Yesterday, when she was young
The voice and the talent came to her naturally and her family gave her a solid foundation in musical understanding. Dion, her brother, was a gifted singer. Her father was an enthusiast of all kinds of music, exposing Dusty and Dion to almost every genre from an early age.  Dusty and Dion’s summer jobs performing at holiday camps provided a bit of extra money and a taste of how rewarding it could be to sing in public, even if she often had a lot of anxiety before going on stage.
“Performing is something I can’t say I look forward to. It’s something I enjoy once I am doing it.” 
In 1958, Dusty replied to a newspaper advertisement placed by two young women who were seeking another singer to form a trio.  Together the three became the Lana Sisters, although none were actually related to each other. The trio sang popular mostly upbeat songs, including some that were precursors to the Motown “girl group” sounds that would be driving Dusty a few years later.
The group achieved modest success but eventually the members left to pursue other opportunities. During these early years, Dusty — still performing as Mary O’Brien — got some experience in the Lana Sisters as a professional vocalist, from making records to touring to television appearances.
After her stint with the Lana Sisters, Dusty joined up once again with her brother, Dion, in 1960. Together with Dion’s friend, Tim Feild, they formed a trio and named it the Springfields. With their new group name came new stage identities: Dion O’Brien became Tom Springfield and Mary O’Brien became Dusty Springfield, a name that would soon become famous around the world.
“Dusty” had been her nickname in childhood, descriptive of her appearance after an afternoon of hard play in various sports. Using a stage name let her temporarily shed some of her insecurities and become the glamorous star she had wanted to be as a girl. According to Pat Rhodes, her longtime personal assistant,
“She did panic before she went on. She used to go bright red, here [points to upper chest], completely bright red. But once she was on, you know what she was like, a different person.” 
Dusty had a hard time believing that the public really did appreciate her talent.
“… after a performance they come and say “you were great” and I didn’t think I was great and it took me several years to learn that it’s very important what they think and not quite so important what I think, because if it makes them happy, that’s what I’m in it for, to make them happy.” 
Once she finally got it, she committed herself to being the star that people expected her to be; she wasn’t going to let them down. Madeline Bell, a close friend, said,
“She wouldn’t leave the house until she had all of her makeup on because that’s what the public expected, her to have the black eyes and all of that. Every morning it would take her two hours to get ready, you know, it’s like ‘Why? It’s not your face they’re after, it’s your voice’ … She used to say ‘They want to see Dusty.’ But when she was home and didn’t have the makeup on — which wasn’t very often — she was Mary.” 
Long before Dusty fell in love with American soul music, she and the Springfields were performing as an American-style folk and country group. Some of their songs were traditional pieces but others were composed by Tom, who would have a very successful career after the Springfields as a composer and producer; he wrote Georgy Girl as well as numerous other hits, including some specifically for his famous sister.
If the Beatles are credited as the initial “shock troops” that started the “British invasion” of American pop music, then the Springfields must have been the advance scouts. One of their hits, Silver Threads and Golden Needles, broke into the American pop charts in 1962, the first ever American Top 20 single by a British group. 
The Springfields had a stopover in New York while en route to Nashville to record a country album in 1962. Walking down Broadway at night, Dusty heard music pouring from the famed Colony Records store. The song was Tell Him, performed by the Exciters, and she knew immediately that that was the kind of music she wanted to sing. 
Soon after, the Springfields disbanded, an amicable breakup all around. Tom much preferred composing and producing over performing and Mike Hurst, the third member of the group at that time, was amenable to pursuing his own career as well.
Shy Dusty would be front and center, all by herself for the first time in her professional career. Now she would have to become the star that she needed to be.
“I decided I wanted to be someone else so I became someone else.” 
Dusty’s dramatic look was an accident of myopia. Severely nearsighted, she couldn’t really see herself clearly in a mirror while applying her stage makeup so she over-applied until it was enough that even her weak eyes could see it. The result became one of the great fashion statements of the 1960s — millions of teenage girls and young women around the world troweled on the mascara and eye liner, emulating Dusty, the personification of the “groovy chick” they aspired to be.
