She would work very hard to get exactly the semitone which would make her strain the vocal at the top end, so you get this kind of wonderful torture. For example, in "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" she pushed that key change to the absolute limit, so she could only just squeeze it out. To me, she sounded like a little mouse on a railway line when an express train is coming towards her, and you just want to hug that little mouse and save its life...
It was like putting a jigsaw together. Dusty would have made a great scientist, because she analysed every detail.. Dusty Springfield was a creation of Mary O'Brien. She was almost not like a real person. She put the whole package together - the hair, the shoes, the gestures - and she had impeccable taste. There's a saying that the true nature of art reveals itself only at the very highest level, and I think that was the way with Dusty.
Dusty takes your song and makes it sound 10 times better.
Annie J Randall, musicologist:
The Sounds of Motown was conceived and hosted by Springfield for the express purpose of igniting the careers of the Detroit singers in European markets. [It] embodied a rejection of racism and apartheid for an international audience [and was] undoubtedly as important as the endlessly analyzed social phenomena associated with the Beatles and the British Invasion.
Greil Marcus, journalist for Rolling Stone:
...a soft, sensual (voice) box that allowed her to combine syllables until they turned into pure cream.
Man, she’s so fine..
The first time I heard Dusty Springfield sing, I became smitten with her voice. The times we have worked together over the years have been some of the most memorable in my life. She is a very special lady and my favorite singer of all time.
Dusty Springfield is one of the greatest singers and interpreters of song in our time. She not only sings the song - she lives the song. It's been an honor, a privilege and a treasure to have her perform so much of my work. I consider Dusty a partner in my songs and a friend in my life.
If you scraped off the Irish Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien, she was black underneath. That’s what you found out.
With Dusty, you're never sure what you're getting. She can thrill something throwaway and sexist like “Wishin' and Hopin',” then she can come out with a fighting track like “You Don't Own Me.
Dusty was one of the sweetest persons I have ever met, without a single bone of malice or unkindness in her body. Nevertheless, she wanted things to be right however much trouble it might take and it is perhaps this kind of persistence, this drive for perfection that had caused some in the music business to have considered her to be 'difficult'.
As a group, we then ran through the whole act, responding willingly to every one of Dusty's precise instructions, including dance step directions for Douggie and the boys, until our leader's previously-clouded face was beaming with contentment and pride. It all sounded tremendous; she had demolished most of what we had started out with and rebuilt the whole edifice from the bottom upwards in a minimum of time, and without ruffling a single feather. Yes. Dusty really knew her business.
Her appealing voice soared above the tumult like an eagle on the wing and the rest of us were sure of one thing. We were in the presence of greatness.
Listening to Dusty brings back memories of my junior high school years. When she arrived on the scene, she really made a serious impact. No white woman had ever sounded like her. As a developing singer-songwriter, Dusty was one of the voices I would try to emulate-she has such a rich, soulful quality. Recording Home to Myself with her in 1974 was an incredibly rewarding experience. I believe it was the first time another artist had recorded one of my compositions and I was thrilled that I was hired to play the piano. I'm delighted [with] Dusty's performance of the song. She's one of the truly great singers.
She’s into her music; it’s 100% of her life. Anything else is secondary.
The way that she looked was easy to impersonate, but the voice was impossible to imitate. Dusty was the perfect pop singer.
Tremendous voice, tremendous singer. And very emotional about what she does, and I think that’s probably not only her first love, but her only love.
Dusty Springfield possesses one of the most identifiable and soulful voices of our time. I was aware of her in my teens as she bagan to emerge with her unique sounding hits. But with the release of Dusty in Memphis, I became a life-long fan. When as a young singer-songwriter, I was told that she was about to cut the first song I had ever written, I Am Your child, I was thrilled beyond belief. When Dusty and Brooks Arthur requested I play for her, I was honoured. At the session in 1974, I remember that Dusty insisted I play the exact same accompaniment that I had played for my own version of I Am Your Child. I remember having to do a little math on the spot because my key was totally different than hers. She loved the song and my accompaniment, and I loved her for loving them!
