Writer(s): Rick Springfield (see lyrics here)
First Charted: March 21, 1981
Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 12 HR, 8 RR, 7 CL, 10 AR, 15 CO, 43 UK, 6 CN, 11 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.96 US, 0.4 UK, 2.44 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 58.6 video, 438.76 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
August 1, 1981 will always be considered one of the most important dates in music history because of the debut of MTV. For Rick Springfield, the date had different significance. It was when his song, “Jessie’s Girl,” hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. The hit was a long time coming. He’d released four previous solo albums before, but to minimal success. It had been a full decade since his first single, “Speak to the Sky,” hit #14. He hadn’t touched the top 40 since.
With his music career stalling, his then-girlfriend, actress Linda Blair, suggested he try acting. SF He made his debut on a TV episode of The Six Million Dollar Man in 1977. Guest spots on The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries, Wonder Woman, The Rockford Files, and The Incredible Hulk followed. In the spring of 1981, he became a soap opera star, starring as Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital. He had already recorded another album, Working Class Dog, but signed the TV deal because he assumed the album would go nowhere. WK
However, the album finally made Springfield a superstar, reaching the top 10 and selling three million copies, thanks to “Jessie’s Girl,” “I’ve Done Everything for You” (#8), and “Love Is Alright Tonite” (#20). “Jessie’s Girl” wasn’t an immediate hit, though. It had one of the slowest climbs to #1 at the time, taking 19 weeks from its debut on the Billboard Hot 100 on March 28, 1981 to the time it finally reached the pinnacle in August. The song also earned a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
Springfield wrote the song from the perspective of a guy pining after his friend’s girlfriend. It was inspired by a real-life situation in which Springfield was taking a stained glass class in Pasadena. He met a guy named Gary and his girlfriend, who completely turned him on SF but, he said “I was never really introduced to her. It was always just, like, panting from afar.” WK He doubts she even knows she was the inspiration for the song. WK
First posted 10/23/2020; last updated 10/26/2022.