Back in the summer of 1981, rock star Rick Springfield met Stephen King–getting his first edition of Danse Macabre personally inscribed by one of his favorite writers.
The horror novelist signed the book and referenced Springfield’s previous work as an actor: “To Rick Springfield. I don’t watch General Hospital but I love your music! Stephen King 6/6/81.”
Somehow, Springfield managed to lose that lovely bit of literary history, and thought it was gone forever. Until he landed a book deal with Stephen King’s publisher. We caught up with Springfield and he retold the whole crazy story…
Springfield described the original signing in an email interview:
It was on one of my initial forays out into the world after the success of ‘Jessie’s Girl.’ I was staying at some hotel somewhere (don’t remember where) and Stephen was there too on a tour for the new book. I’ve always been a lover of the horror genre. In fact when I was asked (yes asked) to leave high school at 16, I think my saving grace was music and all the horror books I read nonstop and which I stole from a local second hand book store (mainly becuase I couldn’t afford them, but also becuase there was a an element of stealing from ‘the man’ which was a thrill for me in my confused mid teens).
I have a few signed books (Fahrenheit 451 signed to me from Ray Bradbury) and the whole inscription was so cool from Stephen. It says ‘To Rick Springfield. I don’t watch General Hospital but I love your music! Stephen King 6/6/81.’ So it places the signing at a pivotal point in the beginning of my career and it is from one of my favorite modern writers.
At some point between 1981 and the present, Springfield lost the book. He speculated that it was lost while spring cleaning or that perhaps “some light fingered soul pilfered it from my house.” A fan recently spotted the book on eBay, being sold for a whopping $600 by a mystery seller.
Springfield had decided not to buy it, but he told Simon & Schuster’s Touchstone imprint publisher Stacy Creamer about the lost book. She had a different opinion. Creamer explained in an email interview:
When Rick told me the story of the King book’s loss and that it was for sale on eBay, I immediately told him to buy it. That was before I checked out the listing myself. The asking price was $600! The date was June 6, 1981—so maybe four months after the release of Jessie’s Girl and Rick’s album Working Class Dog. (And I had graduated from college just days before).
I told this story to my boss, Scribner President Susan Moldow, who is Stephen King’s longtime publisher. She immediately said to raise Rick’s advance for his novel Magnificent Vibration by $600—on the condition that he nab Danse Macabre. I told Rick and he nabbed it. David Patterson and the folks at Foundry liked this gesture so much, they waived their commission on the $600. Susan subsequently told Stephen King the story and he was quite amused and pleased. So win-win-win-win!
So, as you can see by the photograph embedded below, Springfield recovered his lost book with some help from his new publisher.
The rock star and author explained why the book meant so much to him:
I had this huge cardboard box at home filled with about 60 novels and short stories by Robert Bloch, August Derleth, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker (of course), Sheridan Le Fanu, Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury and a series of short stories called The Pan Book of Horror Stories (of which I had the whole set).
And I felt, the way Stephen wrote that he must have read a lot of these books too as a kid so there was a kind of kinship becuase I am a horror fan and he is a music fan.
He concluded: “Now I have it in my collection I’m very glad I did it. But I do check books very thoroughly now on their way to Goodwill.”
If you want to listen to some of the tracks on Working Class Dog (the 1981 album that inspired King’s inscription) follow the free Spotify links below…
Working Class Dog by Rick Springfield
Rick Springfield – Love Is Alright Tonite
Rick Springfield – Jessie’s Girl
Rick Springfield – Hole In My Heart
Rick Springfield – Carry Me Away
Rick Springfield – I’ve Done Everything For You
Rick Springfield – The Light Of Love
Rick Springfield – Everybody’s Girl
Rick Springfield – Daddy’s Pearl
Rick Springfield – Red Hot & Blue Love
Rick Springfield – Inside Silvia
Full Disclosure: This GalleyCat editor will publish a book with Touchstone and shares a literary agent with Springfield.