Gerry Marsden, of Gerry and the Pacemakers:
We did not know Dusty before the tour. She was mad as a hatter and great fun to be with. Once somebody at the theatre brought a cup of coffee to Dusty's dressing room. She had wanted tea, and when she noticed it was not she threw the cup against the wall and whacked out all the light bulbs in her dressing table mirror with the tray. She was shouting, what is this ? We heard smashing and rushed to see what was happening. I thought rock on. Good for you girl. The boys in the band had played tricks on Dusty, so she played them back. She would slap you on the back or leave a drawing pin on your seat. We would put in 5 am wake up calls for each other mostly on days off. We had lots of laughs during the tour.
We (Nancy Sinatra and I) met through her producer, Lee Hazlewood, whom we did dozens of sessions with including, early in 1968, a song called Sweet Ride for Dusty Springfield. I had always loved Dusty's voice and her ability to sing rhythm and blues songs, even though she was a pop singer from England. she didn't sound black, she just sung everything from her gut and always turned a mirror on a song's best intentions. We had never worked together before, and I'd heard all kinds of horror stories about her throwing teacups out of rage, berating musicians and generally being a scourge to everyone who crossed those panda eyes of hers.
But she couldn't have been nicer: in fact she had asked Lee to book us specifically because she was "in awe" of us! She was very hard on herself, and worked her lead over and over. But it was a real pleasure being around her, and my only regret is that we never got to work together again. She went back to England after that, and though she later moved to the States, our paths never crossed. But I'll always remember "Sweet Ride" as one of those truly magic moments in the studio, gone almost as soon as it occurred but playing in heavy rotation in my memory.
Martha Reeves [on touring England]:
I always looked forward to Dusty's visits. She was my devoted friend, and it made me feel special and loved to have a close friend like her. On one of her visits, she had been working in a different town and was not booked in our hotel. She was having problems in her personal life at the time that made her cry. We had a heart-to-heart talk, but I couldn't get her to go into it. She had been having trouble sleeping, although she was exhausted. She was so relaxed after tea service in my room that she curled up and went to sleep fully dressed, just like the baby doll that she was. She looked so peaceful, so I just let her sleep, and I covered her with a comforter like any friend would. The next morning Mickey Stevenson came knocking at my door to tell me of some changes in the show scheduling for the day. As Mickey was standing in the doorway talking to me about some alterations in the show's lineup, he looked past me and spotted Dusty as she lay there with one of her big legs stuck out from under the comforter - fishnet stockings and all. For the rest of the day, all the men on the show kidded and teased me, as though something odd had transpired. I was amazed at just how others regarded our friendship, but I couldn't have cared less what anyone thought.
Martha Reeves [on The Sounds of Motown]:
Dusty allowed me to sing a duet with her on her big hit "Wishin' and Hopin'" with the Vandellas singing background. I could see Diane [Ross] in the wings eating her heart out because she hadn't been chosen to do it.
Pianist Bobby Woods, on the Dusty in Memphis sessions:
It was a kinda icky situation. I didn’t want too get to close to it. At that time people didn’t dare come out of the closet. In the country where I came from, if someone found out someone was homosexual you either got hung [sic] or ran out of town. It was that strong. I was a naïve Southern Baptist boy. I’m not judging her, that’s between her and the Almighty.
Jerry Wexler, Producer of Dusty in Memphis:
Dusty had a very fragile temperament, and was a very fragile person. She didn’t feel right because it was Aretha Franklin’s booth or Wilson Pickett or so on. But the performance she finally delivered was incredible. She had a magical soullike quality of her own which is not rhythm and blues or jazz, I don’t how to characterise it. Usually if you say it is too white or too vanilla, you are saying that it lacks soul or passion, but Dusty was the incarnation of the white soul queen. She infused everything she did with tremendous passion. There was a certain sexual vulnerability that Dusty conveyed that was a very important component in reaching her audience.
