David Cassidy, pop culture idol of the 1970s, died Tuesday in a Florida hospital. The musician and actor was 67.
His publicist JoAnn Geffen confirmed his death, with a statement from his family. “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. 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.”
He had been hospitalized for several days with organ failure. Cassidy announced his diagnosis with dementia in early 2017. He performed at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York in March, talking about his dementia, and said his arthritis made playing guitar an ordeal.
With pretty-boy good looks and a long mane of dark hair, Cassidy was every girl’s favorite teen crush in the early 1970s and drew screaming crowds at concert appearances. David Cassidy was part of a show business family that included his father, Tony-winning actor Jack Cassidy, stepmother Shirley Jones, half-brother Shaun Cassidy and daughter, actress Katie Cassidy.
Raised in New Jersey, Cassidy moved to Los Angeles in 1969 after starring in a Broadway musical that closed after only four performances. In 1970, after signing with Universal, Cassidy took on the role of older brother Keith Partridge in “The Partridge Family.” Keith was the son of Shirley Partridge, who was played by Jones.
The ABC sitcom was loosely based on real-life family musical act the Cowsills, and ran from 1970 to 1974. The show became popular for its squeaky clean portrayal of life on the road as a family rock band in a brightly painted bus. In addition to Cassidy and Jones, “The Partridge Family” starred Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce and Suzanne Crough as the family’s other children, and Dave Madden as manager Ruben Kincaid.
Cassidy and Jones were the only cast members who were allowed to actually sing; the other kids lip-synced, while the Wrecking Crew provided musical backup. Theme song “C’mon Get Happy” became one of TV’s most enduring songs, and helped launch Cassidy’s musical career.
After the singles “I Think I Love You” and “Cherish” took off, Cassidy began working on solo albums as well. He regularly sold out stadiums, leading to commentators to coin the phrase “Cassidymania.” Several of his shows resulted in riots or mass hysteria, including one notable 1974 performance in Australia, which garnered calls for Cassidy to be deported from the country.
At a 1974 London concert, nearly 800 people were injured in a stampede at a Cassidy concert, and one teenage girl died a few days later. He stopped touring and acting soon after, concentrating on recording, and had a hit with “I Write the Songs” before Barry Manilow made it part of his act.
In musical theater, he performed in “Little Johnny Jones,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Time” and “Blood Brothers” and created the Vegas shows “The Rat Pack is Back” and “At the Copa.”
Cassidy was Emmy nominated for a guest role on a “Police Story” episode “A Chance to Live.” NBC based the series “David Cassidy – Man Undercover” on the segment, but it lasted just one season. He also made guest appearances on shows including “Fantasy Island,” “The Love Boat” and “Tales of the Unexpected.”
In the decades that followed, Cassidy continued to perform in Las Vegas and tour. At later shows, Cassidy was known for participating in Q&A sessions at his concerts. He also played the manager of Aaron Carter’s character in the 2005 film “Popstar” and starred with half-brother Patrick in “Ruby and the Rockits,” created by his half-brother Shaun.
But he struggled with achieving his peak fame early in life, dealing with alcoholism and being arrested several times for DUIs. He filed for bankruptcy in 2015.
He is survived by step-mother Shirley Jones, half-brothers Shaun, Patrick and Ryan; daughter Katie Cassidy and son, Beau Cassidy.