Posted January, 2010
Photo Courtesy of David Cassidy
If my aging, feeble memory is serving me as I hope, I was introduced to David Cassidy by way of TV. The year was 1970 and it was during my family’s first trip to Tennessee to see family since our move to Arizona. A bunch of family was gathered at my maternal grandparents’ house when my cousins started to excitedly chatter about the Patridge Family about to come on television.
I thought to myself, “What’s this? My cousins would to quit playing so we can watch some dumb documentary about BIRDS???”
I quickly discovered what all the fuss was about. The show was an engaging, fun filled, innocent show about a single mom (the ever gorgeous Shirley Jones) and her singing brood of talented kids. The eldest of these was David Cassidy and, judging by the sighs, giggles, and muffled squeals, it was apparent that he was the biggest star of the show.
Over the next four years, I had to endure the many girls of my various dreams swoon over the image and voice of Cassidy. Yeah, as I’ve already admitted previously, I was mildly jealous of the teen heart throbs of the day and all for legitimate reasons. That said, I quickly outgrew the jealousy, but not the healthy admiration, of Cassidy and his peers.
Many years have passed since those days. However, Cassidy is still wowing girls of all ages by way of concerts, TV appearances, films and Broadway performances. It was because of an upcoming concert with fellow teen idol, Davy Jones, whom I had the privilege of talking with David by phone.
Cassidy projects a warm and gracious presence over the phone. I say this because I knew that he literally walked in to his Florida home from the airport after a long flight from LA. And, yet, he enthusiastically obliged to the interview.
We first chatted about a friend of his (and acquaintance of mine), legendary record producer and former U.S. manager of Apple Records, Ken Mansfield, whom I interviewed in 2009. Ken produced an album for David that, due to corporate thick headedness, never made it to American record stores.
Mansfield said of Cassidy wrote in The White Book, “David and I had spent an intense six months together, and I don’t believe I ever enjoyed my chosen vocation more than I did when I was working with him.”
In chatting about his upcoming Dallas appearance, David relayed his last experience in the DFW Metroplex back in 1995.
“I had such an amazing experience there. I’ve done a couple of concerts there but I also did a Broadway show, Blood Brothers, with my brother, Shaun, in Dallas in ’95, I think it was. The audiences were amazing and my fans have been fantastic.
“Because it’s been so long since I’ve done a concert there, I’m going to do, basically, a whole – I’m going to do a lot of hits - both Partridge Family and myself. I’ve gone back and dug out the really great songs from the 70’s. I’ll take people through a musical journey of my life.”
At this point in our conversation, Cassidy takes a surprising and entertaining turn down memory lane.
“When I was thirteen, the Beatles broke. I got to know all of them. I got to know John very, very well. I played with him a couple of times. He came over to my house and we played some great Beatles songs. He had forgotten them – the early stuff which I had really remembered. I’m talking about Meet the Beatles and The Beatles Second Album.
“You know, when you’re thirteen and I saw them on the Ed Sullivan Show, like a million other guys, I went out and bought an electric guitar – like the next DAY! I started playing in bands and garage bands through junior high and high school. It was such an amazing, musical time.
“I also played with Paul once. They were doing their final dress rehearsal for their Wings Over America tour (spanning 1975 and 1976). They did it for me and my guitar player. They were in Paris at the time, rehearsing and I got to hang out and play a bit.
“But I got to know John really well. I really think his spirit and his impact on the planet was so great. I truly believe that he had more to do with changing the world and was willing to die for what he believed in. He was just lambasted by the media and the press when they did the Bed-In; Nixon wanted to deport him. But he was such incredibly inspirational guy – hysterically funny and amazingly bright. They (The Beatles) all did – but he had such an incredible impact on me.”
Later in our conversation, I brought the subject of Lennon back up. I asked him what his reaction was and what went through his mind and emotions when John was killed. I could tell that Cassidy genuinely felt angst and pain as he recalled that horrible night in December, 1980.
“I got on an airplane and flew back to New York for reasons that are personal. I didn’t want his funeral to be a circus. I spent some time with Yoko at their apartment with a mutual friend of ours. I spent a couple of days there. It was, for me, a very personal thing. I actually never talked about it because I talk about him and his life as opposed to the tragedy.
