Come On Get Happy
The Arcada Theatre hosts a rare evening with David Cassidy
By Deborah L. Kunesh
Copyright 2007 by Deborah L. Kunesh
Mention the name David Cassidy and most likely, visions of the ultra-cool, dreamy Keith Partridge crooning “I Think I Love You” come to mind. In the background, a mirage that includes a multi-colored school bus filled with a groovy musical family, touting tambourines, drums, a band manager and beckoning vocal pipes. The Partridge Family, with it’s mix of music, teen idols, family television drama and high jinks, all added up to a television show that so many of us grew up on and loved.
The Arcada Theatre, continuing its series of nostalgia concerts with former teen idols that have included Davy Jones and Frankie Avalon, will host a rare evening with David Cassidy on July 6th.
Though Cassidy is probably best known for playing Keith Partridge on the Partridge Family television series, alongside his step mom Shirley Jones (who played his mom on the series), Cassidy also enjoyed enormous success on his own, garnering teen idol status not only during the run of the show, but also on the concert tours he tirelessly undertook, some while still working on the series. He also enjoyed success before his intense popularity blossomed as the eldest Partridge child and went on afterwards to pursue many different avenues of creative endeavors.
His career included insane travel schedules in between filming the television series, and his concerts had a rap for creating hysteria among young girls who would push towards the stage to get closer to him. “It scared a lot of people because there was so much hysteria surrounding my concerts,” said Cassidy. “A lot of parents didn’t want their daughters to come to the shows thinking that they were going to get hurt. Thank God it’s not like that anymore. It’s fun and it’s very high energy, but it’s not hysteria, thank God. People actually listen to the songs and it’s great.”
Cassidy’s fan club became the largest in the history of the music business, surpassing those of even The Beatles and Elvis. He went on to receive Grammy nominations for his solo career and did some notable acting including television and stage, Broadway, where he starred in the original production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and London’s West End where he starred in “Time” with Sir Laurence Olivier. In 1994 he broke box office records in “Blood Brothers” along with his brother Shaun, and ended up turning his EFX show at the MGM Grand Hotel, into one of the biggest attractions in Las Vegas. After that he partnered with award-winning writer/producer Don Reo to create “The Rat Pack is Back!” which played to sold-out audiences at Las Vegas Desert Inn and also at the Sahara Hotel & Casino. Simultaneously, Cassidy and Reo also wrote and produced “At The Copa” in which he starred the following year at the Rio, which also included new songs written by Cassidy.
Cassidy will take the stage at 8 p.m. on July 6th and recently took some time out to speak with us by phone about his career, fame and his upcoming Arcada show.
Q & A With David Cassidy
Getting to know David Cassidy beyond his Keith Partridge Persona
Q: Your Mom took you to see your Dad perform on Broadway when you were three. What was it about seeing your father perform that made you want to follow in his footsteps?
A: Most boys, I think, we look to our fathers as giants and in my father’s case, he was, on the stage, and at the time he had passed, he was considered to be probably the best, finest theatrical American actor. He had done over 40 shows, won Tony Awards, he was a powerful presence. You know, being around music and around theatre as a young guy and everyone in my family sang and played instruments; it was always around me and was a very natural thing for me to feel that way. I guess I just somehow or another connected to what he was doing and loved him and worshipped and adored him as a little boy. I always aspired to do what I’ve been able to do for the last 30 plus years, so I have been remarkably fortunate, and fortunately resilient, and I’ve had a lot of success in different arenas, from recording to television to the theatre, concerts, Las Vegas and production shows and everything else. As a writer and producer. I’m really very, very fortunate. It’s really my fans though that have been supportive of my work and everything that I’ve done.
Q: As far as having that kind of fame come at you that quickly and being so young. How was all of that for you? What was it like?
A: It was overwhelming, life-changing, helter skelter. You don’t go through that kind of experience, having the largest fan club in history, people sleeping outside your home and following you everywhere you go, living in a virtual bubble for 5 years, traveling all over the world, security traveling with you and not being able to enjoy what most people take for granted, even going to a restaurant, the grocery store, the bank. That changed dramatically. You’re never the same when you come out of it, but hopefully you’re somewhat grounded internally that you can move on. It took me a while to assimilate all of it and to feel comfortable in my own skin again and not compete with my own fame and appreciate the fact that I made people happy. I have tried to stay away from Hollywood and all of the trappings that are there. Anywhere I knew photographers would be, I would be going the other way. I’ve always been rather reclusive, as I still am. I never sought the fame or publicity, it just came and came dramatically. I think that the world in terms of fame and all of that has changed. It used to be you became famous for what you did, and for the work you did as opposed to being famous for being famous. It’s a completely different world. I have always done what I do because I love the work and it’s that that drives me, not the money or the fame.
