Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien

Dusty Springfield

I thought I’d give you a short history lesson about Dusty Springfield’s childhood, since it’s really interesting to have a bit background info first when reading about a superstar like her. We all know her as Dusty Springfield but that wasn’t her name when she was born in April 16th 1939. She was born in West Hampstead in North London as Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadotte O’Brien, her first name Mary. She was the second child who came to the O’Brien family. She had an older brother called Dionysius P A O’Brien born in 1934. Her father Gerard Anthony O’Brien was born in 1904 and mother Catherine Anne O’Brien (born Ryle) in 1900. Her mother came from Ireland and her father grew up in British India and worked as a tax consultant and accountant.

Growing up Dusty was a real tomboy and she actually got her nickname Dusty from playing football with the boys on the street outside their home. The family lived her first years in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, but 1950 the family moved to the West London borough Ealing. She attended an all-girl school, the St Anne’s Convent School in Northfields. The family had a lot of argues, the father was a perfectionist and therefore her mother’s frustrations would sometimes result in food throwing and yelling. It wasn’t easy growing up and her childhood included drinking-problem and a lot of fights within the family. The food-throwing was something Dusty adopted and also did as a grown-up according to facts about her. Various sorces tells about a tuff childhood and possibly this troubled childhood affected her a lot.

Her interest for music came from her background and family, they all enjoyed music a lot and she learned to sing at home. She had a love for music and used to listen to music like Cole Porter, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller. When she was 12 she recorded herself singing the song “When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam” by Irving Berlin. The first professional group she joined was ”The Lana Sisters” in 1950. Two years later, in 1960 when she was 21 she and her brother and an other friend started the band ”The Springfield’s”. Her brother had already renamed himself Tom Springfield. Together with Tim Field the siblings started this pop-folk vocal trio. The band split up in 1963 when she wanted to start her solo career. I’ll continue with that another day, that’s yet another interesting chapter of the life of Dusty Springfield.