Springfield was born Richard Springthorpe on August 23, 1949 in Sydney, Australia to a military man; the family moved around Australia and England a great deal during Rick's childhood, and he sought his escape from the difficulty of making friends in books and music. He formed a band in high school and eventually joined a '50s revival group called Rock House, moving on from there to join the teenybopper band Zoot in 1968. Zoot became one of the most popular groups in Australia until 1971, scoring several hits. Springfield went solo after the breakup and garnered his first U.S. success the following year with a re-recording of his Australian hit "Speak to the Sky"; the song reached number 14 in the U.S., but would prove to be his last major success for quite some time. Subsequent '70s albums stiffed, and record company difficulties prevented Springfield from recording after 1976.
In the meantime, Springfield had begun taking acting classes; he signed a contract with Universal Studios in 1980 and appeared on several television programs. Although Universal dropped him shortly thereafter, he was able to secure a recording contract with RCA on the strength of his demos; in the midst of recording his debut for the label, he was signed to play the young, eligible Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital in 1981. Springfield's popularity skyrocketed, setting the stage for the release of Working Class Dog later that year. Powered by the classic single "Jessie's Girl," which eventually hit the top of the charts, and the Top Ten follow-up "I've Done Everything for You," Working Class Dog was a smash success, and Springfield eventually returned to his first love of music when concerts conflicted with his television career. The follow-up, Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet, was released in 1982, spawning the Top Ten smash "Don't Talk to Strangers"; 1983's Living in Oz offered more of the same, including the Top Ten "Affair of the Heart."