Dusty Springfield (1939 – 1999) was born in West Hampstead, London as Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien, and was a fan of American jazz and a great lover of pop singer Peggy Lee's music from an early age. The name "Dusty" was already given to her when she was a child, probably as she had been a tomboy in her early years.
Her first professional musical experience was with the group Lana Sisters, a British vocal group she joined in 1958 and recorded several singles with over the next two years. In 1960, she joined her brother Dion and Tim Feild, who were a double act under the name of "The Kensington Squares", to form The Springfields, a folk trio. They picked the band name when practising together in a field in Somerset in the spring of the same year. Mary took the name Dusty Springfield after forming the group. They signed their first contract with Johnny Franz at Philips Records, and their first single "Dear John" became number one on the BBC charts. Soon, the Springfields became popular in Britain with singles such as "Breakaway", "Bambino" and their biggest hit "Island of Dreams". By 1962, the Springfields had some success in the United States with "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" and they received the Emmy Award for the group of the year.
During a tour of the United States, The Springfields travelled to Nashville, Tennessee. Springfield became enamoured of the Motown sound she heard in the States, particularly girl groups like Martha & The Vandellas. She was keen to escape the controlling influence of her older brother and gain full command over her music, so in late 1963, she left The Springfields to establish herself as a soul singer.
Dusty's first solo single was "I Only Want to Be With You", a success in both Britain and the United States. This was followed by a series of classic and successful singles, including "Stay Awhile", "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself", and "Losing You". She recorded a number of Bacharach-David compositions, one of which was specifically written for her, "The Look of Love" (from the 1967 spoof Bond movie Casino Royale, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song in 1967.) By 1964, Springfield was one of the biggest solo artists of her day. She created a controversy when she refused to play in front of a segregated crowd in South Africa. She was often a featured artist on the British music show Ready Steady Go!, produced by Vicki Wickham, who would later become her manager.
Springfield's huge UK success led to her starring in her own BBC television series, Dusty (1966-7), followed by an ITV series "It Must Be Dusty" in 1968. She returned to the BBC for her final series "Definitely Dusty" in 1969. Her shows featured many leading stars of the day as guests. One of the most memorable was Jimi Hendrix, who appeared in a duet with Springfield on the song "Mockingbird". Because of her interest in Motown music, Springfield was selected in 1965 to host The Sound of Motown, a Ready Steady Go! special which introduced Motown and American soul music to British audiences.