Q: It’s great when you get to do something that you love and are able to pursue your passion:
A: Yeah. I don’t know what I would be doing in my life had I not been successful in creative means because I didn’t follow up or have an education in any other area. The education I got was very young. Eighteen, 19, 20 years-old working with the greatest actors, writers, producers, musicians. I was given a tremendous gift.
Q: You’ve mentioned that your own childhood was so different from that of Keith Partridge? In what ways?
A: Oh, yeah. I grew up in Southern California in the 1960’s. It was very different. I was an only child as opposed to having siblings. My brothers all lived with my step mom. I am very close to them, but we were not raised in the same house. It was a very, I would say, turbulent, fantastic from a musical standpoint and a social standpoint, (time). The Beatles broke out when I was 13. I played in garage bands and rock and roll bands when I was in junior high and high school and saw some of the great talents of all time in the local area where I lived. They were not legends at the time, kind of hard to imagine. I went to school with the drummer of The Doors’ younger brother and we went and saw The Doors at The Whiskey. Buffalo Springfield played at my high school at an assembly. That kind of world.
Q: What was it like working with your Step Mom Shirley Jones? Was it ever awkward?
A: It was great. She’s such a terrific role model for me. How she handled being the star of the show. Even though I emerged as the star of the show in some respects, I never ever assumed that role around her or our family or people who worked on the show. To me, she always set the tone and was always very willing to do and be a great role model. (She was) completely professional. Sweet and kind as can be. A lot of what she comes across as her television persona on that show really wasn’t far from who she was and is. Strong and yet kind. Talented and caring. I love her. She is my brothers’ mom and she was married to my father. She was a great help to me in my difficult relationship with my Dad and served as a great buffer. In the end he found it more and more difficult to cope with my fame and success and he was very tortured by her fame and success, as well as mine, and that he had not achieved a higher level. I loved him and admired him but I just couldn’t find a way to have it be okay for him. It was a rough one for us. I forgive him for all of it. We are all flawed. Somehow or another, we all get through it. I worshipped him and loved him and I loved all of the things he gave me in my life as a human being.
Q: Tell me a little about the new album, David Cassidy, Part II, The Remix (with arranger/producer Craig J…..Madonna, Cher, Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani):
A: Yeah. It’s a very ambitious project to take these songs that are, they’re fantastic songs, you know….Craig is in his late 20’s and he did not grow up with that (these songs) and he came to me and said “you know, I think we can put a very different spin on this,” and I was a bit hesitant and said “what do you have in mind?” Thirty seconds later I got it. It’s great to be making music that’s relevant again. Some of the songs on the album include Come On Get Happy, I Think I Love You, I Woke Up In Love This Morning, I’ll Meet You Halfway and the Craig J. Come On Get Happy “GoGo” Remix, among others.
Q: Are there any experiences during your varied and successful career that stand out for you?
A: My work with my brother Shaun on Broadway. My brother to me is charmful and working with him is as significant as anything I’ve ever done in my life. Shaun and I had never worked together. That’s the last thing as an actor that he’s ever done. He’s become a very successful writer and producer for television. He no longer wants to act. But he and I have talked about it many times. When you get a chance to play those parts, in that particular play (Blood Brothers), it’s indescribable how powerful it is. It is forever to me the most significant thing I’ve ever done as an actor because of my relationship with my brother. I love my brothers and I’m very close to them. The idea that we got to do what we got to do and it became so successful, it changed my life and career a lot.
Q: How did your upcoming show at the Arcada come about?
