Born: Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien in Hampstead, London, England
Paul Howes is the foremost authority on Dusty Springfield's professional accomplishments and will hopefully one day lend his pen to this site. His book "The Complete Dusty Springfield" is the ultimate resource for Dusty's fans and those who wish to learn from her recorded legacy, and he dutifully runs the fanzine "The Dusty Springfield Bulletin" from the U.K. A few Dusty biographies exist, the most respected would likely be Lucy O'Brien's, while Vicki Wickham and Penny Valentine penned a more personal, though controversial, account. Dusty tribute sites are a valuable resource as well: do a web search under (you guessed it) "Dusty Springfield tribute sites". Hopefully one day soon these comments of mine will be removed and replaced by a suitable tribute from a notable source. Dusty is admired in every corner of the music business for her singular contribution to the art of popular singing, and has amassed one of the most earnest and grateful fan bases of any popular singer.
Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien OBE (16 April 1939 – 2 March 1999), known professionally as Dusty Springfield, was an English pop singer and record producer whose career extended from the late 1950s to the 1990s. With her distinctive sensual mezzo-soprano sound, she was an important blue-eyed soul singer and at her peak was one of the most successful British female performers, with six top 20 singles on the United States Billboard Hot 100 and sixteen on the United Kingdom Singles Chart from 1963 to 1989. She was a member of both the US Rock and Roll and UK Music Halls of Fame. International polls have named Springfield among the best female rock artists of all time. Her image, supported by a peroxide blonde bouffant hairstyle, evening gowns, and heavy make-up, as well as her flamboyant performances on the black and white television of the 1960s, made her an icon of the Swinging Sixties.
Born in West Hampstead, London to a family that enjoyed music, Springfield learned to sing at home. In 1958 she joined her first professional group, The Lana Sisters, and two years later formed a pop-folk vocal trio, The Springfields, with her brother Tom. Her solo career began in 1963 with the upbeat pop hit, "I Only Want to Be with You". Among the hits that followed were "Wishin' and Hopin' " (1964), "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself" (1964), "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" (1966), and "Son of a Preacher Man" (1968).
As a fan of US pop music, she brought many little-known soul singers to the attention of a wider UK record-buying audience by hosting the first national TV performance of many top-selling Motown artists beginning in 1965. Although she was never considered a Northern Soul artist in her own right, her efforts contributed a great deal to the formation of the genre as a result.
Partly owing to these efforts, a year later she eventually became the best-selling female singer in the world and topped a number of popularity polls, including Melody Maker's Best International Vocalist. She was the first UK singer to top the New Musical Express readers' poll for Female Singer.
To boost her credibility as a soul artist, Springfield went to Memphis, Tennessee to record Dusty in Memphis, an album of pop and soul music with the Atlantic Records main production team. Released in 1969, it has been ranked among the greatest albums of all time by the US magazine Rolling Stone and in polls by VH1 artists, New Musical Express readers, and Channel 4 viewers. The album was also awarded a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame. Despite its current recognition, the album did not sell well and after its release, Springfield experienced a career slump for several years. However, in collaboration with Pet Shop Boys, she returned to the Top 10 of the UK and US charts in 1987 with "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" Two years later, she had two other UK hits on her own with "Nothing Has Been Proved" and "In Private." Subsequently, in the mid-1990s, owing to the inclusion of "Son of a Preacher Man" on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, interest in her early output was revived.