David Cassidy, I think I love you
Dressed in tight-fitting, 1970s-era polyester bell-bottoms, a suede jacket and with his shoulder-length, feathered hair, Cassidy sang his way into the hearts of young girls everywhere, giving us someone to fantasize about other than geeky middle-school boys with bad skin and braces who laughed at potty jokes.
Cassidy shot to fame as the oldest son of Shirley Jones, his real stepmother, in the ABC musical sitcom “The Partridge Family.”
Based loosely on the musical family The Cowsills, “The Partridge Family” featured a widow and her five children who buy and refurbish a school bus for traveling to musical gigs. It ran from 1970 until 1974, by which time my attention had turned to real-life boys.
Cassidy and Jones were the real talents on the show, which also featured child actors pretending to play musical instruments and lip syncing to the lyrics. Every show featured a performance by The Partridge Family band, and sitcom hijinks filled the remaining time.
The show probably doesn’t stand the test of time, but it was comfort food dished out during an era when things weren’t too comfortable for a lot of folks, and real rock ’n’ roll musicians threatened the status quo (and our parents) with their open drug use, sexual liaisons and wild lifestyles.
Cassidy died last week at the age of 67. He had battled alcoholism and drug addiction following his teen idol years, and a few years ago announced that he was suffering from dementia, something both his mother and grandfather had.
I lost interest in Cassidy as I grew older, but upon his death I have researched and discovered that his career was much richer than just his four-year stint as Keith Partridge, and included an Emmy Award nomination for a guest spot on a 1978 episode of “Police Story.”
Surrounded by mass hysteria constantly around him, and coupled with a desire to be taken seriously as a musician and dump his teen idol image, Cassidy posed nude on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1972 in an article that describes Cassidy as “riding around New York in the back of a car stoned and drunk.”
His biggest pop hit, “I Think I Love You,” led to a career as a solo artist, with arena concerts around the world. Mass hysteria surrounding his tours took its toll on Cassidy, who once said “I’m exploited by people who put me on the back of cereal boxes. I asked my housekeeper to go and buy a certain kind of cereal and when she came home, there was a huge picture of me on the back. I can’t even eat breakfast without seeing my face.”
His recording career was more successful internationally than at home, where he was unable to escape his teen idol status and to be taken seriously as a musician.
He released three successful solo albums in Europe, and in 1985, he released “The Last Kiss” with George Michael, which went gold in Europe and Australia. Also, in 1989 he co-wrote the song “Prayin’ 4 a Miracle,” which was included in the band Asia’s album Then & Now.
In describing teen idols from Frank Sinatra to Justin Bieber, www.history-of-rock.com writes, “To many avid rock historians, the teen idols — who were firmly entrenched on the top of the charts between the death of Buddy Holly and the rise of the Beatles — represent the greatest threat to rock’s survival that the music ever weathered. Wimpy, overwhelmingly bland and safe, their connection to rock ’n’ roll was often tenuous, and their commercial ascendancy has even been discussed as a conspiracy by the music business and sundry other moral authorities to rob rock ’n’ roll of its vitality.
“In retrospect, that seems fairly unlikely, though there’s no doubt that the more conservative elements of the entertainment industry and the status quo as a whole felt more comfortable with these performers.”
Cassidy fought against his teen idol status, often unsuccessfully, but in his later years grew comfortable with the few, fleeting years of fame that it brought him.
“When you go through hell, your own personal hell, and you have lost – loss of fame, loss of money, loss of career, loss of family, loss of love, loss of your own identity that I experienced in my own life – and you’ve been able to face the demons that have haunted you… I appreciate everything that I have,” he said.
Take a trip down memory lane with reruns of “The Partridge Family” on Amazon Prime.
Susan Campbell may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.