Dusty Springfield is a name that needs no introduction. With her captivating husky voice, she managed to win the hearts of people for decades. She is commonly referred to as the most popular icon of the Swinging Sixties. Dusty Springfield had a huge impact on American pop culture. She was undoubtedly one of the most distinguished and popular singers of all time.
Many readers might not be aware of the fact that this lady who rocked America was born and brought up in London. What differentiated Dusty from other singers of her time was her husky voice that could directly appeal to the hearts of people. This blue-eyed soul gained immense popularity with her pop singing style. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that she ruled the 1960s era.
Dusty commenced her career by becoming a part of ‘The Springfields.’ This trio included Dusty, Tom Springfield (her brother), and Tim Feild. All three had great expertise in music and wanted to create an iconic music trio. Though their first song was a failure, they soon tasted success with two successful releases. The trio started to gain immense popularity among the people in the UK.
They even started appearing on television frequently. In fact, BBC even produced a Tv series titled The Springfields, which traced the success story of this trio. It was all a smooth sail for Springfield until 1961. Field’s wife became too ill, and he had to bid goodbye to the group. But Dusty and Tom managed to sort this problem by roping in another skilled musician, Mike Hurst.
Dusty’s Exit from The Springfields
The group continued to script success as all their releases were topping the music charts. They were developing a crazy fan following. But then emerged a peculiar problem. Dusty somehow felt too restricted in the group, and She felt that Tom was gaining all the importance and control. Now Dusty wasn’t someone who could let her talent be overshadowed by anyone.
She wanted to sing and enjoy music like a free bird. Therefore Dusty made the tough decision to quit The Springfields and commence a solo career. The announcement was made during a popular Tv show ‘Sunday Night, at the London Palladium. People were left bewildered by Dusty’s decision.
Many expressed that Dusty had become too arrogant and she would soon return back to the trio when she experienced setbacks. But little did they know, Dusty would go on to become one of the greatest American pop singers ever, whom people would remember for decades.
Dusty’s successful journey as a solo artist
Dusty tasted success as a solo artist with the release of the song, ‘I Only Want To Be With You. This song gained immense popularity and remained at the top of the UK charts. Dusty continued to attain heights of success as she kept on releasing huge hits both in the UK as well as America. Due to her success, she has even been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the UK Music Hall Of Fame.
Dusty touched the skies with the release of her album titled Dusty in Memphis. This album was ranked among the greatest albums of all time by many popular magazines and public polls. Dusty continues to inspire several modern-day artists like Adele.
She was known for her sharp wit, expertise in music, and vocal against relevant problems like racism, social instability, etc. Her ideas and opinions often contrasted with the old-fashioned ideas of the music industry of the 60s and 70s. Consequently, she would frequently earn the ire of others.
Dusty’s Fall and her Resurgence To Fame
Dusty’s career went downhill during the ’70s. The success and fame she enjoyed started to dwindle away slowly. Every music artist, irrespective of success and fame, had to go through a journey of ups and downs. But she bounced back with a bang with the release of the album Reputation’. She spent years in isolation and away from the limelight.
But the album ‘Reputation’ brought her back to the public discussion. Almost after 20 years, Dusty’s name was featured in the music chart. The album was an instant success. Now, this was quite an accomplished feat for someone like Dusty, as people had assumed that she would never manage to make any comeback. Dusty hadn’t released any album in Britain since 1979.
But Reputation managed to get wide publicity and hype, thus facilitating its release in Britain. This album comprised five songs in total, and the production was helmed by Pet Shop Boys. The Pet Shop boys comprising vocalist Neil Tennant and keyboardist Chris Lowe were basically a synth-pop duo. Both of them helped to revive Dusty’s dead career.
Now our readers would be amused to know that Dusty had refused to sing for the duo when they first approached her in 1985 for collaboration. But when her career hit rock bottom, she had no choice but to follow whatever life had decided for her now.
