God, David Cassidy was hot.
He was hot in a way which has been so hilariously of its time: that feathered hair, billowing at every minute as to absolutely frame these cheekbones, those dimples, and these ebullient eyes. He had been so pretty you could not look away, but not so pretty that you’re too preoccupied to nab a look at that chest hair peeking out of his top, always.
However he was alluring. Maybe not “can you think you ever discovered that appealing?” But “why not they look like that anymore?” Of course, the androgynous good looks are evergreen. Always have been, always will be.
The persona was hot, the type of non-threatening genial guy you’d bring home that evening, while hoping he’d literally do that, to charm the pants off your mother. The voice was hot: serviceable, lilting candy, and familiar, like he sang for you.
The charisma burst from every framework of The Partridge Family, powerful enough to get to the rafters of the arenas he’d put records selling out. It was a star-power that burnt so bright, so quickly that, despite maintaining a career in show business, it always appeared like he had been enjoying catch-up to that summit, chasing. The urge to reach that, however, that was sexy even during his darkest struggles.
Cassidy, among the most important and perhaps most iconic of modern music’s teen idols, expired Tuesday night of complications from dementia. He was hospitalized due to organ failure for many days. He was 67.
Few performers in the 70s needed his Midas touch. However, his profession–let alone his lifetime–was ideal. When a megawatt smile becomes that famous, as we’ve discovered they are. And as idols go, boy was he famous. And boy was he a cautionary tale.
He was not the first. There was Elvis, Sinatra, that the Beatles. He was not the last. Michael Jackson, the Justins, both Timberlake and Bieber, and a newsstand’s value of Tiger Beat fixtures have all been compared to Cassidy in one manner or another, continuing to reshape the mold of this pop supernova just as Cassidy himself needed.
Stretching back to generations of singers and performers, we graph those comparisons on the merits of records covers plastered on, and decibels of lovers’ cries, but also on the cost all of the takes on a person.
Stars of now are, for all their handlers and gatekeepers, still at least accessible. There is social websites press tours, as well as the paparazzi policy of websites like TMZ to keep them always at your fingertips. Cassidy’s fame in comparison seems untouchable.
You will find stampedes at concerts. Cassidymania was so hysterical throughout a trip in Australia that calls were made to have him deported for its disturbance. He set attendance records in the largest stadiums in the U.S.
For a matinee star best known for sending millions of American his celebrity transcended time and space. He was still, somehow, trendy. At least mostly. Hell, everyone can still sing along to “I Think I Love You.”
He’s also the excellent example of the singer distressed to become an honored rock star, but saddled in the role of idol that he rebelled against.
The cries will blow out your eardrums. Maybe, too, they blow out a little bit of your awareness of reality, a little of your comprehension of the world around you, a little about your common sense, your decency, and maybe even the fabric of what causes you to you.
You write about the Biebers of the world these days, chronicling every misstep with maybe slightly more glee than each victory or landmark, and you wonder exactly what the pressure of fame must be like for someone like that. It’s different compared to the pop deities that came before him, but also a bit the same. You can chronicle that the “acting out” of these stars and recognize that the familiar pattern. You may also mourn a fate which seems destined.
For Cassidy, struggles acclimating to such a degree of popularity in life appeared to manifest itself years afterwards. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll profiles in the peak of his celebrity lionized a party-boy picture, hinting at demons that the rollicking was concealing. Fame has a way of eventually exposing them.
He had been detained on three different events for DUIs, finally admitting to a problem with alcohol in 2014. The Daily Mail recounts an episode in 2010 when lovers walked out of a show after Cassidy endured an apparent meltdown, “either strung out on drugs or drunk,” as one witness reported. In 2005, after a career that included fan clubs which counted more members compared to the Beatles or Elvis Presley’s and almost 30 million albums’, he filed for bankruptcy. It was not the first time that he cried financial ruin. He claimed to be $ 800,000 in debt, for his title with only $ 1,000.
The fall from grace is so familiar. In fact, it would be considered predictable to the point of clich. An adventure with fame such as the one Cassidy struggled through wouldn’t serve as a foreboding story for climbing pop stars makes the cycle even more tragic.
Will we be kinder to these idols we worship?
In his later years as a celebrity, Cassidy began to adopt the teen idol picture he spent so much of his career fruitlessly rebuffing. Shows in Las Vegas and tours became popular, especially with the Q&A sessions he participate candidly in afterward. He glanced to the notoriety of being David Cassidy, too, most recently playing Aaron Carter’s director in the 2005 film Popstar and starring in the children’s series Ruby & the Rockits.
Because we’ve seen the rubble and destruction down in rock bottom behavior from the rising stars of today is indeed disturbing. You can not shake the impression that these individuals even understand they might be falling apart, but cannot prevent it. Similarly, we have not ever been in a position to stop then gawking at it, and enabling it.
A quote which introduced maybe the most famous profile written of Cassidy, the shirtless black and white Rolling Stone cover from 1972, “Naked Lunch Box: The Business of David Cassidy,” written in the height of his celebrity, is especially tragic now:
“There’ll be a time when this whole thing will soon be finished. I won’t do concerts I won’t wake up in the afternoon feeling and I won’t be operating a punch card program. When I was hoarse I have had to sing. I have had them at my headstating ‘Record, cause we’ve gotta get the album out by Christmas! ” When it is finished, I’ll feel really good. I’ve got an image of myself. I am living on an island. The sky is blue, the sun is shining. And I am smiling, I am healthy, I am a family person. I visit my skin quite brown and leathery, with a little bit of development in my face. My hair is long, with a lot of grey. I have some grey hair already.”
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