David Bruce Cassidy (April 12, 1950 – November 21, 2017) was an American actor, singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He was known for his role as Keith Partridge, the son of Shirley Partridge (played by his stepmother Shirley Jones), in the 1970s musical-sitcom The Partridge Family, which led to his becoming one of popular culture’s teen idols and pop singers of the 1970s. He later had a career in both acting and music.
The son of parents who performed on Broadway, Cassidy started out as an actor in his late-teens. After appearing in a short-lived Broadway show, the 19-year-old Cassidy moved to Los Angeles where, after guest spots on shows like Bonanza and Adam-12, he was cast as Keith Partridge, lead singer and guitarist of the fictional family band at the center of the musical sitcom The Partridge Family. The show arrived just as The Monkees, a program that used a similar blueprint, was petering out. Cassidy’s real-life stepmother Shirley Jones played the Partridges’ matriarch.
Over the course of four seasons and 96 episodes, The Partridge Family became a hit both on television and in music, where their song “I Think I Love You” became a Number One hit. The fictional Partridge Family band was even nominated for Best New Artist at the 1971 Grammys. Thanks to the show and band’s success, Cassidy quickly ascended to teen idol status: According to Cassidy’s website, at the height of his fame, the David Cassidy Fan Club had more members than the Beatles Fan Club and Elvis Presley Fan Club combined.
Cassidy’s debut solo album Cherish, released in 1972 amid Partridge mania, was similarly successfully. However, following the cancelation of the series in 1974, Cassidy struggled to reach the same heights as his early Seventies fame. By 1978, Cassidy returned to television for the detective series Man Undercover, which ran for 10 episodes before it was canceled.
While the spotlight on Cassidy dimmed after The Partridge Family, the singer remained a fixture in the music world, recording with artists like the Beach Boys. Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston appear on Cassidy’s 1976 LP Home Is Where the Heart Is, while Brian Wilson co-wrote “Cruise to Harlem” with Cassidy.
In 1985, George Michael, who cited Cassidy among his chief influences – Cassidy’s “Daydreamer” was a Number One hit in the United Kingdom in 1973 after failing to chart stateside – collaborated with Cassidy on the single “The Last Kiss,” with the Wham! singer providing backup vocals on the song off Cassidy’s 1985 comeback LP Romance.
Cassidy’s late career was often marred by tabloid headlines and mug shots as the singer was arrested on three separate DUI charges as well as a “leaving the scene of the accident” charge. Cassidy also fought a well-publicized battle with drugs and alcohol over his career. Despite the legal troubles, Cassidy continued to record music, act and tour to his legion of fans up until his dementia diagnosis. He was recently admitted into a Florida hospital in critical condition where he died from liver and kidney failure.