Dusty’s Complicated Love Saga
Dusty could never find peace of mind due to her sexual orientation. Media and people often wondered about the same and used to quiz her about her real identity. Dusty never entered into a straight relationship. Dusty had several on-and-off encounters with other women. She was in a relationship with multiple ladies throughout her life. Unfortunately, she failed to find stability in her love life,
If we talk about the modern-day, her sexuality has always been overlooked and doesn’t really find any mention. However, she gained prominence as a queer icon the widespread homophobia during those days, and even today, she never let Dusty open her heart to the public.
Dusty knew from childhood that she was attracted to girls. Her first crush was her convent school’s nun. But in order to avoid public wrath, she didn’t really speak much about her sexuality though she kept on dating several women.
Norma’s Entry Into Dusty’s Life
Dusty and Norma entered into a relationship around 1966. Both met each other for the first time during the ITV program Ready Steady Go! Norma left America to pursue her relationship with Dusty. The couple went through many ups and downs. Well, the journey of a lesbian couple during that time was bound to face several challenges and pressure from society.
But despite all this, both managed to continue their relationship for five years. Norma used to write songs while Dusty would record them, Though there were no official reports about the reason for their breakup. But media during that time speculated that Dusty wasn’t giving enough credit to Norma.
Dusty did record the songs penned down by Norma, but she never assigned much importance to them. There is no denying the fact that Dusty had a very dominating nature which frequently irked people around her. As a result, Norma and Dusty broke up after five years of relationship.
Dusty’s Life After Breakup
Dusty was left heartbroken when Norma decided to leave her forever. In an interview, she expressed the feelings of her broken heart by saying that she had now learned to accept her fate. She felt that she could now get smitten by a girl or a boy. And according to her, many people felt the same as her, so there was nothing wrong with that. After Norma, Dusty struggled to get into a committed relationship.
She dated several women, but nothing lasted too long. Dusty’s longing for a stable relationship finally got fulfilled when she met Faye Harris, an American photojournalist. They both met in the early 70s, and their relationship lasted for nearly six years. It was reported that the couple had many clashes and conflicts of opinion, but still, their relationship lasted for a long time. But all this came to a halt when Dusty took a drastic turn.
Dusty’s Sudden Decision
By the time she entered the 80s, Dusty’s apprehensions were piling up like a mountain. She was failing to find a loyal and committed partner. The media and the public were constantly talking about her sexuality. Amidst all this chaos, Dusty came up with a surprising decision. She made a decision to marry Ted Bracci, a little-known American actress, in 1983.
But the marriage remained in trouble forever. Firstly it was an illegal marriage as the law did not recognize same-sex marriage at that time. Their relationship turned abusive soon as they started to fight over petty things. Things turned quite bad when Teda smashed Dusty with a saucepan. The singer was severely injured and even had to undergo plastic surgery.
Their relationship was described by the media as a ‘volatile lesbian relationship.’Dusty was taking medicines to control her short temper and sudden outburst. Her mood swings were becoming more and more severe. Finally, after two years of their wedding, Dusty and Ted parted ways.
Dusty’s Final Years
Dusty’s last studio track was “Someone to watch over me’ in 1995. She had been suffering from both physical and mental trauma and had realized that she was nearing the end of her life. It was in December 1995 that she performed live for the last time.
Dusty fell ill and was soon diagnosed with breast cancer. The diagnosis of cancer was like the last straw of her complicated saga. Though she fought cancer bravely and underwent therapies, she bid goodbye to the world in 1999.
The Legacy Of Dusty
It has been over two decades since Dusty left the world, but even today, she continues to find mention among music lovers. She was a pop and style icon. Her iconic beehive hairstyle and exquisite dresses are still remembered vividly today. Her story is a reflection of how queer artists have to go through immense pressure and struggle.
While mentioning her achievements and success, her status as a queer icon who was involved in several turbulent relationships should not be overlooked. If the media and society had accepted her sexual orientation, then she perhaps wouldn’t have had to go through all the trauma and burden of staying in the closet forever.