She hadn't recorded for several years, but as soon as she arrived in the studio and began to sing, we knew that the greatest female singer Britain has ever produced was still on brilliant form. Quite honestly, we were in awe of her. Dusty was a tender, exhilarating and soulful singer; incredibly intelligent at phrasing a song, painstakingly building it up to a thrilling climax. She was also a warm and funny person.
To me she was as good as Aretha Franklin... and completely timeless... she was the greatest.
Love that Dusty! She has such an idiosyncratic voice, you always know it's her. She's perennially vulnerable, perennially young and a perennial teenager with that kind of angst in the voice, that cry for help, you know, the little girl waiting to be rescued by the big white knight or whatever. I've always loved her voice, I think as a technician she's one of the best, she's a true soul singer. Lots and lots of heartbreak and she's another one who we always believe. She can't sing a bad note, never has, and every time she sings the song, it has depth, you know. That's what a great artist is, a great artist manages to make even the slightest pop tune.. she manages to invest those slight pop tunes with meaning. I really miss her, I really miss her.
The voice is... one of the greatest voices in pop music, without doubt. And I don’t think she’s ever really got credit for that because people concentrate on the icon aspect of it. You know, the hair and the eyelashes and the hand movements.
Another of Johnny’s guests that week in 1970 was the inimitable Dusty Springfield. I’d met Dusty years before on my first trip to London, she her brother Tom and Tim Field then comprised a country-folk trio called "The Springfield’s." Now only a few years later we were big enough in our own rights to be guesting with Johnny Cash. What a heady time for both of us. After we finishing taping the Cash show, Dusty, Norma Tanega, Edward and I traveled back to LA together and had another week of craziness. We did the town, I showed her off to everyone, before she flew off to London and I headed out for a tour of Australia. Both vowing we’d see each other soon and certainly work together again. Boy, did we.
Of course these memories and so many others have crowded my head since Dusty’s death from breast cancer last week. I have been trying to write something meaningful about our personal and professional friendship that has spanned four decades. It’s been impossible. A letter about a TV show 29 years ago with Johnny & Dusty seems like yesterday. I’ve played and replayed tapes of my British TV series where Dusty was a special guest and "The Christmas in New England" special we did together; listened to her marvelous recording of "If You Go Away" and "Simple Gifts" and especially the duets we did on various shows. And, I’ve reread her letters and cables. So much of Dusty is there and so much is missing.
In the end I’ve put this task aside and will return to it another time. Dusty Springfield’s talent and intelligence are way beyond emotion. And I’m so filled with emotion and grief about Dusty’s too short life, and the love she radiated during it, that this is neither the time or place for a proper and deserved eulogy. One of a kind, indeed. Irreplaceable, you bet.. I love you Dusty and I always will.
There was only one Dusty Springfield. When she died, music lost a legend.
She was a real powerful force, and yet she was shy and vulnerable... to sing with that amount of passion takes courage... Dusty had such a great spirit that will never die.
Dusty always had credibility. I was glad I had the chance to tell her how much I and the other Beatles had always thought of her. She was a great singer and a beautiful lady who will be missed by many.
Dusty was on 'Later' and she performed the song Where Is A Woman To Go. In this performance she got Allison Moyet and Sinead O'Connor to come and sing the backing vocals and I was very excited, and nervous about meeting her becuase I'd been such a fan since I was a small child. But she was totally musical and completely in control through gentleness and encouraging to all the people around her, and so in the end, a brilliant performance came out of not just her but she bought it out of all the people around her.
I've never ever turned her off. I've never skipped a song.. . . When people say my name and her name in the same sentence, it's crazy! Dusty is amazing.
There is a hole in music where Dusty Springfield used to be.
Dusty is singing
The drab evening
In sparkle gown
Arcs of vibrato
Dusty is singing.