Fan dedication and fund raising made the honor possible and some long overdue respect given to a man who was a star to the end…
Its funny, living in Las Vegas. Allegedly we have everything and then some, including some of the finest entertainment and for the most part, you would be correct in those assumptions. Some entertainers who have rolled thru this once quiet little diamond in the dust have left a mark that can’t be denied. Among those names, names like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jerry Lewis, Sam Butera, Wayne Newton, Shecky Green, Shirley McClaine, Tom Jones, is none other than a man who most of us women who are late 50’s and early 60’s in age often call our first real crush, the man we judged all men to come by- he was handsome, with beautifully feathered hair and a voice that was as bright as the sun… ok by the time he was on the strip maybe not the feathered hair but he was still David Cassidy….
David Cassidy? Yup, you read that right! When people talk of the show EFX that ran for many years at the MGM, they don’t seem to talk about Michael Crawford, Tommy Tune or even Rick Springfield ( David took over from Michael and Tommy and Rick followed after David)- if they do it is only briefly. The one name synonymous with the show is, none other than, David Cassidy. You can’t have the Partridge Family without him and ya can’t have EFX without him either! But let’s back up a bit- like way back… 1970 to be exact.
Back in 1970, my idea of music ( and probably most kids my age) was basically what was being played on WLS-AM “The Big 89” out of Chicago, The Beatles Sgt Pepper and The Monkees Pisces Aquarius Capricorn and Jones were the first albums I ever owned, gifted to me for my birthday along with a record player the year before… Friday nights consisted of family dinner at 5, my parents watched the news while we played outside and ran off our dinner, and then we got some tv time before Sammy Terry came on WTTV channel 4 out of Indianapolis for an evening of B horror films. In fall 1970 though, ABC had a new show on Fridays that I was, for lack of a better term, addicted to, it followed Nanny and The Professor, and was called The Partridge Family starring Shirley Jones from the film Oklahoma and The Music Man and a group of relatively unknowns as her kids including an actor who had done some work on shows like Dragnet, Ironside, and Marcus Welby and was the son of Broadway star Jack Cassidy ( and incidentally Shirley Jones stepson) – David Cassidy.
David had it all, adorable dimples, beautiful smile, a glint of mischief in those green eyes, perfectly feathered long hair, a sense of humor, and he could SING… wow could he sing. Little did we fans know that they had slowed the tape a quarter step and then sped it up so he would sound ‘younger’ on those Partridge Family hits and albums but I don’t think we would have cared ( if you get the chance dig up the original recordings with David’s voice ‘normal’- they should have left it alone- it’s great). You couldn’t take your eyes off of him-Keith/David, and every Friday night the girls of America got to spend a half hour watching the antics of The Partridge family and oldest son Keith Partridge as portrayed by David. He was in 16 Magazine, Tiger Beat, Life Magazine, ( that Rolling Stone cover article and cover itself- wow!) on the radio.. records, posters, t-shirts, lunchboxes- David was everywhere- or David and his TV family. If you were lucky and drove your parents to distraction, you were a member of the David Cassidy Fan Club, or you did extra chores for extra allowance money to join if you were not old enough to hold down a job of some sort…. and those concerts- wow- Cassidymania took over the planet. Like the Beatles before him, thousands of girls would scream his name at sold out concerts he did on the weekends in between filming the show. It was pandemonium.
I never got to see David live back then sadly, that was where my Mom drew the line- she was not going to deal with a couple thousand screaming females. It’s ok, I have since watched video of the old shows ( not the same but we compromise). By 1974- with Cassidymania still going strong, David was tired, and needed a well deserved rest. He took his final bows on The Partridge Family as well as from live concerts. The show in London was insanity- 800 girls rushed the stage, the show was stopped and people told to step back and a girl named Bernadette Whelan died of heart failure from the pure excitement of seeing him. By all reports and in his own words this was too much on many levels for David. The girl had a health condition, and was in hospital a couple of days after but didn’t survive. Even knowing it wasn’t his fault and having talked with the girls parents, it was still a lot to bear for the then 24 year old superstar. David did the last couple of shows in England and that was that.
