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Rock Hall Anniversary: Death of Dusty Springfield

Fifteen years ago on March 2, 1999, the music world lost one of its most acclaimed pop icons when Dusty Springfield succumbed to breast cancer, after battling the disease for five years. She died at her home in Henley-on-Thames, England, at the age of 59.

In the 1960s, Springfield was known for her string of hits including “I Only Want to Be With You”, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”, and “The Look of Love”. Her sensual sound and smoky voice made her an important artist of the term “blue-eyed soul”, paving the way for future artists including Teena Marie, Amy Winehouse, and Joss Stone. She was also renowned for her style, which consisted of a blonde bouffant hairdo, evening gowns, and panda-esque eye makeup. Both styles have also made her a gay icon, especially for the style of “camp”.

But it was the album that she released in 1969, that would further her icon status, Dusty in Memphis. Despite peaking at number 99 on the US charts, and not reaching the UK’s top 15, it has been regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time, and one single “Son of a Preacher Man” did cracked the top ten worldwide.

One the last honors Springfield received before her death was the title of OBE (Order of the British Empire). Unable to appear at Buckingham Palace due to her illness, manager Vicki Wickham accepted the award on her behalf, and presented to Springfield in the hospital. Her title is engraved on her marker, located at St. Mary’s Church in Oxfordshire. Two weeks after her passing, Springfield was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Elton John.

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