David Cassidy has died at the age of 67. He had suffered from dementia, and more recently, kidney and liver failure.
For the past several decades, it has been totally uncool for a man to say this. But I should have said it a long time ago. I’m a David Cassidy fan. When my sons were little, I would play hits of the 1960s and 1970s, and they loved them. Many of those songs still have a “cool” factor today.
But the Partridge Family: not so much. On the rare occasions when a Partridge Family song is played on the radio (and it is almost always their first hit record, “I Think I Love You”), we roll up the windows and sing along, lest someone think we might actually LIKE it.
Well, no more. My windows are down.
I’m belatedly coming out as a David Cassidy fan. His records are pretty darn good. My cranky, aging ears like ’em about as much as I did when I was 12.
I grew up on top-40 radio. The era of three-minute hits with a solid intro, a couple of verses, a strong chorus, and hooks galore. The songs that we cheerfully call earworms. You can’t get ’em out of your head. Singles. 45’s.
For those who don’t know, the Partridge Family was a fictional depiction of the Cowsills, an actual singing, playing family of the late 1960s. The Cowsills scored a few hits, and somebody thought their story would make a fun weekly sitcom. Unfortunately, the Cowsills were not actors.
Since the Monkees had been successfully created for TV a few years earlier, some TV producers decided they would do the same. They concocted a single mom and five talented kids, groovin’ through the USA in their multi-colored bus. While hiring actors, they found Shirley Jones, who was a triple threat: she was beautiful, she could act, and she could sing. Her step-son David Cassidy, then 19, was perfect for the lead role of Keith Partridge, the band’s singer. The show’s producers believed he had “teen idol” looks, and expected him to lip-sync the words sung by actual singers. Much to everyone’s surprise, the kid could sing.
For the next four years, he cranked out several hits, with the help of studio musicians. The records said “The Partridge Family” on the label, but Cassidy was really the only “Family” member you could hear. So, in essence, those were solo hits by Cassidy and bunch of unknown players, with his step-mom occasionally in the background somewhere.
As the show ran out of gas, he scored a few true solo hits with his name on the label. Soon, as bubblegum music gave way to disco, hard rock, and heavy metal, Cassidy and the Partridge Family became instant nostalgia.
I will always believe “I Think I Love You” is a top-40 masterpiece. Yes, I know all the words, and am not ashamed to embarrass my family by belting it out on occasion. “I Woke Up In Love This Morning” is also a great piece of pop music, and even a lesser Partridge record, “It’s One of Those Nights” is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a catchy, hook-filled, well-produced song, and I’m not ashamed to say it.
His solo hits were no different than his Partridge efforts, but at least he got full credit, no longer having to pretend that Susan Dey and Danny Bonaduce were singing backup. He re-made a couple of 60s hits, “How Can I Be Sure” and “Cherish.” Frankly, he did a good job on both, and they went top 10. But like all the others, radio has pretty much ignored them for decades.
David Cassidy songs make me smile, they bring back memories of a special place and time, and they make me feel young. I hope he knew that he made a lot of people very happy.
Here are a few of my favorite Cassidy songs, plus a 1976 hit that sounded like him…but it was by a popular, very hip group. If Cassidy’s name had been on the label, radio stations would have never played it. See if you agree. It’s the last video below.