Back in 1984, I was working at a radio station in Salt Lake City, Utah. Besides “spinning the hits” and talking a lot, part of my job duties as a disc jockey was to escort lucky listeners who had won concert tickets to the show and backstage to meet the singer or band.
On this particular occasion, Rick Springfield was coming to town – he was a….well, a rock star! Rick had just finished his stint as Dr. Noah Drake on the soap opera General Hospital the year before and had won a Grammy for “Jesse’s Girl” and been nominated for several more.
With his combination of boyish charm and smoldering sex appeal, women and girls worldwide were in love with and desperate to meet Rick. But not me…
What got MY nether regions tingling was who was coming to town WITH Rick Springfield to open the show…an up and coming star who had already had hit #7 on the Billboard Top 100 with his very first single off his very first album. That song was “Sunglasses at Night” and the artist was none other than Corey Hart (imagine that I said all that in my very knowledgeable Casey Kasem/American Top 40 voice – well, maybe not the bit about my nether regions).
Corey is Canadian (but don’t hold that against him, eh?) – the youngest of five kids raised by a single mom . His mom must have been an adventurer, because besides Montreal, where Corey was born, the family also lived for extended periods in Spain, Mexico, and Florida. Because of this, Corey became fluently trilingual in English, French, and Spanish. I’m pretty sure he was single back in 1984 – but it didn’t really matter to me, because I was in a miserable marriage to The Loser – so surely if Corey was with someone, he was also miserable. Although he was a year younger than me, I didn’t care – what did age matter when you had true love?
In the month leading up to the concert, I furiously practiced my high school Spanish and imagined how our meeting would go: Corey would kindly greet the winners I was escorting…and then he would turn to me. Our eyes would lock and his would widen in surprise when I huskily said, in flawless Spanish, “Hola, Corey – mi nombre es Jana y estoy MUY contento de conocerte” (basically – I’m VERY pleased to meet you…if you get my drift). He would take my hand and a current of sexual energy would pass between us, and then he would pull me close and whisper in my ear that he had never believed in love at first sight…until now, and he would beg me, “Cásate conmigo, mi amor, y tener mis bebés.”
About a week before the concert, it was announced that Corey wouldn’t be the opening act after all. Instead, someone named Tommy Shaw would be opening instead. I was very bummed.
Still, as they say, the show must go on – so the night of the concert, I escorted the winners to meet Rick Springfield before the show. We were taken to a large, rather sterile room backstage that had a crafts services table loaded with food and drink we were told not to touch. After standing aimlessly for several minutes, an authoritative man entered and began to tell us exactly how this meeting was going to go. He sternly explained that they would be bringing Rick into the room in a few minutes and, under no circumstances, were any of us to approach him. Rick would greet each person, but there would be NO TOUCHING and NO QUESTIONS allowed! If Rick asked one of us a question, we were allowed to answer – but our answer MUST be brief! And absolutely, there would be NO PHOTOGRAPHY – as the flash would startle Rick and hurt his eyes. The winners all looked at me, as if I had something to do with these rules – but I just shrugged and wondered if we were also supposed to bow or curtsy when we met His Highness.
A few minutes later, Mr. Springfield was herded into the room – and I DO mean herded. He had a handler on both sides, holding onto his arms and guiding him where they wanted him to go. It was apparent that he actually needed these guys to hold him up, because Rick, could barely keep his eyes open. It seemed apparent to me, after seeing so much drug and alcohol abuse with The Loser, that Rick was bombed – as high as a kite – zonked. When Rick was introduced to each winner, the handlers would speak to him as if he was a child, repeating the winner’s name more than once. Rick would attempt to smile and nodded, but there was NO TOUCHING – and there was no speaking on Rick’s part – just some grunting when he was acknowledging someone.
Moments later, Rick was steered out of the room and we were escorted back to the arena, where we found our seats. I think all of us were disillusioned and rather stunned – this wasn’t the Rick Springfield we had come to “know” from watching his acting and music videos. We all prepared ourselves for a train wreck of a show – because if he couldn’t even walk on his own, how would he sing, dance, and play? But when the show started – I almost forgot about Corey Hart! Rick put on one of the best shows I had seen. He was animated, enthusiastic, charismatic, and most importantly, ambulatory! The audience went wild as he belted out hit after hit and engaged in witty banter between songs. I don’t know how he did it – but he did.
I never did meet Corey Hart. He went on to marry another woman, and then after divorcing (because, after all, she wasn’t ME), he met and married a stunning Canadian beauty, promptly had four lovely children, and now lives on a beach somewhere in the Bahamas. Sigh.
Have you ever had a celebrity crush? Was it just in your mind or did you actually MEET them? What was the best concert you’ve ever been to?