Iconic Teen Idol David Cassidy Dies at 67

David Cassidy was the first superstar teen idol, but always wanted to play guitar like Jimi Hendrix.

David Cassidy, who went from an actor playing a teen singer in a TV series to selling out rock stadiums as a singing guitarist died Tuesday, October 21, 2017, in a Florida hospital. He was 67.

“On behalf of the entire Cassidy family, it is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our father, our uncle, and our dear brother, David Cassidy,” his publicist JoAnn Geffen announced on behalf of Cassidy’s family. “David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long. Thank you for the abundance and support you have shown him these many years.”

Cassidy was hospitalized in critical condition after suffering from liver and kidney failure. On Feb 20, the singer revealed he was battling the early stages of dementia, after he was caught on video forgetting lyrics during a California concert. The former Keith Partridge was also suffering from arthritis, forcing him to struggle to play guitar.

David Cassidy was the first superstar teen idol. Ricky Nelson got to bring his band into the living rooms of 50s America every week, but he was relegated to rock and roll revue shows when he toured. Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell and Fabian didn’t wet bandstand seats. Bobby Sherman looked like he could have a teenaged kid. And the Beatles were packaged as the first boy band. Cassidy’s stadium tours sold out before they were even announced and he had more members in his fan club than the Beatles’ and Elvis Presley’s combined. John Lennon admitted, during his “lost weekend,” that he envied Cassidy’s success.

Ad – content continues below

David Cassidy was the world’s highest paid solo-live performer by age 21. He was also one of the original Hollywood Vampires, along with John Lennon, Harry Nilsson, and Alice Cooper. He first found fame, and his voice, as Keith Partridge in the iconic seventies sitcom The Partridge Family. He played the eldest of five children of a widowed mother, who was played by Shirley Jones, Cassidy’s real-life stepmother, who headed a band with his family. Cassidy, who played guitar, even taught Danny Bonaduce to mime plucking the bass strings, rather than strumming them. The show’s ensemble was based on the real-life family band The Cowsills. The show was cancelled after four seasons and Cassidy launched his own pop music career becoming one of pop music’s most celebrated teen idols. Cassidy’s hits include “I Think I Love You,” “How Can I Be Sure,” and “Lyin’ to Myself.”

Cassidy played an aging former teen heartthrob in the 2009 ABC Family sitcom Ruby & the Rockits. The show was canceled after one season. He also guest starred as an aging former teen heartthrob on the TV sitcom Malcolm in the Middle.

Cassidy was born into an acting family. His mother was Evelyn Ward and father was Jack Cassidy. Cassidy made his professional debut in the Broadway musical The Fig Leaves Are Falling on January 2, 1969. He moved to Los Angeles later that year and signed with Universal Studios. He was featured on such shows as Ironside, Marcus Welby, M.D., Adam-12 and Bonanza.

Hired as an actor for The Partridge Family in 1970 at the age of 19, Cassidy mentioned to the show’s music producer Wes Farrell that he was a singer who’d played in bands as a younger teen. He was given the chance to sing lead on the series’ recordings.

The first single, “I Think I Love You,” was a hit, and the Partridge Family joined the Monkees as TV-radio crossovers. Cassidy’s solo single from the same year, “Cherish,” was also a top 10 hit. These were followed by “Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted,” ”I Woke Up In Love This Morning,” ”Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” ”Could It Be Forever,” and a cover of the Rascals’ ”How Can I Be Sure.”

Cassidy started touring. His didn’t stop, not even when the series shot, and he would jet off for shows on the weekends. The Partridge Family put out ten albums and Cassidy released five solo albums during the series. They all sold millions of copies. He sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City in one day and there was a riot after the show. But the singer bristled at being relegated to bubblegum pop.

In 1972, Cassidy admitted taking drugs in a Rolling Stone in 1972. He posed nude for the cover. He went on to record the best selling albuns Rock Me Baby, Lyin’ to Myself. Cassidy’s 1990 single “Lyin’ to Myself” was a top 40 hit. His 2004 album Then and Now went platinum.

Ad – content continues below

As a stage actor, Cassidy toured in the 1981 revival of George M. Cohan’s play Little Johnny Jones. Cassidy was nominated for a Best Dramatic Actor Emmy for his role as a undercover cop on the Police Story telefilm “A Chance to Live.” He starred in the original Broadway production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, replacing Bill Hutton, who originated the role of Joseph in 1983.  He starred with Laurence Olivier in London’s West End production of the play Time. In 1994, he starred with his brother Shaun and singer Petula Clark in the play Blood Brothers.

Cassidy moved to Las Vegas in 1996 to star at the MGM Grand in EFX, which became the most successful production on the strip. He returned in 1999 to guest star as Bobby Darin in The Rat Pack Is Back! In 2000, he wrote and appeared in At the Copa with Sheena Easton.

In 2005, Cassidy played in the film Popstar. He co-wrote the song “Prayin’ 4 a Miracle” with John Wetton and Sue Shifrin, which was released on the band Asia’s album Then & Now in 1990.

David is survived by his son Beau and his daughter Katie Cassidy.