Rick Springfield is more than a daytime soap star and singer of the hit "Jessie's Girl," which was recently voted as the No. 1 karaoke song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. He is also a devoted husband and father of two who bonded with one son over Radiohead's far-out "Kid A."
Now, after decades of Top 40 hits and 19 million albums sold, Springfield is releasing "Venus in Overdrive," his first record in five years.
"Playing it now has become more like a family member," Springfield said about "Jessie's Girl." "It's kind of gone beyond being a song … that is really just like saying, 'Here is one of my really good friends,'" Springfield told "Nightline" in an interview in New York's Kobe Club restaurant.
But while he admits he is a pop artist, Springfield also claims an allegiance to far heavier rock.
"It's always been Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and the heavier bands," he said. "You, know, like Tool. I love Tool."
One reason he loves Tool is his eldest son's affection for the band. Radiohead is another shared enthusiasm.
"I was driving him to school and we were so excited, both of us, about 'Kid A' coming out," Springfield said.
Father and son had their minds blown by the previous Radiohead album, "O.K. Computer." Then "Kid A" came on the car radio.
"We both looked at each other and we were like, 'What is this?'" Springfield said. "So anytime I hear anything from 'Kid A,' I am back in the car, driving my son to school."
Springfield was weaned on classic rock in his native Australia. As a second-grader, he walked to school with Bobby Darin's "Dream Lover" stuck in his head.
"That was the first time that I was aware of saying 'Hey, that is a cool song,'" Springfield said.
When the Beatles blew up in England, there was a simultaneous explosion in Australia, a land of English transplants, according to Springfield. "Please Please Me," was the chart-topper.
"My brother bought the album," Springfield said. "He had the record player because he was the older brother, so he got it in his bedroom. And I just remember, you know, just sitting in my room listening to him play that record over and over and over. … I could not believe how good it was."
"I was in a band called 'The Zoot' in Australia when Bon [Scott] was in a rival band called The Valentines," Springfield said. Both were teen bands: "We wore pink and they wore pale red."
When he heard Bon on the radio screaming "Highway to Hell," Springfield was shocked. "Oh my God, I did not know this guy could sing like this."
"Highway to Hell," he said, "was just … one of those ones where the hair on the back of your neck stood up. [It] is the perfect song."
Then came Hendrix. Like Eric Clapton, Springfield was fascinated by American blues musicians. One day he heard a cover band in Australia play an amazing, "almost kind of atonal" riff that stopped Springfield in his tracks.
"It did not fit. How someone could come up with that and make a great song out of it was just incredible," Springfield said. "I still get chills when I hear that opening riff."
"I wrote a lot of songs about my girlfriend, who became my wife," Springfield said. "So, 'Don't Talk to Strangers' is about my sexual paranoia about her, because I was being a big jerk on the road, and thinking, wow, what is she doing?"
"She did not really know it was about her," Springfield said. "It was kind of, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I wrote this song about you,' you know -- 'and just don't talk to strangers.'"
Wife Barbara's favorite song he has written about her is "Souls," which tells of their intercontinental love story. "Any time I play 'Souls' or 'Don't Talk to Strangers,' I always think of her," Springfield said.
The title track off his new album, "Venus in Overdrive," pays tribute to Barbara's steady presence in his life. "While I have gone off the deep end a couple of times, she has been the rock that has held us together, and she's a real lover."
Springfield is a self-described Queens of the Stone Age fan. He admires songs like "No One Knows" and "Go With the Flow."
"I love his approach," Springfield said. "It's got a kind of a Cream vibe to it. Sometimes he's got kind of Jack Bruce vibe to the way he sings, but I love the power in the band too."