Dusty Springfield was quite literally one of Britain’s best female singers! She was, and still is, one of the UK’s national treasures, and she was taken away too soon. Her mesmerizing, voice captivated audiences all over the world, and her legacy lives on in the Halls of Fame. So, let us not revel in the past, let us look forward and celebrate her life in facts! Here are 37 facts for you to enjoy!
Fact 1: Dusty wasn’t actually called ‘Dusty Springfield’, her real name was Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien! She took on the stage name in later life and became known as Dusty professionally.
Fact 2: Mary O’Brien was born on the 16th of April 1939. For you history-lovers out there, you’ll know that this is when the Second World War started.
Fact 3: Dusty was born in West Hampstead, London. This area of London is quite affluent and many creative celebrities live here, one of which is Emma Thompson! She, of course, is famous for playing Nanny McPhee and for her roles in some Jane Austen film adaptations!
Fact 4: O’Brien received an OBE in 1999. An OBE is an award that is given to those who have made significant contributions in the creative, artistic, scientific, and charitable services to the community.
Fact 5: Springfield was one of the most loved female British singers and her career span from the 1950s to the 1990s.
Fact 6: Between the years 1963 to 1989 she had 6 ‘Top 20’ singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Fact 7: Dusty’s ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ song, got to number 4 on the 1964 UK Singles Chart. Since this time the song has been covered by several artists including The Bay City Rollers and The Tourists. They have both also received praise for their work on this track!
Fact 8: Dusty Springfield is a long-standing member of the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’. She’s up there with other great artists like Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, and Johnny Cash, and loads of others!!
Fact 9: On that note, she’s also up there with the greats in the UK’s Hall of Fame! Artists with her are The Who, Rod Stewart, and Queen, plus many many more!
Fact 10: A true icon of the Swinging Sixties, Dusty made a name for herself by giving the people a performance they would remember! Not only did she have a terrific voice but she also had exceptionally good looks to go along with it! She was known to support peroxide blonde hair and thick eyeliner, along with her lavish outfits – she certainly knew how to impress the crowds.
Fact 11: Springfield sang for varied genres including pop, blue-eyed soul, and R&B. The term blue-eyed soul was created in the 1960s and was used to describe white people singing music that was similar to that of Motown. The Righteous Brothers are a band that is closely linked to this time and was also some of the earliest performers of this genre.
Fact 12: Although she was known for her incredible mezzo-soprano voice she was also a talented musician. Throughout her life, she learned to play the piano, guitar, and percussions.
Fact 13: Springfield was born to Gerard, a tax accountant, and Catherine O’Brien, who had connections to Ireland.
Fact 14: Dusty was the second child in her family, she had a brother called Dionysius O’Brien. He later became known as Tom Springfield professionally!
Fact 15: O’Brien’s song ‘Son of a Preacher Man,’ 1968, is perhaps one of the best soul genre records to have been made. So much so, the song was used as the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’. And we all know how big that movie was!
Fact 16: Dusty Springfield wasn’t the only musical member of her family, her brother was a talented musician too. Dusty and her brother Tom, both performed in the band known as The Springfields in the 1960s. Tom is now a retired English musician and songwriter.
Fact 17: While you might think she was a single artist, she was actually in a band called The Lana Sisters from 1958 to 1961. This band was a girl band, that had been formed by Iris Long. They had a successful career, touring around with bigger named bands and they performed in the Royal Albert Hall twice!
Fact 18: After leaving her band The Lana Sisters, Dusty went on to create the band The Springfields with her brother Tom and Tim Feild. ‘Silver Threads and Golden Needles’ is one of the band’s biggest songs, having reached several charts in different countries.
Fact 19: Springfield went solo in 1963, meaning she left The Springfields, but lucky for her, her career took off and she became even more successful!
Fact 20: Some of Dusty’s biggest songs are:
- I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself (1964)
- You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me (1966)
- Son of a Preacher Man (1968)
Fact 21: In 1965 Dusty Springfield changed the UK music world. Dusty hosted a TV program and she brought on loads of little-known soul singers that were singing in Motown. The people in the UK became familiar with the music after this show had aired, and the genre became popular in the UK.
Fact 22: The New Musical Express (NME) is a music journalism site, and Dusty Springfield was the first-ever British female to top their poll for the leading ‘Female Singer’ at the time. This was an incredible feat for her, especially at the time when women were struggling for equality.
Fact 23: Dusty’s most famous album was ‘Dusty In Memphis’! As the name suggests she actually did travel to Memphis to record this album and to this day it is still ranked as a national treasure. Oh, and it also has a place in the Grammy Hall of Fame! Because it’s just that good!!
Fact 24: O’Brien and the Pet Shop Boys once did a collaboration! Their single, ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’ ranked well with audiences in America and the UK and it placed Dusty back on the charts!
Fact 25: Dusty Springfield never actually confirmed nor denied that she was heterosexual. Over her lifetime she owned up to having many relationships and she did live with a woman at one time in her life, but this could have been as friends.
Fact 26: Interestingly, although her album ‘Dusty in Memphis’ was a success, when Dusty actually moved to the US to live there she fell away from the charts for a little while. Her collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys and Pulp Fiction using her song as a soundtrack actually brought her back to the charts after a dry spell.
Fact 27: ‘Dusty’ was the nickname given to her by the boys she would play football with while out on the street as a child.
Fact 28: Dusty and her family were known for their love of food-fighting. It was not unusual for the family to have food throwing episodes in their home – sounds fun, right?
Fact 29: From childhood onwards, her love for music flowered. Having been raised in a family who loved music it was no surprise that she became a well-loved female singer. Allegedly, when she was little her Dad would tap out rhythms/tunes for her to guess on the back of her hand.
Fact 30: She was 12 when she made her first-ever recording! She took herself down to a recording studio in Ealing and sang the song ‘When The Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabama’, by Irving Berlin.
Fact 31: After leaving school Dusty and Tom worked in holiday parks, their duties included performing to the guests. This was before they became famous.
Fact 32: Dusty felt unwell while she was recording her penultimate album in Tennessee, in 1994. Sadly when she returned home to Englan she was told she had breast cancer.
Fact 33: In 2006, an Australian musical about Dusty was released, ‘Dusty – The Original Pop Diva’. The musical is a story about Dusty’s life and her success.
Fact 34: Some journalists and Dusty fans speculate that Dusty and Mary O’Brien may well have been 2 different people. Some say that O’Brien was the ‘shy, quiet and low confidence’ woman, and Dusty was just a stage face, she might well have just created a face for the public to see!
Fact 35: There were claims made that Dusty would self-harm, and was actually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, Dusty wouldn’t be the first or last celebrity to have mental health issues. It is incredibly common for stars to suffer from ill-health when subjected to a life of extreme stardom.
Fact 36: Dusty also expanded into TV life later in her career, and became the host of many TV programs. Some of these were:
- The Sound of Motown
- It Must Be Dusty
Fact 37: Sadly, on 2 March 1999, Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien, aged 59, died. She passed away in Henley-on-Thames, the area where she lived her final years. Her funeral was an enormous affair. Not only was her fans there but some of the music industry’s biggest names attended too.