Tuesday, November 21, 2017

RIP David Cassidy

"I Think I Love You" /
The Partridge Family


I have been dreading this coming. Yeah, I weathered the early deaths -- Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Mama Cass, Keith Moon -- with a mantra of Too Young, Too Soon. Then came John Lennon's death -- torn from us by gun violence! I can only wish I was in the UK to attend Dusty Springfield's funeral. And then there's my belated grief at the cruel loss of Harry Nilsson, dying earlier than he should've (and never acknowledged as the genius he was). Ditto for Kirsty McColl.

But now here we are at the crossroads. I'm ruefully prepared (with mourning gowns and all) to be devastated when 60s icons like Paul McCartney or Ray Davies give up the ghost. I nervously expect we've got a few safe years for my 70s go-to guys Graham Parker, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, and Nick Lowe.

But David Cassidy? David F***KING Cassidy? He was only 67, ferchrissake. Taken down by dementia, arthritis, and a long history of substance abuse. At the height of his pop stardom in 1974, a teenage fan even died amid the frenzy at one of his concerts. He may have been a manufactured pop star, but the charisma  -- as this fangirl can attest -- was very very real.

In my personal fangirl history, David Cassidy has a whole chapter to himself. In 1970 -- just before The Partridge Family launched -- he riveted me with a guest spot on Bonanza, America's favorite TV series at the time. He was so cute, for once I paid no attention to Little Joe. When 16 Magazine --or was it Tiger Beat? -- announced that he was about to star in his own show, I was so primed for it. And when the Partridge Family finally debuted, it was so much more endearing than even I could have expected. For a few months there -- okay, maybe a year -- he occupied my every waking day and night.  And let's be honest, ladies -- do we not cherish forever the objects of our pop obsessions?

I prefer to see David Cassidy as one of pop music's tragedies. Coming from a showbiz family (dad Jack Cassidy, stepmom Shirley Jones, his Partridge Family mom) he had all the lucky breaks. His slim talent vaulted him into this stratosphere where only the strong survive. And perhaps he was never strong enough.

But on the other hand -- God, he was cute. That sparkle in his eyes, that suggestion of a dimple in his smile. The glossy flop of brown hair. Nobody could rock hip-hugger bellbottoms like that young man.

Like so many girls of my time, I fell for it.

And hearing that he is no longer with us? I am, against all reason, peculiarly devastated.