“But I miss his voice. And I mean his voice, now more than ever, his belief in ‘All you need is love. Love is all you need and all we’re saying is give peace a chance.’” Trying to choke back tears, David continues, “And his commitment to that was a real and genuine as anyone as I had ever known. I think he had a lot to do with changing the world and its perception. He was a tremendous spirit.”
However, well before the emotional remembrance of his late friend, he excitedly shared his musical influences and memories, he lists a “who’s who” of rock royalty.
“I saw Hendrix when I was a kid FOUR times. I saw Clapton and Cream. I think it was the last show they did. The live version of Crossroads – I think I was there for that legendary, incredible performance of Crossroads. I saw THAT SHOW. They did two nights. I believe that was the last show they ever did until a couple of years ago when they got back together and played Royal Albert Hall. That’s gotta be, shew, forty years ago!”
As if to snap back from memory lane, David seamlessly brings the conversation back to his upcoming Dallas appearance.
“I might take people back to when John and I first got together and played. Anyway, I might take them all through that and up through my last platinum album. I’ll do a couple of my remixes from two years ago which I premiered on Oprah. It was February two years ago and my album went to number one on Amazon the next day. The impact of Oprah is quite remarkable.
“I just came off of doing a television series with my brothers, Ruby and the Rockets. I cut down a lot of the dates because of my work back in television and I’ve moved back out to L.A. I’m going to start doing a feature film – really a great script. I’ve only done three features in my life – I’m talking about theatrical releases. So, we shall see how it goes. It’s the first show of the year for me and I’m very excited to do it.
“I did a show last year with Davy Jones, which was really successful. He’s going to open for me and do the first half. God knows, he really surprised me. We forget that the Monkees had an awful lot of hits. His shows are REALLY good. I think a lot of the audience – they were from the 60’s and mine are from the 70’s. I think the audience will be filled with a night of incredible high energy.
“I’m chomping at the bit to get back and do it. With all of the work and being in Los Angeles, I haven’t performed, I think, since the first weekend in December so it’s been a while. I’ve got a lot of different sets that I do. Every show I do different. I don’t have any set pattern. Who knows? I may do a little bit of blues since I’ll be in Texas. I’ll do some acoustic stuff.
I’ve learned from Cassidy and others that he is quite the equestrian. I got the impression from him that, aside from his career and his family, that horses are the next thing nearest and dearest to his heart.
“Oh yeah! I raise and breed thoroughbred race horses. I’ve been doing that for over thirty years. I race in New York. I’ve got one in Louisiana at the fairgrounds that actually is going to start tomorrow. He’s going to make his first start.
“But I’ve been breading and racing almost exclusively for the last ten years in New York. I’ve been the leading breeder by percentage of stakes winners and average earnings although I don’t have anywhere near the kind of earning that some of the big farms do. I have a small breeding operation with six or seven mares. It’s been a real passion of mine, too.”
Ever the gentleman, David Cassidy brings the conversation back around his appreciation for Dallas. He starts off by saying, “I am genuinely, genuinely excited about going back to Dallas.” Then, switching gears, he tells a story about one of his last visits to the Metroplex.
“I had come from Detroit. It was, like, 37 degrees and freezing in Detroit. I got there (to Dallas) and it’s, like, 89! And this beautiful, BEAUTIFUL girl, who was working for the promoter and producer, greeted me. She said (and he puts on his best genuinely Southern, make that, Dallas, accent), “Hi, David! Welcome to Dallas!” It was 89 degrees and we’ve got gloves on. It was night and day! So, I have great memories of Dallas.
“I’ve played the Houston Astrodome. I played a big Reunion Arena there in Dallas. I’ve heard fantastic things about the Nokia Theater so I’m looking forward to playing there. We’re going to try to blow the roof off of that place when we come down.”
THEN, he dropped this little teaser that I don’t think anyone has heard yet.
“My brother, Shaun, actually may come. I don’t know for sure.”
You heard it here first, Dallasites. If you were contemplating buying tickets for the Cassidy/Jones show, there MIGHT be an extra added bonus. I dunno. I’m just saying.
With our conversation about to wrap up, I asked Cassidy if there was anything unique or special that was going to be offered at the souvenir tables in the lobby. His answer floored me.
“I think the experience itself – for me – it’s a celebration.” Clearly, for Cassidy, it’s about the fans and the memories. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
To relive your teenage thrills, catch David Cassidy in concert at a venue near you. His tour schedule is available at www.davidcassidy.com.