Tom Springfield

Tom Springfield (born Dionysius P. A. O'Brien,[1] 2 July 1934,[2] and known when young as Dion O'Brien) is an English musician and songwriter from the 1960s folk and pop music scene. He is the brother of pop star Dusty Springfield, with whom he performed in The Springfields.

Tom Springfield
Birth nameDionysius P. A. O'Brien
Born (1934-07-02) 2 July 1934 (age 88)
Hampstead, London, England
GenresFolk, pop
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, record producer
Instrument(s)Vocals, piano, guitar
Years active1960s–1970

Early lifeEdit

Springfield was born in Hampstead, London,[2] and attended the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe from 1944 to 1950.[3]

National ServiceEdit

Springfield (O'Brien) joined the army for his National Service (1952-54), and was assigned to the Joint Services School for Linguists in Coulsdon, Surrey. The school was known as “the Russian course”,[4] and its purpose was to train conscripts in intelligence techniques. The course provided exposure to the Russian language by studying Russian literature, films, and also songs. These were taken from a selection known as the "Samovar Song Book", which Springfield and the rest of the "Coulsdon choir" sang together (in Russian).[5] One of these songs was a folksong from 1883 called Stenka Razin, and twelve years later Springfield used its melody as the basis of his hit song The Carnival is Over. Springfield was a talented pianist, and occasionally played jazz in the NAAFI with Tony Cash (BBC producer of Whose Doctor Who etc) on clarinet, and Malcolm Brown on guitar.[6]

After Coulsdon, Springfield was assigned to the Intelligence Corps depot in Maresfield, Sussex (1954).[7] While there he joined up with two other musicians to form a guitar trio playing Latin American songs, with Tom singing in Spanish and Portuguese. They recorded two songs at a small studio in Brighton: one was El Cangaceiro (The Bandit - from the Brazilian movie O Cangaceiro 1953)) and the other was written by Tom and called Magdelena.[7]

Springfield was a founder member of vocal group "The Pedini Brothers", active from 1952-1955. They mainly sang Latin American, plus Russian songs adapted by Tom from his course material. Colleague Nick Bowyer writes: "Tom was extremely proficient on both piano and guitar, and played both by ear. [He] also played ragtime piano solos on gigs. We were together from 1952 until 1955, but somewhat spasmodically because of National Service."[7]


He formed a vocal trio, The Springfields in 1960, with his sister, Mary, by then known as Dusty Springfield, and a friend, Tim Feild.[7] Five of the group's 1961-63 singles were UK Top 40 hits, and two of them reached no. 5 in the charts. These were "Island of Dreams", written and composed by Tom, and "Say I Won't Be There", the melody of which was adapted by Tom from the traditional French song Au clair de la lune to accompany his new lyrics.[8] The group was also successful in the US, particularly with their cover version of "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" which reached no. 20 on Billboard's Hot 100.[9] This was the first single by a British group to reach the top 20 of the Hot 100.[10]

Dusty's desire to pursue a solo career caused The Springfields to break up in 1963, and Tom became a record producer and songwriter for the Australian folk-pop group The Seekers. He wrote many of their major hits, including their first UK number one "I'll Never Find Another You",[11] followed by "A World of Our Own",[12] and the million-selling "The Carnival Is Over" (the melody was based on a Russian folk song, which Tom Springfield adapted and wrote new lyrics for)[6] Other hits included Walk With Me,[13] and "Georgy Girl",[14] co-written with Jim Dale, who supplied the lyrics. This was The Seekers' most successful release in the US, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song of 1966, and for the equivalent Golden Globe Award the same year.[15]

Apart from his work with The Seekers, he co-wrote (with Clive Westlake) Frank Ifield's 1964 hit "Summer Is Over" and his sister Dusty's 1964 hit "Losing You". Other hit compositions include "Adios Amour (Goodbye My Love)", which was recorded by José Feliciano and The Casuals,[16] and "Just Loving You", which became a 1967 top ten hit for Anita Harris. Additionally he composed the theme to the popular BBC TV series The Troubleshooters.

The Springfields' song "Island of Dreams", written by Tom Springfield, has been covered by Mick Thomas, Johnny Tillotson,[17] Mary Hopkin,[18] Geraint Watkins with Martin Belmont, and by the Seekers.[19]

He released two solo albums in the late 1960s, Sun Songs (1968)[20] and Love's Philosophy (1969); these were re-released on CD in 2005.[2]


After a 1970 duet single with his sister Dusty, "Morning Please Don't Come", Springfield essentially retired from the music industry as both a writer and performer. He lived in the United States for a period and currently resides in London.[citation needed]

Awards and nominationsEdit


  • 1964 – ASCAP award for "I'll Never Find Another You"
  • 1965 – ASCAP award for "A World of Our Own"



  1. ^ England & Wales, Birth Index
  2. ^ a b c "Tom Springfield – Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. 2 July 1934. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  3. ^ "High Wycombe Royal Grammar School – 1956 School Photo website by Tony Hare". Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  4. ^ Melvyn Bragg. "Tony Cash obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  5. ^ "Tom Springfield's Cossack connection FT 14 June 2013". Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  6. ^ a b Tony Cash, Mike Gerrard (2012). The Coder Special Archive. Hodgson Press. p. 84. ISBN 9781906164256.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b c d "Tom Springfield". Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Say I Won't Be There (Au clair de la lune) at Discogs". Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 592.
  10. ^ Napier-Bell, Simon (2002). Black Vinyl White Powder. Ebury Press. p. 65.
  11. ^ Rice, Jo & Tim (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 89. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  12. ^ "Seekers, The – A World of Our Own (Vinyl) at Discogs". Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Seekers, The – Walk With Me (Vinyl) at Discogs". Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  14. ^ "Seekers, The – Georgy Girl / The Last Thing on My Mind (Vinyl) at Discogs". Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Georgy Girl awards 1966". IMDb. Retrieved 16 May 2022.
  16. ^ "Casuals, The – The Very Best Of (CD) at Discogs". Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  17. ^ "Island of Dreams – Johnny Tillotson : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  18. ^ "Island of Dreams – Mary Hopkin : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. 29 August 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  19. ^ "Island of Dreams – The Seekers : Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  20. ^ "Sun Songs – Tom Springfield". Retrieved 6 January 2013.

External linksEdit