Rick Springfield entertains thousands of mostly female fans at the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival Summer Block Party behind the Brookhaven Marta Station July 30. (Beth E. Concepción)

An amazing thing happened near the end of 1980s pop icon Rick Springfield’s show July 30 at the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival Summer Block Party: Springfield put on what amounted to a hazmat suit and ventured into the thousands-strong crowd of mostly women of a certain age.

It was during the song “Human Touch.” He said, “I’m going to come out there and hug every one of you.” One woman turned to the other and said, “Oh my God. I would die.”

That’s the effect Springfield has on his very female fan base.

“Why am I here? Should I be honest?” asked Sarah Moore from Johns Creek.

“She just wants to look at him,” her friend said.

“I just want to look at him,” Moore agreed. “Hotel key? Where’s your hotel key? You know I’m trying to get a shot at the title. You know what I mean.”

Pam Holbrook drove from Ohio to get a look at Springfield.

“We love Rick Springfield. He’s amazing. He loves his fans. He treats us like family, and he looks good too,” she said.

Holbrook isn’t the only one who made the trek to Brookhaven. The concert drew pods of fans from all over the United States.

Kathy Carswell drove from Columbia, South Carolina, to meet up with friends from Maryland, Tennessee and North Carolina.

“It’s the energy of the show, and to be able to feel like I’m 12 years old again,” Carswell said. 

Wendy Domanski from Santa Barbara, California; Teri Kreighbaum from Elkhart, Indiana; and Maggie Gilliland from Burton, Ohio, are part of a group of 30 women from all over the country who have been going to his concerts together for 22 years. Kreighbaum estimates they’ve seen Springfield 400 times.

“It’s the first time seeing him since the pandemic,” Domanski said. “It’s so good to have the group back together again.”

The trio and others lost their collective minds when Springfield did a hip shimmy as part of showing off his shirt advertising the Beach Bar Rum venture with Sammy Hagar. Gilliland turned to Kreighbaum and said, “I LOVE HIM!”

Springfield, who turns 72 on Aug. 23, seemed bemused when asked about his continued appeal among women.

Teri Kreighbaum uses a plastic baby hand to stroke Rick Springfield’s leg during the July 30 concert behind the Brookhaven Marta Station. Other female fans used their own hands. (Beth E. Concepción)

“I’m very honored that they still consider me pin-up worthy,” he said. “I’m just glad they are there, and I hope they keep coming. It’s a great way to connect. It’s the only way I really connect with people. I’m kind of a loner.”

Alicia Thomas of Selma, North Carolina, has seen Springfield more than 20 times, and said she appreciates that connection.

“I never watched him on ‘General Hospital.’ I knew him for what he wanted to be known for, which was his music,” she said. “The songs that he wrote and the words that he wrote really hit home for me because I was a teenager in the ‘80s, and I’ve been in love with him ever since.”

Not all fans at the concert were women who grew up in the golden age of MTV, which went on the air 40 years ago Aug. 1. Top song on that day? Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl,” which was the showstopper of the night, of course.

Jamie Thacker, who is 20 years old, has been going to Springfield concerts since she was 4 years old, thanks to her mom.

“It’s a tradition now,” she said. “I love his lyrics. I’ve always been a huge fan.”

“It’s about the music,” Springfield said. “I have a killer band, and we aim to rock you.”

Thousands of fans would say that he did, in between singing the lyrics to “Don’t Talk to Strangers” and “I’ve Done Everything for You.”

“I’m in awe of them and their energy and support,” Springfield said, heartthrob status intact.

Rick Springfield entertains thousands at the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival Summer Block Party behind the Brookhaven Marta Station July 30. (Beth E. Concepción)

Beth E. Concepción

Beth E. Concepción is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years of experience in print and broadcast media.