Is there a woman of a certain age who didn’t have a crush on wistful, dreamy David Cassidy? Is there a man of a certain age who as a young teen didn’t want to look, sound and dress like David Cassidy, sporting a shag haircut and wearing pukka shells?
When it comes to throngs of screaming adoring teenyboppers, Justin Bieber doesn’t come close to the draw of David Cassidy.
If you were of a certain age in the early 1970’s Friday nights on ABC was must see TV.
The unbeatable line up began at 8:00 with the Brady Bunch ended at 11:00 with Love American Style and was anchored by The Partridge Family. Like a religious cult, teens from coast to coast planted themselves in front of their RCA TV’s, never once daring to turn their dial from that one channel. I know I never budged. It was as close to binge watching as we could get at that time.
In the midst of the of the Vietnam War, civil unrest and general sturm und drang that was the troubled 1970s’, The Partridge Family beckoned us to “C’mon Get Happy.” That sugar-plum series about a family of singers all sporting matching vests and shoulder length hair was breezy, bubble gum and irresistible.
And it introduced us to Keith Partridge a.k.a David Cassidy.
I Woke Up In Love This Morning
The teen heart-throb eased a generation of girls into the world of rock and roll, sweetly, slowly and gently.
His was not hard rock. His music was pure pop pastries, sweet, gooey, cloying even. He was safe, no sneering, lustful dangerous Mick Jagger he, his was pure sweet, romance. David suggested to a young girl that male sexuality wasn’t so threatening. After all, he only wanted to love you, he said with a sweet smile. He talked about huggin’ and kissin’ and feeling our heartbeat.
David was a dreamy daydreamer.
He notched his first hit when “I Think I Love You” the debut song released by the made for TV musical family and reached number one on the Billboard hot 100 in 1970, followed by hit after hit. Soon the teen pop star began performing to sold out concerts.
And onstage he was was as irresistible as he was on TV.
Attendance at a David Cassidy concert is an exercise in incredulity,” Life magazine reported in 1971 in an issue featuring him on the cover.
“Hordes of girls, average age 11 and a half, with hearts seemingly placed inside their vocal cords, shout themselves into frenzy. . . . After, being unable to rip off a piece of David’s clothing or a hunk of his hair or a limb of his body, they rush out to buy David Cassidy records or posters or send away for mysterious items like the ‘David Cassidy Lover’s Kit’ — a souvenir that included a purported childhood photo album of Mr. Cassidy.
By 1971 David was the reigning favorite of the fickle pubescent girl. Girls who only recently had had crushes on Bobby Sherman, now walked the halls of their Jr. High Schools carrying notebooks festooned with David Cassidy Super Luv Stickers. In an age before social media, the David Cassidy Fan Clubs sprouted up all across the country and had 100,000 members at $2.25 a head.
Cassidy was soon the cover boy of all the Teen Magazines. Only the year before Davy Jones and Bobby Sherman had monopolized the covers, but gradually David’s pictures got bigger and poor Bobby’s smaller. By the time “I Think I Love You” came out,” he monopolized the cover.
It’s hard to imagine the pull these magazines held over teen girls.
The magazines had names such as Tiger Beat, Spec, Fave, Flip, and Teen Pin Ups. They were formulaic and would grind out constant variations on the same theme; “The Real David Cassidy,” “David Cassidy Star: Is the Price Too High,” “David Cassidy: Why He Almost Became a Dropout From Life,” “Living with David- His Roommate’s Personal Story,” “David’s Six Special Loves.”
They made us feel we knew him, obtainable even.
Magazines happily filled us in to his personal life as they filled their coffers with all the money we shelled out on these rags. A great portion of my meager allowance and baby sitter money was spent on these tell-all magazines, and I gorged on each issue for ever more exclusive details and personal pictures.
We knew he lived in a rambling, multi leveled house in the Hollywood Hills with colorful sometimes campy décor, an upright piano, a sunken bathtub and a tiny swimming pool that he shared with a good friend from junior high school and 2 mongrel dogs named “Sheesh and “Sam.”
If you were a diehard fan you also were privy to the fact that David formerly lived in an old house in rustic Laurel Canyon which he described as “early orange crate.” But “word of its location got out to the teen age underground,” Teen Beat informed us, “and he found groups of little visitors waiting on his doorsteps when he got home and a steady stream of girls ringing his bell on weekends.” When he moved he rented a truck and he and friends loaded it and drove to the new place in the dead of night to the new place.
Cassidy was presented as a regular guy: “We can’t conceive the idea of the teen age idol,” says David’s friend Sam in an interview in Teen Beat. “David’s not ego tripping. He doesn’t go for fads or do something just because it’s popular. Nowadays it’s a ‘thing’ to be active and involved and that may be why he isn’t.”
No, our David was clean wholesome, not like the hippies protesting on the nightly news, or the drug addled rock stars that were tripping and dying.
“When I was going to college people thought protesting was the groovy thing to do,” says David Cassidy. “I thought, I’m going to school and I just went.”
He took a daring detour from his wholesomeness in 1972 when he appeared semi-nude on the cover of Rolling Stone in a photo by Annie Leibovitz. Candidly, he spoke about his use of “grass and speed and psychedelics” in the article.
Scandalous maybe, but if it made our hearts beat a bit faster, he still remained forever sweet David.
Could It Be Forever
“You think you love me” he asked us in song.
“I think I love you,” we would sing back. echoing his words.
And we still do.
R.I.P, dear David.