DNA Magazine - - CONTENT #216 -

WHEN YOUR pop idol dies it kind of crushes your heart. Our idols be­come part of our ev­ery­day lives, we grow up with them, and while we’ve lost a dis­tant celebrity, it can also feel like los­ing a close friend. For me, that spe­cial idol was David Cassidy, un­doubt­edly the poster boy of the 1970s. He died late last year of mul­ti­ple or­gan fail­ure, aged 67, due to longterm drug and al­co­hol abuse.

Cassidy rock­eted to fame thanks to a very G-rated sit­com called The Par­tridge Fam­ily, about a sub­ur­ban fam­ily who were also a tour­ing pop band with ac­tual, real-time top ten hits. Their big­gest, I Think I Love You out­sold The Bea­tles’ Let It Be. Their sound was vi­brant and gay (in the old-fash­ioned way), and the Par­tridge’s tour­ing bus, painted in Mon­drian-style, be­came iconic in its own right.

In the post-hippy/pre-disco/pre-punk era, The Par­tridge Fam­ily was whole­some­ness em­bod­ied. The Cold War, Viet­nam, po­lit­i­cal as­sas­si­na­tions, the en­ergy cri­sis and the civil rights move­ment rarely made it past their white picket fence. It was a time be­fore my young mind had to grap­ple with is­sues like HIV/AIDS, wars on ter­ror, global warm­ing… no, it was all about Archie comics, Pad­dle Pops and the im­mi­nent ar­rival of colour TV! Not be­ing able to stream The Par­tridge Fam­ily at my own leisure made rac­ing home from school to see David Cassidy all the more ex­cit­ing.

David had his com­peti­tors: Leif Gar­rett, Donny Os­mond, Davy Jones of The Mon­kees and his own kid brother, Shaun. But it was David Cassidy who filled con­cert sta­di­ums glob­ally, cre­ated teenage hys­te­ria dubbed “Cas­sidy­ma­nia” and, in some sta­di­ums, caused stam­pedes leav­ing many in­jured and even some fatal­i­ties. Cassidy’s big­gest solo hit, Cher­ish, reached #1 in Aus­tralia.

He was born into an en­ter­tain­ment fam­ily with par­ents Jack Cassidy and Eve­lyn Ward both ac­tors. His step­mother, Shirley Jones played his on-screen

He was blessed with a rockand-roll cock. “Once fa­mous, the only real con­tact I had with hu­mans was women who wanted to have sex with me.”

mother, Shirley Par­tridge. De­spite the rig­ors of fame, he en­joyed him­self along the way. He toured the world, his fan club was big­ger than Elvis’ and The Bea­tles’, and he obliged many groupies in his ho­tel suites. In his 1994 au­to­bi­og­ra­phy he wrote, “It’s bizarre but true that once I be­came re­ally fa­mous, vir­tu­ally the only real con­tact I had with hu­mans was with women who’d want to have sex with me.” By his own ad­mis­sion, he was blessed with a “rock-and-roll cock”, in­spir­ing his broth­ers to nick­name him Donk. Af­ter Ital­ian film star Gina Lol­lo­b­rigida met David at the Aus­tralian Lo­gie Awards, she whisked him away ex­claim­ing, “I want to meet the mon­ster!”

Find­ing such stel­lar fame so early meant the only way was down and his ca­reer dwin­dled to spas­modic ap­pear­ances on TV and stage.

“David Cassidy” be­came a pop cul­ture meme, spring­ing up in jokes on Roseanne, Home Im­prove­ment and Will And Grace. He even found his way into a Tori Amos song. He had a come­back hit in 1985 with The Last Kiss, on which Ge­orge Michael sang back-up vo­cals, and earned crit­i­cal ac­claim along­side brother Shaun in the stage mu­si­cal Blood Broth­ers. His nadir, ar­guably, was ap­pear­ing on Celebrity Ap­pren­tice.

Fame came at a price and he fell into fa­tal sub­stance abuse.

On Cassidy’s death, celebri­ties tweeted con­do­lences. El­ton John said they had many great times to­gether. Boy Ge­orge said, “David Cassidy was the big­gest heart­throb of the ’70s. Every boy wanted to look like him. His voice was like silk.” Most poignant was from his daugh­ter, ac­tress and star of TV’s Ar­row, Katie Cassidy: “My fa­ther’s last words were, ‘So much wasted time’. This will be a daily re­minder for me to share my grat­i­tude with those I love and to never waste another minute.”

For me, who pinned his poster on my bed­room wall, he will al­ways be that first crush, that first re­al­i­sa­tion that there may be more to life than Archie, and that ado­les­cence was upon me.

David Cassidy sang, “C’mon get happy!” Mil­lions of us did. Per­haps his time was not wasted af­ter all.

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