With her backcombed blonde hair and generous applications of panda-eyed mascara, it was easy in the froth and bubble of the swinging sixties to regard Dusty Springfield as just another of the crop of British female pop stars famous enough to be known by their first names. There was Cilla singing Anyone Who Had A Heart, barefoot Sandie with Puppet On A String and Lulu winning Eurovision with the execrable Boom-Bang-ABang. Like Dusty, they all had a string of sixties hits, which earned each of them their own light entertainment TV series. Yet if you had ears to listen, the timeless quality and simmering passion of Springfield’s voluptuous voice could not have made her more different from her peers.
If she was under-appreciated in her lifetime, her death from breast cancer in 1999 prompted a timely reassessment that has since elevated her to an exalted position in the pop pantheon where she now reigns supreme as the undisputed queen of British female vocalists.
Over the years, death has often given a temporary boost to an artist’s popularity for reasons of sentimentality or pure morbid fascination. But in Springfield’s case, something more profound and long-lasting has taken place. Two weeks after her death, Elton John inducted her into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “I’m biased, but I just think she was the greatest white singer there ever has been,” he said. “Every song she sang, she claimed a