Before embarking on her massively successful solo career as the best female blue-eyed soul singer of all time, Dusty Springfield (Mary O’Brien) was in a folk-pop trio, The Springfields, from 1960 to 1963. The other two members, her brother Tom (Dion O’Brien) and Tim Feild, had started out performing as a duo, The Kensington Squares. When Dusty left her own vocal trio The Lana Sisters to join her brother’s group, they adopted Springfield as their collective stage surname one day after rehearsing on a sunny spring day. Feild, now a Sufi teacher and writer called Reshad Feild, left the group due to his wife’s ill health and was replaced by Mike Hurst in 1962. Before Dusty was associated with Motown, Carole King, and Burt Bacharach, she was busy toiling away in the same genre as Peter, Paul, and Mary.
The Springfields were popular in the U.K., with successful charting singles on Phillips Records: “Breakaway,” “Bambino,” “Island of Dreams,” “Say I Won’t Be There,” and “Come On Home.” They stood out among their peers in the folk-heavy pre-beat music era. “Silver Threads and Golden Needles,” reached the Top 20 in the U.S. about a year and a half before the official British Invasion. The Springfields recorded their 1963 album Folk Songs from the Hills in Nashville, where Dusty discovered and fell in love with American soul music.
Popular music in the years immediately before The Beatles began recording was, in many ways, a dismal wasteland. After discovering soul, it’s not hard to believe that Dusty found the folk-pop genre restricting. Her strong personal style evolved during The Springfields’ career, so that in the movie It’s All Over Now she looks and sounds like the iconic, easily recognizable Dusty.
The Springfields made many appearances on British television and had their own variety-show series in 1961, two episodes of which were released on Goin’ Back: The Definitive Dusty Springfield box set.
The original trio broke up in 1963 when Dusty left, following a farewell performance on Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Mike Hurst, now a producer, created a new version of the group in 2011 with two new members, Marina Berry and Andy Marlow.
The Springfields, “Island of Dreams,” 1962:
The Springfields, “Maracabamba”:
The Springfields, “Cielito Lindo”:
The Springfields, “Ballin’ The Jack”:
The Springfields, “Wimoweh”: