Movies have been made about David Cassidyís incredible rise to stardom. By the age of 21 he was the highest paid solo performer in the world with a fan club that exceeded both the Beatles and Elvis combined. Playing a T.V. character named Keith Partridge turned David Cassidy into the all-time teen idol. Between 1970 and 1974 he had the hit television show, the sold-out concerts, a bunch of top ten records, and legions of screaming fans. His image was everywhere and merchandisers were making millions off of him. He was on top of the world but he was overwhelmed by it. He was trapped in the white hot glare of celebrity that so few have ever had to deal with. Burn out was inevitable and when the fall came it came quickly. Before the end of the decade he was washed up. Finished.
David Cassidy is 50 now and heís as hot an entertainer as there is in the industry. He began building his career back up by performing in theatre. He got a break in 1983 when he starred on Broadway in Andrew Lloyd Webberís "Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." A couple years later he found himself starring with Sir Lawrence Olivier in Londonís west end theatre district in a play called "Time." In the early nineties he was back on Broadway starring alongside his half-brother Shaun in the enormously successful "Blood Brothers." After that Vegas came calling and things got interesting.
In 1996 David moved to Las Vegas where he replaced an injured Michael Crawford in a special effects extravaganza called "EFX." It would soon become the most successful production in Vegas and David starred in it for three full years. David, with the help of his partner Don Reos, then went on to write, produce, and direct a show called "The Rat Pack Is Back," This production, which is still going strong today, is a journey back to December 12, 1961, the day of Frank Sinatraís 46th birthday. It is a loving tribute to the Vegas of yesteryear. And finally thereís "At The Copa" which just ended this past January. This was a semi-autobiographical show that David wrote and co-starred in with Sheena Easton. It was a combination Broadway play and live concert and many felt it was a musical masterpiece. "At The Copa" told the story of two would be entertainers who worked at the legendary Copa. The show ended at the height of itís popularity.
After working non-stop for many years now, David is ready to move on to other things. He has been happily married to Susan Shifrin-Cassidy for thirteen years and the two have a ten year old son named Beau. He also has a love of horses and has been in the thoroughbred horse business for some time. He will be going on a concert tour triumphantly returning to venues he hasnít been at in nearly thirty years. He is especially excited about performing at the Foxwoods Casino on March 10th. This phone interview took place on the afternoon of February 16th. David was at a horse farm in Florida at the time.
BH Ė So David I understand that this will be the first time youíve ever appeared on the cover of a music magazine.
DC Ė (Laughs) "Yeah thatís true. Iíve never been on the cover of a music magazine"!
BH Ė I heard youíve been in the studio lately. Can I ask you what youíre working on?
DC Ė "Iím working on some new tracks that will go on a compilation album full of old and new material. Iím just finishing up our contract and itís with one of the three major labels and Iím extremely anxious to finish it. I just finished my show in Vegas about three weeks ago and just went out on Wednesday night (2/14) and did my first concert on the road. Iím seriously looking forward to coming to Foxwoods because so many friends of mine and so much of my family is from back there. I lived in Connecticut for a while."
BH Ė Where was that?
DC Ė "I lived in Ridgefield for five years and Iíve never been to Foxwoods but Iíve heard so many great things about it."
BH Ė What kind of show will you be bringing to Foxwoods?
DC- " What Iím probably going to do is bring a pretty large band. Weíll probably have six horns and three background singers, five in the rhythm section plus me. So if you count that up you should have a pretty seriously big band. Iím going to do two or three things from ĎAt The Copa.í
Iím going to do a lot of my old songs, a lot of my old hits, a lot of my solo stuff certainly from ĎOld Trick New Dogí ( his 1998 release) and probably one new thing. You know when youíve had thirty years and eighteen albums you can draw from a lot of material. Iím also thinking about doing a song from ĎBlood Brothersí which I did on Broadway."
BH Ė Was it sad doing "At The Copa" for the final time after such a great run?
DC Ė "No I was absolutely thrilled and delighted. I produced two shows and I been doing eight shows a week and we been working on it for fifteen months and I really havenít stopped. My plate has been so full with the eight shows a week and producing the two shows and recording, itís just been too much. So now Iím going out and doing what I really wanted to do. I get to work a lot less and do what I love to do and spend more time having some balance in my life. Having a life! I mean I never used to get to come down here in Florida where I have some horses. I have a pretty sizable investment in the horse business and I could never leave, I was working forty-eight weeks a year in Las Vegas and you canít go away when youíre working six days a week. Yeah, so Iím really anxious to get back out on the road and see a lot of the places I played a long time ago. Iím going to play the Greek Theatre this summer in L.A. I havenít been back in L.A. in ten years so itís going to be really cool. Iím very excited about it."
BH Ė David what kind of feedback have you been getting since the VH-1 Behind The Music segment about you aired?