Far from America and its distinctive soul sounds, Dusty nevertheless adopted some semblances of that musical style as she launched her solo career. Rock and roll was guitar driven but Motown soul was heavily orchestrated and harmony driven and Dusty incorporated those elements in her music. Her first hit single, released just three weeks after the Springfields disbanded, was I Only Want To Be With You. Although it was a solo, you can listen to it and easily imagine it rendered by one of Motown’s “girl groups” — and indeed it was the next year when Dusty sang it with her friends Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.
Dusty was an instant hit as a soloist and performed that song as the first act, in January 1964, on the premiere of the BBC’s Top of the Pops, which would run for the next four decades, showcasing the acts and songs that led the British popular music charts. 
Throughout 1964, Dusty would release a string of singles that became hits on both the UK and US charts. They include Wishin’ and Hopin’, I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself, and You Don’t Own Me.
Dusty had the time of her life when she returned to New York in September of 1964. She — the “white chick” with platinum hair and a funny accent — played with Motown greats for six weeks at the Brooklyn Fox theater in shows organized by legendary NYC disc jockey Murray Kaufman. Amidst a cast composed entirely of black soul artists, Dusty was thrilled to work with her musical peers and colleagues. 
The British are coming, the British are coming!
Dusty spearheaded the “British Invasion” along with the Beatles. In January 1964 the Beatles had their first song enter the American top 100; that same month, Dusty’s I Only Want To Be With You entered the U.S. charts as well, eventually reaching the number 12 position. [10, 11]
The British invasion was two-pronged, innovative and talented rock-and-roll groups along with equally impressive pop and R&B performers. Rock-and-roll music was driven by electric guitars with urgent beats; pop and soul — the upcoming sub-genre of R&B — were driven by vocal harmonies and rich orchestral sounds. For the remainder of the decade, popular music in America would be dominated by Brits of both genres: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Petula Clark, the Who, the Dave Clark Five, the Bee Gees, Herman’s Hermits, and many other British performers — and Dusty.
In turn, Dusty was a key player in the “American invasion” of Britain and Europe by soul music and the acts of Motown during that same period.
Dusty was a regular host for a show that debuted in 1963, Ready Steady Go! Unlike the staid BBC’s Top of the Pops, RSG! was more of a free-for-all that fit right in with the spontaneity of the 1960s. Sets were minimal and the crowds mingled with and danced around the musical guests.
Dusty persuaded the producers to give her a special RSG! to introduce American soul artists to Britain. In her 1965 RSG! special, The Sounds of Motown, Dusty presented Martha and the Vandellas, the Temptations, the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and a host of other black talents to the UK and Europe. American soul and R&B took off after that, with many of those performers selling out concert after concert in the UK where they had previously been lucky to half fill a tiny nightclub.
Dusty causes an international dust-up for the sake of justice
Dusty was invited to tour in South Africa in 1964. That nation was still deeply in thrall to apartheid and Dusty — huge fan of soul music and friends with just about every black star in that genre — wasn’t about to put her tacit stamp of approval on such injustice. She insisted that her contract have a unique clause guaranteeing that her audiences would not be segregated.
Before leaving for the tour, she publicly announced her position:
''It's my little bit to help the coloured people there. I think I'm the first British artist to do this. If they force me into anything, I'll be on the first plane home.'' 
Other artists had indeed accepted the status quo and “went along to get along” — but that wasn’t Dusty — and few other artists had her stature, at that time the most popular female singer in the world. Would South Africa dare to take her on and suffer the fallout if they did so and lost?
Sure enough, trouble erupted. Dusty performed two of the scheduled concerts to mixed audiences but then government agents arrived at her hotel and began threatening her. She was ordered to play to segregated audiences for the remainder of the tour. Dusty categorically refused and was deported after a three day standoff.
Back in England, the global press had a field day interviewing her. South Africa’s government, naturally, came across horribly as cruel to its own people and vile toward the much beloved Dusty. The entertainment unions for musicians and variety performers voted to back her up and officially boycott South Africa in the future. Even Parliament got in on the outrage with a bill submitted to condemn the South African government.