The rest of the 70s and 80’s saw him back to doing serious acting, something that was what he had pursued pre-Partridge craziness and recorded a few albums that met with modest success but nothing like the insanity that had swirled around him in the early 70’s. Did you know that the song “I Write The Songs” was first recorded by David and was a huge hit overseas? Yup! Look it up! The record label at the time ( David was on RCA by then) wouldn’t release the single in the USA because they thought it too weak…. Barry Manilow had a huge hit in the US with it and it became his signature song- could you imagine if David had released it instead? ( I prefer his version) . He did TV, had the show David Cassidy Undercover on NBC, and also did guest slots on shows like Police Story ( he was Emmy nominated for that one) and The Love Boat, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and even Blossom!
Over the years there were Reunion shows of the PF cast, David and Susan Dey aka Laurie Partridge gave out the fans choice on the MTV music awards in 1990. David had a hit with his song “Lyin to Myself” that year, and made appearances on shows like Arsenio but kept acting as well and doing theater, appearing on Broadway with his brother Shaun in Blood Brothers.. and then Vegas came knocking….
The show EFX at The MGM Grand Hotel and Casino was a success and as its start Michael Crawford and the production parted ways, they updated the show and needed a new lead. Enter… David Cassidy!
As I said earlier when people talk of EFX, Crawford, and David’s successors Tommy Tune and Rick Springfield ( Jessie’s Girl / Speak to the Sky…. yah that guy) are rarely mentioned- it is always David Cassidy who is most remembered as the star of the spectacular. If you get the chance to look up some of the footage on YouTube if you never got to see it live, I would highly recommend it! David commanded that stage from November of 96 to the end of 1998 when he moved on to star in his own production, At The Copa, which premiered over at The Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas with Sheena Easton as his co-star. In between David produce and directed ( and occasionally would do a guest slot) The Rat Pack Is Back at the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino where it played to sold out audiences before moving to the Sahara Hotel and Casino. Vegas loves it some David Cassidy and there was talk bubbling of him being the new “Mr Las Vegas” for a new generation! As they say, all good things come to an end and David left us in 2002 and packed up his things and relocated to Florida. He did come back and do a few guest slots in Rat Pack in 2006 but he never did a major show here again sadly.
David continued acting and was in shows like CSI and the film Popstar and continued to record and do concerts that included Q and A with fans that were, like David, older (and not screaming like they did 50 years ago), and the occasional Partridge Reunion. David also penned a couple of books, Could it Be Forever and Come On Get Happy ( Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus), both of which are great reads…. Sadly, in 2017, after over 50 years in the entertainment business, and a life that only some dream about with all of its ups and down, David took a final bow in this life and moved on to the next. He left behind not only his kids Beau and Katie, and a career that ran for decades, but a very devoted fan base, some there since the beginning, who continue to honor his memory and did so fabulously by raising the money to get a star dedicated to David on the Las Vegas Walk of Stars on the Las Vegas Strip.
The festivities for the dedication were held over the weekend of April 10 thru to April 12 which would have been David’s 72nd birthday at Bally’s Hotel and Casino with fans from around the world in attendance and special guests speaking at Fan Night that was held. A birthday dinner complete with cake was held at Las Vegas long standing restaurant Battista’s on Flamingo. The whole event could only be described as a labor of love of the fans for a man who was our first crush, our favorite singer, a bright spot for so many and who had a smile that could light up a room. His life may not have been all sunshine and rainbows but he continues to be a bright light for so many of us who grew up with his posters on our walls and records on our turn tables. Hopefully David, where ever you are, you could feel the love we all were sending out to you from around the world that day as we broke out our old t-shirts, hung on to the faded copies of 16, and sang I Think I Love You once again, sometimes off key, at the top of our lungs.
There was only 1 David Cassidy… we were blessed to be on the planet at the same time as he. For me, even though I was no longer that starry eyed kid, and was a wife and Mom by then, ( it should be noted my other half had perfectly feathered long hair- his was not as perfect as David but close), I got to live in the same city as he did…. and was reminded by the billboards in town that he was here… and I feel pretty blessed by that fact too… and now, if I walk past the Paris Hotel and Casino on the Vegas strip, I can stop for a moment and look at a star that reminds the world that he once was here too and sing quietly to myself those 5 words I have had memorized since 1970 and that every fan knows so well….
PHOTO CREDITS: Some photos are of things from the author’s personal collection. Photo of David Cassidy’s Star and ZRockR Editor Sylvia at the Star by Stephy Muzio ©2022 ZRockR Magazine- all rights reserved.
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