DC Ė "Well the same kind of feedback Iíve been getting for the last decade now. I think part of what is so exciting to me is that, you know when youíre really successful and youíre really young and your audience is very young, you go through a period of being out of favor. And then itís funny how all of the sudden you walk out the door one day and everybody goes ĎYOUíRE THE MAN!í It was almost like that. I felt really good about the piece on VH-1. As you know Iíve had three biographies made about my life so people know an awful lot about me. Some people didnít really have an understanding of what I was, what the experience was like for me and what my life has been. Really truly itís been about the journey and the work that I do and that I love the work. Itís not about the fame and the money because if you do good work all that stuff comes. Itís been the work that has carried me and I never wanted to rest on my laurels or go back and do what I done before. I wanted to do new things, creative and artistically exciting things. Things that made me want to get up in the morning. And on a personal level I think that my life has really had the same kind of metamorphosis. I think there was a perception because I didnít want to go back and do the same thing over and over again, and make the same record, or do the same television show, and I didnít want to do a reunion show that I didnít like it or that I didnít want to sing the songs and it was quite the contrary. I absolutely loved it and I wanted to protect it. Iím not a guy whoís been out there slogging through it. I donít play nostalgia acts. I donít play nostalgia shows. Iíve been able to go on and have a successful career on Broadway and certainly the last five years in Las Vegas have been amazing. So now going back out and doing concerts, itís really the next step for me. And for me to go back and to play for audiences some of whom have been following me for thirty years and some who have found me in the last five or six years, thatís really an interesting thing. I have an audience that goes from kids to seventy year olds."
BH- Iím sure youíll have fans who saw you thirty years ago that will be bringing their kids along with them this time.
DC Ė "Yeah thatís really cool and I also think that once people start to understand that I wasnít that guy I was playing, hey Iím not the same guy I was when I was 19 or 20 anyway but, that Iím not a cardboard cutout or a bubblegum card or a comic book. You know my frustration was that people never really knew me, they only saw this imagery that was me playing this character on television that was nothing like me. You know I got kicked out of high school and I used to go to Hendrix concerts. I used to go see Marvin Gaye and B.B. King and so here I am on television as an actor playing the part of this really sweet wholesome all American boy. The reality was I had a much different kind of teenage life. So I think that the perception now is who I am and I feel very, very fortunate. I love singing and playing and Iíve been acknowledged for what I do. Iím one of the luckiest guys on the planet to have survived and have gone on to have a career that in so many ways is much more successful and certainly a lot more gratifying. Iíve been asked to go back and do a television series and I thought I donít want to do that anymore. And even though the power of television is second to none, and I think itís where the world became aware of me, I really love the work I get to do live at the theatre and producing, directing, writing now. You know the show I wrote, produced, and directed in Las Vegas now, ĎThe Rat Pack Is Back,í has been a huge hit and I just want to continue to do things that entertain people, that brings some light to peopleís lives. I love to work like that. Thatís what I wake up in the morning and start to think about. Itís not a job, itís a gift to be able to have that."
BH Ė You sound really happy.
DC Ė "Iíve never been happier, honestly, Iíve never ever been happier. My life has flourished in so many ways both personally and professionally that I canít ask for a better life. You know two nights ago (2/14) I played my first show in Tunica which is the second largest gaming market in the United States behind Las Vegas if you can believe that. And it was unbelievable. The show was incredibly successful, they had their biggest weekday night ever. So for me Iíve continually been supported by so many fans and people that have not seen me in a long time. I canít wait to get back out and play and I certainly hope you come and see the show."
BH Ė Iíll definitely be there! You know David when you see Foxwoods for the first time youíre going to feel like Dorothy in The Wizard OF Oz when she first sees the emerald city.
DC Ė "I hear it is absolutely unbelievable. I talked to Englebert Humperdink believe it or not and he told me itís just about the nicest place heís ever played. So I can only say Iím really anxious to come and I hope everybody comes to see me."
BH Ė David I was reading about kidscharities.org. Is that an organization that your wife Susan started?
DC Ė "Indeed. Itís her baby and Iíve tried to assist her but she really doesnít need my help. Weíre doing a big event at Saratoga Springs in New York on August 4th which is going to benefit some of the local and regional children related charities. But itís something that my wife has such a passion for. She sees to it that a hundred percent of all the on-line donations to these charities. Sheís given away hundreds of thousands of dollars now and itís only a year old so Iím really proud of her. She devotes ten hours a day to it and itís her passion in life. Sheís a great parent and sheís somebody who has such great compassion for human beings. So weíre going to do David Cassidyís day at the races at Saratoga Springs on August 4th and thereíll be great auctions and fantastic racing and lunches. Theyíre going to auction off some trips around the world, some really amazing stuff as well as horse related things. The New York racing association has been very supportive and weíre doing this together. Weíre trying to raise money for the Belmont Child Care Center and a number of the charities that my wife could tell you about. Itís a wonderful thing and Iím very proud of her and Iím trying to assist her."
BH Ė Finally is your son Beau a musician yet?
DC Ė "Heís probably going to be an entertainer I would think. Heís great, heís got an incredible ear and a wonderful voice, but mostly heís a great person and Iím really proud of who he is whatever he decides to do. The idea of him being brought up in this environment, heís seen me since the day he was born working non-stop from television to recordings to movies and producing, but mostly in the theatre and in shows. So because heís seen me doing all that since the day he was born I just canít imagine him deciding that one day heís going to become a brain surgeon! I think the likelihood is that because heís got a great imagination that heíll do something creative. Whatever he wants to do Iíll do my best to help him out."
Itís exciting to know how excited David Cassidy is to come to our area. Foxwoods seems like such a perfect venue for him and it will be nice to welcome him back to Connecticut. So David Cassidyís amazing journey from teen idol to Broadway star to Mr. Vegas to touring rock and roller continues. It would make a great movie donít you think?
- Bill Harriman