A: I’ve been sort of hand-picking places to play all over the country. I was in Chicago about 2-3 months ago and my arranger/producer Craig J., who has become sort of one of the hottest producers in the business in the last couple of years, works and lives in Chicago. I was doing some work with him there and we started talking about playing in Chicago. He told me about the theatre in St. Charles. I did a little research on it and said, let’s see if we can find a date that will be suitable with your schedule and mine, and hopefully we can get all the fans in Chicago and that area to come out and celebrate it with us. I haven’t played there in many years. It will be an event. Craig is coming as well as the girls that sang on the new CD. We’re going to do all of the new arrangements of all of my hits and the Partridge Family hits. I think we’re going to make a real celebration out of it. This show at the Arcada will only be the second time in North America that we’re going to do it all. It’s really a musical journey throughout all of my life. I got to know John (Lennon) and I played with Paul (McCartney). I got to know John very well. He used to kind of mentor to me. I will take people through all of that. Just be prepared to scream and jump, dance and sweat and let your hair down. The reaction I had to the first show like this that we played at The House of Blues in Atlantic City, was maybe the best I’ve ever experienced in the last 25 or 30 years. It was overwhelming. People Magazine came and gave my album five stars.
Q: What would you like your audience at the Arcada to walk away with?
A: I would love them to walk away knowing how much music means to me and what they mean to me. That I know the impact it had on people’s lives. I’ve heard it from people all over the world for many years. Having done so much other work and not performing my own hits and my own songs in concert for more than 10 years, now to have gone in and re-recorded it (on the new CD) and to have done it from this perspective, it’s a beautiful thing to share it with them and to celebrate it and that’s what we’re going to do. I promise you this. You will come away with a smile on your face, as will I. We’re going to blow the roof off that place!
For tickets, call The Arcada Theatre at (630) 587-8400, or go to www.thearcada.com or www.o-shows.com
David Cassidy Fact Sheet
The Concert: 8 p.m. July 6th at The Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main Street, St. Charles.
His Parents are: Actors Evelyn Ward and Jack Cassidy
His Step Mom: Shirley Jones
His Siblings: Half-brothers Shaun (The Hardy Boys), Patrick and Ryan Cassidy, from the marriage of David’s father and Shirley Jones
His Wife: Sue Shifrin-Cassidy, a well-known songwriter. They’ve been married since 1991.
Her credits include Tina Turner's "Show Some Respect," Heart's "Strangers of the Heart," Smokey Robinson's "You Don't Know What it's Like,” the Dionne Warwick-Howard Hewett duet "Another Chance to Love," Al Jarreau's #1 hit "So Good," and Bob Carlisle's first hit record "Giving You the Rest of My Life." Other artists who have recorded her tunes include Cher, Meatloaf, the Pointer Sisters, Olivia Newton-John, Teddy Pendergrass, and Michael Jackson. Among her film credits are "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure," "About Last Night," and "All the Right Moves." Sue was one of 20 American songwriters to go to the Soviet Union in the much heralded Music Speaks Louder Than Words where she collaborated with Michael Bolton and Barry Mann, to name a few. Source: www.davidcassidy.com www.cassidyland.com
His Kids: Beau Cassidy (born 1991), Katie Cassidy (born 1986) Country singer, model, actress. She played the recurring role of Zoe on the WB’s 7th Heaven among other roles.
His Passion: Breeding and racing thoroughbred horses
Instruments he plays: guitar, drums, percussion and piano Source: www.tv.com
One of his Mentors: John Lennon. Cassidy played with Lennon as well as Paul McCartney on separate occasions.
His Career Before The Partridge Family: Worked at the L.A. Theatre Company his last year in high school. In a Broadway show that closed and landed a number of leading guest star roles in dramatic television shows of the time: Mod Squad (he played the character of Brad), Marcus Welby, Adam 12, Bonanza and others.
David working with his step mom Shirley Jones: David and Shirley met up unexpectedly while David was back for his 5th or 6th screen test and Shirley had already gotten the part of Shirley Partridge (the original screenplay had the part named as Connie). Neither knew the other was auditioning for the show. They kept their family connection quiet until after David got the part of Keith Partridge. Shirley was called and told that David had gotten the part and she then spilled the beans. Source: Music @ AOL
His chance meeting with Blues legend B.B. King: He saw him perform at The Whiskey in 1977 and was waiting outside after the show for a friend to pick him up. “B.B. King came out and he parked up the street and had Lucille with him and I was walking up the street. I told him that I had his last album and that I just loved Sweet Little Angel, and he was like “That’s cool, that’s great.” I told him that I play guitar and he said “Oh man, that’s fantastic.” I walked him up to his car and helped him in the car with his guitar and said “Okay, Goodnight B.B.” and he said “Goodnight.” “You know, you think about it now,” said Cassidy, “and it’s such a different world. It was a very innocent, believe it or not, very innocent (world and time).