The David Cassidy who, in the early seventies, adorned every teenage girl’s bedroom wall, was on the front of every teen magazine and whose records were constants at the top of the charts, on Radios One and Luxembourg and whose fan club was greater in numbers than that of Elvis or The Beatles – probably put together! I bought every single – that was a 45” vinyl, for anyone not nearing pensionable age – and knew the words, and intonations, of every song. They were great songs and still are. Catchy and melodic, I only need hear the first note and I am transported straight back … whatever happened to my portable red record player?! It was my most prized possession. My mother must have given it away or, worse, thrown it out. How sad. Still, one mustn’t dwell on that one cannot change.
I still have these singles, somewhere, to this day and I still remember every word of every song. David Cassidy could sing and his voice was instantly recognisable; probably still my favourite voice ever and all this from a Donny Osmond fan. How fickle can one be?! Yes, I had a bit of a dilemma back then. One was either a David or a Donny fan and I was in the latter camp … well, yes, Donny was more my type but, then, David Cassidy had that smile, that voice and I loved his records. A tough one. So … my walls and my ceiling were covered in Donny – I, even, had the pillowcase – but I did have one photo of David and one of Bjorn Borg! It was some bedroom but my mother was fine with it; a good excuse not to decorate.
Talking of decorating, I was ‘lucky’ enough to have four cousins, all boys. The youngest was two years older than me and enjoyed nothing more than teasing and tormenting me. No surprise there, then. Living in Glasgow, most summer holidays he would be off-loaded to stay with us country bumpkins for a few weeks and, boy, did I dread it. Armed with a truckload of black felt tip pens, he would take every opportunity to deface my bedroom walls leaving Donny and his brothers with what represented a massive dentist’s bill! Scarred to this day.
The hours spent in said bedroom perfecting my vocals must have paid off as, years later whilst at uni, I was in George Square, minding my own business, when two American students stopped me and asked me where I came from in the States? It is not the only comment I have had, to that effect, and I can only put it down to the time spent singing along to my heart-throbs ensuring that every breath, every intonation matched theirs. Spin the turntable and hear that American twang. You betcha!
One’s life, and its many phases, can be flagged by people as though different coloured post-it notes. David Cassidy is one of mine. He represents such a precious time for me, growing up, and holds a special place in my heart. Sad thing is, nobody tells you that, once over a certain age, it is all about losing these people. That’s life. So, wakening to the news – last Wednesday, I think – that David Cassidy was in hospital with organ failure hit me harder than I would have expected. Or, maybe not. Nostalgia kicked in and I ended up clicking on You Tube and watching old footage of his life and music until the early hours of Thursday morning. Bad idea. He struggled in life. Blessed with good looks and talent, he was deprived of a stable family background. His parents divorced, when he was young, and his father re-married and had three further sons. David craved his father’s love and respect throughout his life but his fame and success only drove them further apart. Jack Cassidy was jealous of his son; he was, also, an alcoholic.
David Cassidy never wanted to be famous. He wanted to be a serious actor but he also loved his music and he could sing. The part of Keith Partridge proved the fork in the road which took him down what, in hindsight, was the wrong path. His life spiralled out of control and he became a prisoner of his own fame. He was lonely, lost and unhappy.
‘See the funny little clown, see the puppet on a string
Wind him up and he will sing; give him candy, he will dance
But be certain not to feel that his funny face is real … ‘
‘I am a Clown’, David Cassidy.
He gave it all up and tried to press the rewind button but without success. He married three times and had two children. He was a hit in Las Vegas and made many comebacks. Immensely talented with a unique voice, it wasn’t enough to combat his demons and his father’s death proved the catalyst for his own alcoholism. The rest is history.
I suppose it is the sadness of his own life whilst, at the same time, being that cherished ‘flag’ in the lives of so many others that heightens the tragedy. Watching those old videos, hearing all those old songs … I will never forget. I woke to see the inevitable text from Manny, this morning. Seems it is always he who is the messenger. Sweet that he knows just exactly who holds a special place in my life.
That night at the Playhouse in the summer of 1985, the excitement was palpable. It was those same teenage girls of yester year filling every row. Married now, and many with children of their own, they were there to turn back time; to remember. Perhaps, too, it was our way of saying ‘thank you’. Suffice to say, David Cassidy was back in the charts with ‘The Last Kiss’. A superb comeback, with the added vocals of George Michael no less, I questioned whether he was now too cool to revisit the old Partridge Family hits. I didn’t have long to worry. The lights dimmed, the curtain went up to the drum intro of ‘The Last Kiss’ and, there, at the top of a staircase was David Cassidy! Suddenly, the drums stopped. Then, at once, that familiar line; that unmistakeable voice … ‘Could it be forever, or is my mind just ramblin’ on?’ Everyone was on their feet as the years melted away. He was here to say ‘thank you’, too. He remembered.
For two hours, he sang every song, every hit and it was magical. To this day, it remains my best concert ever! He was happy to turn back time and acknowledge the past; he wasn’t too cool to be Keith Partridge one more time. I loved him for that.
Still buzzing, we went to the Dragonara for a drink knowing that he was staying there. I remember sitting in the bar and the waiter (a person in uniform who brings one’s drinks to one’s table) asking me what I would do if David Cassidy came in? I replied that I would appreciate some warning as I would need to rush into the ‘Ladies’ and wash my hair – I had gone straight from work (seriously!). Next thing I knew, all eyes were on the door as this big security guy appeared alongside a slight figure in a jumpsuit, large glass of brandy in one hand and a fat cigar in another. It was the one and only and he was heading straight towards us! Not much taller than me with the most piercing eyes, this was my moment … and I blew it! I have met many ‘stars’ in my time, Donny and Ginny amongst them, but never have I been lost for words (ask Donny!) He didn’t stop long, seeking sense in another part of the room, and I realized today – a mere 32 years later – that I didn’t even ask him for an autograph! The memory still makes me smile, though.
Rest in peace, David Cassidy, and thank you for everything. Your songs and your memory will live on.
Could it be forever? I guess so …
This is Trish, signing off.