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Mary O'Brien
Dusty Springfield
March  2, 1999
Age 59

 

 

 

 

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Breast Cancer

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This 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 McCartney.  

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 picturesque views.  

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 was bisexual.  

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.  


Dying Dusty 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 weeks ago. 

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 bits." 

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   

        
          By 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.  

          The cause was breast cancer, said her agent, Paul Fenn.  

          Ms. Springfield had one of the longest recording careers of any contemporary pop star, beginning in 
          1961 when she had the first of several hits with her folk-pop trio, the Springfields, and ending with 
          her 1995 album, "A Very Fine Love." She had most of her major hits in the 1960s when she was 
          considered the British equivalent of Dionne Warwick; she recorded only intermittently after the early 
          1970s.  

          Her career was briefly rejuvenated in 1987 when the English duo the Pet Shop Boys (Neil Tennant 
          and 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 dense, swirling 
          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.  

          Ms. Springfield became an international pop star in 1964 with "I Only Want to Be With You," a 
          perky 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 
          Ms. Warwick with most of her early hits. Ms. Springfield's sultry rendition of "The Look of Love," 
          from the soundtrack of "Casino Royale," anticipated the heavy-breathing eroticism of Donna Summer 
          a decade later.  

          Her best seller, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" (1966), was a big-belting tear-jerker that 
          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 
          her second Grammy nomination after being prominently featured in the 1994 movie "Pulp Fiction."  

          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 Peggy 
          Lee, whose intimate come-hither style was a major formative influence.  

          She got her professional start with an Andrews Sisters-style group called the Lana Sisters, but quit to 
          form 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 answer to 
          Peter, Paul and Mary, the group had a popular British television show and scored several English hits 
          before breaking through in the United States with a Top 20 single, "Silver Threads and Golden 
          Needles."  

          While visiting New York with the trio, Ms. Springfield recalled many years later, she heard the 
          Exciters' brash, aggressive song "Tell Him" coming out of a Broadway record store and decided that 
          she wanted to go pop.  

          "I was deeply influenced by black singers from the early 1960s," she said. "I liked everybody at 
          Motown and most of the Stax artists. I really wanted to be Mavis Staples. What they shared in 
          common was a kind of strength I didn't hear on English radio."  

          Ms. Springfield subsequently broke up her folk group and signed as a soloist with Philips Records. 
          Her first single for the label, "I Only Want to Be With You," established her new direction. Ms. 
          Springfield, with her teased beehive hairdo and eyes heavily blackened with mascara, was a 1960s 
          pop fashion icon. From 1964 and 1967, when she left Philips, 11 of her singles hit the American pop 
          charts.  

          "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 Atlantic 
          producing team of Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin, who had brought Ms. Franklin to her 
          peak of popularity, took Ms. Springfield to Memphis to record with a hot rhythm section.  

          The record, which included "The Windmills of Your Mind," an early collaboration of Michel Legrand 
          with the lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman that was written for the movie "The Thomas Crown 
          Affair," was a perfect blend of warm country-soul and New York pop sophistication. For many 
          singers, including Melissa Manchester, Linda Ronstadt and k.d. lang, it provided a blueprint for 
          stylistically adventurous vocal showcases.  

          But "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 Me." 
          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, recorded 
          only sporadically. Although her subsequent American albums -- "Cameo" (1973, ABC-Dunhill), "It 
          Begins Again" (1978, United Artists), "Living Without Your Love" (1979, United Artists), "White 
          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 Springfield 
          Anthology Collection." Last month Rhino Records released an expanded version of "Dusty in 
          Memphis."  

Singer Dusty Springfield Dies 

                  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 
                  following year.  

                  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.''  

                  It worked.  

                  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 
                  Queen Bee.''  

                  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 

    BBC News 

              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 
              Tuesday.  
 

                            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."  
 

                    Cilla 'devastated'

                                  A spokesman for TV 
                                  presenter Cilla Black said the 
                                  she was too upset to 
                                  comment on the singer's 
                                  death.  

                                  "I called her at home, and 
                                  she was devastated, 
                                  absolutely devastated. Even 
                                  though she knew Dusty was 
                                  ill, she can't take the news 
                                  in.  

                                  "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.  
 

                    Dusty wanted to 'go out in style'

                                  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 
              year.  

              "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 
              of style'."  
 

                    Nineties revival for sixties icon

                            Dusty Springfield was best known for 
                            her blonde beehive hair and trademark 
                            heavy-black "panda-style" make-up.  
 

 

       

 

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BIOGRAPHY

   Tom Simon

B-April 16, 1939 D-March 2, 1999

Dusty Springfield was one of the top female vocalists of the 60's with hits on both the UK and USA pop charts, several of which were in the top ten.  

She was born Mary O'Brien in London in 1939. She began singing with the Lana Sisters, then formed a group with her brother Tom and Mike Hurst. As a folk trio, The Springfields, they had hits in the UK with Say I Won't Be There and Island Of Dreams, and a top twenty song in the USA with Silver Threads And Golden Needles. The first song of her solo career, I Only Want To Be With You, was recorded in 1963 and made the top twenty in the USA early the following year.  

More big hits followed. Wishin' and Hopin' and her biggest of the decade, You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, made the top ten in the USA, while Goin' Back did the same in her native country.  

Dusty Springfield was a big fan of Motown-type songs and was one of only a few white singers who could successfully replicate such songs. She paid close attention to which songs she would agree to record and which she would not, which set her apart from rivals such as Sandie Shaw and Cilla Black in the UK. This ability to choose the right songs contributed a great deal to her success in the recording industry.  

Until the late 60's Dusty had recorded for the Phillips label. In 1969 she collaborated with Jerry Wexler at Atlantic to record the album that many regard as her best Dusty in Memphis. It included still another top ten song, Son-Of-A Preacher Man.  

In the early 70's Dusty moved to the USA. She recorded her album Cameo in 1973 then backed off from recording for a few years, save for some back-up work with Anne Murray. Her records were not selling as well as they had in the 60's, and Dusty began to get involved in animal welfare causes. K-Tel compiled an album The Very Best Of Dusty Springfield in the early 80's that is a good representation of her music. Her long-awaited return came in 1978 with It Begins Again and in 1982 with Whiteheat, but neither album sold very well. Another attempt backed by London nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow in 1986 met with similar results. But a song she did in 1987 with the British act The Pet Shop Boys, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, What Have I Done To Deserve This?, was a smashing success and brought her all the way to number two on the USA charts. She sounds as good on this one as she does 
on anything she ever recorded.  

Dusty Springfield's songs have been covered over the years by artists such as The Tourists, The Byrds, Neil 
Lofgren, and Bruce Springsteen. Dusty had made appearances on the British television series Ready Steady Go in the 60's and when those shows were released on video tape it enhanced her career and enabled a new generation to discover her. Dusty can still sing quite well and if she were to come up with the right producer and the right sings, is still capable of coming up with some hits. 

 

 

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