Of course, Dusty didn’t bring about the downfall of apartheid; it would endure for another 25 years or so. But she did make a huge statement and shone a spotlight on its ugliness, creating global awareness where it had not previously existed for many people. She did her small part and those many, many small acts helped undermine support for apartheid over the decades.
It Decidely Must Be Dusty
Dusty starred on television throughout most of the 1960s in a variety of shows, mostly on the BBC: Dusty, It Must Be Dusty, Decidely Dusty, and more. The public couldn’t get enough of her and having regular series gave her the freedom to show her stuff in a wide array of musical genres.
For example, she once sang a duet of Mockingbird with Jimi Hendrix on her show and jazz with Mel Torme.  She was equally at home singing everything from Irish folk songs like My Lagan Love to gospel tunes like Poor Wayfaring Stranger  or pop songs with the Bee Gees.  It was on her own show that she debuted what is undoubtedly the showstopper of her career, the glorious powerhouse You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.
Recording technology wasn’t as advanced as today, so sometimes artists used unconventional techniques to achieve the effect they wanted. Dusty recorded her vocals for the song in a tiled restroom at the Phillips’ studio; the reverb effect was warmer and softer than that which the sound technicians could have added artificially and it was exactly what Dusty desired. 
With the worldwide reach of the BBC — broadcast to the dozens of nations formerly in the British Empire as well as other countries — Dusty was an international superstar. Not only did she sell records by the boatload, people all over the world felt connected to that charming and talented gal that they saw every week in their living rooms.
The 1960s as a period of experimentation and questioning worked for Dusty. It let her try out everything under the sun, musically and — as we will see later — personally:
“... in the Sixties there was a great hope and expectation of things to come and a great sort of, you know, that whole early hippie movement and the Mod movement and all those things were happening during the Sixties and I think people were looking into the future more and thinking that it was going to be great so that made them think the Sixties were actually greater than they were.” 
The second part of this tribute story can be read by clicking here. Note that the sources below are for both parts so not all sources are referenced in this part.
 Dusty Springfield - Sixties Superstar at Youtube
 Interview of Dusty Springfield on City Lights (Canada, 1981) at Youtube
 The secret life of Dusty Springfield by Michele Kort, 1999, at the Advocate, archived at the Free Library
 The Lana Sisters at Chantellemusic
 Interview with four people closest to Dusty, part 2 of 5 at Youtube
 Petula Clark commentary on Dusty Springfield, part 2 at Youtube
 Silver Threads and Golden Needles at Wikipedia
 Tell Him at Wikipedia
 Murray the K's Live Show Talent Roster at the Murray the K Archives
 British Invasion at WIkipedia
 I Only Want To Be With You at Wikipedia
 1964-1988: pop in protest at the Herald (Scotland)
 Dusty Springfield and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, It Must Be Dusty, 1968 at Receiving Broadcasts from the Past
 60s TV Shows at Simon Bell’s Devotedly Dusty
 Interview with four people closest to Dusty, part 4 of 5 at Youtube
 Interview on Good Morning, Britain 1985 (Part II) at Youtube
 DUSTY CHANGES HER NAME TO GLADYS THONG! by Penny Valentine at Disc & Music Echo (1966) via the Web Archive
 Dusty Springfield made a jibe about the Queen... then signed a written apology sent to her by Princess Margaret, it is claimed at Daily Mail UK
 Interview with four people closest to Dusty, part 1 of 5 at Youtube
 Dusty Springfield 'touched something deep inside me' by Anne Murray at the Globe and Mail
 Dusty - Full Circle (BBC documentary interview by Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French. 1994) at Vimeo
 Commentary on Full Circle at Let’s Talk Dusty
 Neil Tennant on Dusty at Youtube
 Dusty Springfield: 60s idol to 90s icon by Libby Brooks at the Guardian
 Dusty Springfield by Frank Tortorici at MTV
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