Song: “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield
Reached #1: August 1, 1981 (his first, 2 weeks)
So it turns out there was a real Jessie’s Girl, but not a real Jessie.
Rick Springfield wrote the song about the girl who was dating his friend Gary – and the song started as “Gary’s Girl”. He decided to fictionalize it that little bit when he saw the name “Jessie” on the back of a softball uniform. Years later, the staff of Oprah tried to find the girl, based on the information Rick remembered, but only got as far as the class where the three of them crossed paths – to find that the instructor had passed away and his records were gone. In that interview, he said that he doesn’t think Gary’s girl knows she was Jessie’s Girl.
But let’s face it, for many guys, we know the feeling of looking at someone else’s girlfriend and saying “I’m better for her” (or just the more primal “ME WANT”). That has to be why the song is still memorable (and still karaoke fodder) over 30 years after its release.
The song made Springfield an overnight success – if you don’t count the 14+ years he’d been working up to that moment. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Springfield is also an actor, and started work on General Hospital right about the time the Working Class Dog album was released – soap fans helped propel both the album and its first single (yes, this one) to the top of the charts. It put Springfield in the enviable position of juggling a featured TV role with an extended world tour for two years (before leaving GH). He would go back to the soap in 2005 for a couple of years.
Springfield is currently involved with a big-screen documentary that’s working its way through the festival circuit, with screenings coming at the end of August 2012 in Birmingham, Alabama at the Sidewalk Film Festival.
Tomorrow, a movie soundtrack solo single that marked the singer’s departure from the band that made him famous…
Other songs that reached #1 on August 1:
1964 – “A Hard Day’s Night” by the Beatles (their fifth, 2 weeks)
1987 – “Shakedown” by Bob Seger (his first, 1 week)