.