Want a jolt, baby boomers?
David Cassidy, whose teen idol status went into the stratosphere thanks to “The Partridge Family” television series (1970-74), turns 60 this week.
“You know, a lot of people talk to me about it and have been talking to me about it for the past several months,” the singer-actor said in a telephone interview last week from his Fort Lauderdale, Fla., home.
“Ask Mick Jagger what it’s like. He’s looking at 70. Ask Paul McCartney; he’s 67. It’s great. The alternative sucks. ... It’s going to be fun to laugh about it and go ‘Can you believe it?’ ” he said. “It’s actually my second 30th birthday.”
In a wide-ranging interview with the Quad-City Times, Cassidy — who performs next week at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf — gave his thoughts on a variety of topics:
On performing: “It’s such a great experience for me now to go around and tour and play places I haven’t been in many, many years, and go back to places I haven’t played in 30 years. And there are so many casinos — because I played Vegas for six years, did over 2,000 shows there — so it’s great to go to these places where none of us had been because they built these magnificent casinos and resorts. I get to see my fans all over the world and they get to see me and celebrate a lot of great times.”
On hearing that some Quad-City area fans have waited 40 years to see him perform: “How cool is that? ... Can you imagine how cool that is for me? People I’ve had an impact on? It’s become clearer and clearer to me that if you ask if I’ve had an impact on peoples’ lives, the answer would be yes. Twenty-five, 35, 40 years later, I’ve still brought joy to their lives. For that I’ll be forever grateful, and I’ll try to give it back every day of my life.”
On fame and publicity: “I’m a very private person. I’ve never been a party guy or a club guy. ... I just have avoided fame and try to stay very, very private. Not trying to get into the papers, but doing the opposite because I’ve had all of the attention, the covers of Rolling Stone and Life magazine and everything in the world that people are in pursuit of now. ... We live in such a celebrity-obsessed culture, I am now so blessed to have people around the world care about me. When you’re laid to rest and the question is, did you make a difference in peoples’ lives, I can say yes.
On the low points: “I’ve had a great career with enormous highs and enormous lows, and it’s the ride, it’s the journey. Without the low, you can’t appreciate the high. At the highs, you don’t appreciate the depths of the lows.”
On he and The Beatles: “The journey of my musical life began when I was 13 and The Beatles broke up. I went out and bought an electric guitar. I got to know John (Lennon) and Paul particularly well, but John very, very well. ... John and I became friends. He was like a mentor, and I became friends with he and Yoko (Ono). I actually flew back to New York to be with her (when Lennon was killed in 1980), but I did not go to the funeral because of the success and fame and everything else. I didn’t want to turn it into a circus or have people perceive me as pursuing that. I loved him. ... I got to know his depth and his passion for changing the world in a positive way, and he was willing to do that. I’ve never met another human being who had strictly this altruistic passion for peace.”
On his concert show, circa 2010: “I’m going to do a little musical journey, from the beginning with the ‘Partridge Family’ and do a lot of my own hits and solos. I went back in (for the 2007 CD “Part II: The Remix”) and did totally new arrangements with a great producer, and he took a lot of my and Partridge Family hits, and I’ll do a couple of the new arrangements. But most of them are as authentic as people remember them and probably better than I was back then.”
On getting cast as Keith Partridge: “I was just very fortunate to land a role as an actor. They didn’t even ask me if I could sing. They knew I could sing and they knew I could play, but they cast me as an actor. It just worked out that I had to audition for the record company after the pilot and audition for my record producer, Wes Farrell.”
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On distancing himself from “The Partridge Family”: “Absolutely never. Peoples’ interpretations of me saying I want to do other work didn’t mean I never wanted to talk about ‘The Partridge Family.’ I’ve carried the flag, so to speak, and I hold it in such esteem because it’s touched so many lives. Although I had done 10 leads in dramatic shows and had done a Broadway show before “The Partridge Family,” it’s responsible for making me familiar with people and becoming successful and being able to have the rest of my life to make that. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was a very precious experience for me. As an actor, I care about the work, I just didn’t want to talk about it over and over and over ...
On his Broadway career, including “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (1982-83) and “Blood Brothers” (1993-95): “I wanted to do other work where people could go, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could do that.’ That was about the time I did ‘Blood Brothers’ on Broadway, which changed my life and my career and became a hugely successful show. People went, ‘Wow, he’s really an actor.’ It gave me another opportunity to exploit my talent.”
On his TV series comeback, in 2009’s “Ruby and the Rock-Its,” a sitcom on the ABC Family cable channel: “The network told us their audience was teenage soap operas. ‘We can’t put you out there in the middle of our teenage soap operas with a half-hour situation comedy.’ We loved it and the audience was a lot broader than we anticipated. It was so fantastic working with my brothers (it was created by his half-brother Shaun and co-starred his half-brother Patrick). We wanted to do that, and it was great.”
On being the father of performers: “I’m at a place where my daughter’s (Katie, 23) doing so well ... in a film called “Taken,” with Liam Neeson, where she played the daughter and the first one to be taken, and she’s got another film lined up. She was in a television series I didn’t care for, the new ‘Melrose Place,’ but she was fantastic. The show was unwatchable. ... My son (Beau, 19) is a great talent and really a great guy. He has an enormous career ahead of him. He’s in dramatic arts in a college in Boston. I’m thrilled for him.”
On the influence of his father, actor Jack Cassidy (1927-1976): “My father instilled a very fantastic work ethic in myself and my brothers. (Fellow teen idol Shaun) and I, although we were prepared, found out it’s not about the fame. It’s about the work. Our father really was a great example of that. An incredible talent and very deeply troubled man, but very talented.”
On his advice to young performers: “For me, I’ve always said it’s not about the money, it’s not about the fame, it’s about the work. If you do great work, follow your gut and your instinct and work. ... The emphasis now is so much on fame and celebrity that they’ve almost lost (that). They want to be famous and have a big mansion and go to parties and get photographed and ‘get my name in the paper.’ I have been the opposite, the antithesis. My work is my work when I’m there. In a public and professional environment, that’s great. Take as many photographs as you want. But when I go home, don’t invade my privacy. That’s always been the case. Consequently, I’ve had people living in my air conditioner unit, having people from all over the world climbing over fences. ... You have no idea. I’d tell them not to give up their day job and to be careful what they wish for. Make your life an honest, authentic one. If it’s your dream to perform, do it for the love and joy of doing it. If you’re any good and the stars are aligned, great. But everyone wants to be on ‘American Idol.’ ”