I've dreamed of meeting Rick Springfield (Noah/Eli, General Hospital) since the early 80's. I've seen him live several times but never got close to meeting him.
Once upon a time (around 1986, I think), my then 'BFF' and I went so far as to try and locate Rick's hotel when he was in town for a concert. Unfortunately, we fell short.
Fast forward to February 18, 2011. Rick Springfield was scheduled for a brief book signing at a nearby Barnes & Noble store on the day of his Detroit concert. His publicist was kind enough to get me into the event – all I had to do was find the tour manager and I was in.
The rules for the book signing were clearly spelled out. Only one signature and one photo per fan, no picture retakes, Rick would only sign his book ('Late, Late at Night'), and there was no guarantee that every fan would get a chance for a moment with Rick.
I arrived at the store a bit nervous and tried to find my contact. I was sent to the back of the store. What I didn't know was Rick was back there. As I stood waiting for my contact, Rick walked by me. He stopped in front of me and smiled and then was ushered to the front of the store where the screaming fans were waiting patiently.
Unfortunately, the store manager wasn't buying my story about being set up by Rick's publicist. Enter the tour manager – he was under the impression I was there simply for a photo and an autograph. I calmly explained that I wanted both, but asked if I could sit quietly in front and take pictures of Rick as he signed books for the fans. I was given permission to stay. I was the only person permitted to stay up in front aside from Rick's security and a local photographer.
Then I was taken by surprise. Seeing that I had Rick's book in my hand, the tour manager said, 'lets get you in there now,' pointing to Rick. I was taken aback and said 'I don't want to make anyone angry by going ahead of them.' Rick suddenly looked over and asked 'what are we doing?' The tour manager gave me a little push forward and said 'can you take care of her right now.'
Rick smiled at me as I marched up to him babbling that I was 'a local writer just trying to get some pictures.' He signed the book and for some reason I looked at him and said 'I love you.' He smiled and said 'thank you very much sweetheart.' At that point I leaned in for a hug, not knowing what to expect. Rick didn't hesitate. Yes, I hugged Rick Springfield and he hugged me back.
For the remainder of the event, I was sitting quietly in front of Rick taking pictures with what must have been a big stupid grin on my face.
Rick sat perched on a table dressed all in black. His high top Converse All Stars were untied. At 61, he doesn't look a day over 45. One by one the fans walked up for a signature and a quick photo.
Rick was kind and gracious to everyone, signing LP's, CD's, photos, and whatever else people presented him with. Rick didn't disappoint – he was genuinely nice and very soft spoken. He was very sweet and appreciative and not the least bit intimidating.
The crowd was mostly made up of females. There were mothers and daughters of all ages. There were even a few young children. Some fans were visibly nervous and others appeared very shy. A few women boldly kissed Rick's cheek. Some spoke to him, others didn't. Everyone was giddy and excited to be so close to Rick. At last count, Rick saw 300 fans.
When the very last fan was through the line (and not until), Rick posed for a photo with the Barnes & Noble staff. Then he was ushered out of the store.
I spoke with some fans at the event. Many were going to the concert at Detroit's Motor City Casino later that night. Some of them admitted they 'took the day off work' to attend the book signing.
'I saw Rick in concert recently,' one woman told me. 'You'll find that he puts on a better show now than he did in the 80's,' she continued.
The Barnes & Noble staff ran the event very smoothly. It was well-managed and well-organized.
I have to confess that I'm now an incredibly content Rick Springfield addict.
For more on Rick Springfield, visit his official website.
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