Dusty, soul of British pop, dies

DUSTY SPRINGFIELD died at her home in Henley-on-Thames on Tuesday night after a long battle with cancer.

The 59-year-old singer, whose trademark blonde beehive and "panda" eye make-up inspired a generation of modettes, was diagnosed with cancer after finding a lump in her breast in 1994. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy failed to cure the cancer and she moved to her present home late last year to find peace and solitude before she died.

Springfield, whose real name was Mary O'Brien, was born in north London in 1939. She was awarded the OBE in the New Year's honours list and received it in a private ceremony at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London four weeks ago. Tributes to the singer were led by the Queen who was said by Buckingham Palace to be "saddened" by the singer's death so shortly after she received her OBE.

Sir Elton John, who was given the news of her death while touring America said: "I thought that Dusty was the best white British female singer to come along at the time. To me, she was as good a singer as Aretha Franklin."

Contemporaries from the 1960s also joined the tributes: "She was an incredible artist," Cilla Black said from her home yesterday. "I'm very sad and deeply shocked."

A spokeswoman for Lulu, who was a friend of Dusty Springfield for 30 years said: "I have just spoken to Lulu, and she just said that she is obviously very sad, but at the same time relieved that Dusty is no longer suffering."

Springfield got her start in pop with an all-girl group called the Lana Sisters before forming The Springfields, a folk group, with her brother. They had hits in the UK and the United States before she began her solo career in 1963. Her first hit was in 1964, with "I Only Want to be With You", a song, which like many of her hits was influenced by her passion for the Motown label's soul music.

She was an intensely private person and her trademark make-up and wig were part of a plan to preserve her anonymity and privacy. After her successes in the Sixties, which included the songs "Son of a Preacher Man", "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" and "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself", she went through a period of decline.

She moved to the US in the early Seventies and after her album Cameo did not record a hit for many years.

After a series of comebacks and a battle with drugs and alcohol, she hit the charts in the Eighties with the Pet Shop Boys and the single "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" Her songs started to feature on film soundtracks and she became a figure of tragic adoration for the gay community.

The Pet Shop Boys said yesterday: "Dusty was the pop icon of her generation and brought pleasure to millions of music lovers around the world. She will be sadly missed."

Her appearances on the influential pop programme Ready Steady Go have secured her place in the culture of the early Sixties. For a generation, the Profumo scandal and bank holiday clashes between mods and rockers are all replayed in their memories to the background of a Dusty Springfield song.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links