David Cassidy Television.

The 7.30 Report

September 16, 2002

Teen idol returns 30 years on

Australian Broadcasting Corporation
TV program transcript
Reporter: Alison Caldwell

KERRY O'BRIEN: When teen idol David Cassidy toured here in 1974 he was at the peak of his popularity.

A record 65,000 teenagers jammed the MCG to see him perform.

At the time, Cassidy was the world's highest-paid entertainer and boasted a fan club that had more members than either Elvis or the Beatles.

But, after that world tour, he called it quits at 24 -- saying he had become another victim of show business burnout.

Since then, he's kept a relatively low public profile, but now David Cassidy is on the road again with a return visit scheduled down-under.

Alison Caldwell reports.

DAVID CASSIDY: When you have an audience in front of you and they're I don't care if they're 50 or 50,000 people and they're screaming at the top of their lungs, "I love you" that's overwhelming, man.

I mean, I'm telling you, it's like -- you know, it's, it's powerful.

ALISON CALDWELL: In the early '70s, he was every schoolgirl's fantasy.

Thirty years on, David Cassidy is making a comeback.

DAVID CASSIDY: In a way, it's very strange because the last time they saw me I was playing, you know, Melbourne Cricket Grounds and these huge stadiums and madness and all of that and then, gone.

And now you're back.

And what happened to your hair?

The first thing is like, where are the puka shells and the shag?

DAVID CASSIDY: I worked 18 hours a day when I was in LA and when I would go on the road, the madness and the security and the -- all of it.

It was an overwhelming experience for somebody who was not ever planning on doing that.

It's a world that we live in today is a marketing business.

Most days there was a real innocence about it.

And genuine hysteria.

ALISON CALDWELL: David Cassidy was a relatively unknown actor until the American sitcom The Partridge Family catapulted him to fame in 1970.

He played the self-centred 16-year-old son of a single mother of five, a family living in the suburbs and making a living as a rock band.

With David Cassidy's breathy voice, his pin-up good looks and a handful of catchy pop tunes, The Partridge Familys' debut single sold 5 million copies and spawned a solo singing career for its lead actor.

DAVID CASSIDY: To be honest with you, I was cast as an actor, they didn't even ask me if I could sing.

Although in the screen test I picked up a guitar and I played 'Voodoo Child'.

I said, "you know, I really sing and play, you know.

I mean, that's something I do.

I play in rock'n'roll bands" and they went, "hmm, it might be an idea".

GLENN A BAKER, ROCK HISTORIAN: David Cassidy became at the time probably the biggest pop star that had ever been.

And yet sold 25 million records.

I mean, everything conspired in a way to lead up to that point where teen hysteria would reach that peak.

DAVID CASSIDY: Oh, It's a marketing business now.

It's like a cookie cutter -- there's nothing unique or original or organic about it anymore and I'm not saying that there aren't talented people, there are.

But now it's a TV marketing thing.

ALISON CALDWELL: Within two years, Cassidy-mania had crossed the Atlantic.

GLENN A BAKER: There was a generation of British girls I think that will have a flame burning for David Cassidy until they're carted off in pine boxes.

JANET FIFE-YEOMANS, FAN: He was a rock god.

I think that, I think that, you know offstage and off The Partridge Family TV, he was a rock god.

I'm sure he did all the things that rock gods did.

I'm sure he had the women and the wine -- I hope he did.

ALISON CALDWELL: Now a journalist and the deputy editor of the 'Australian' newspaper, Janet Fife-Yeomans caught Cassidy fever when she was 12-years-old and living in England.

JANET FIFE-YEOMANS: I spent ages sewing this jacket to put his name everywhere.

It says 'David is God', 'Janet loves David'.

Once you love someone like David Cassidy, it's always going to be with you.

DAVID CASSIDY: I think they come back because it's kind of nostalgic for them with their kids, and maybe that time in their lives.

But, there's like three gener -- like 7 to 70.

The bulk of them I'd have to say are 30s and 40s.

ALISON CALDWELL: Do you still get the same reaction?

DAVID CASSIDY: Yeah, their voices have dropped an octave, though.

ALISON CALDWELL: By 1974, hysterical scenes like these saw David Cassidy banned from English venues and hotels.

At the age of 24, he was burned out and ready to retire.

DAVID CASSIDY: I was a 23, 24-year-old guy who was locked up in a room and couldn't walk down the street, couldn't go anywhere, they had to wrap me up in blankets and throw me in the boot of the car and decoys --

I mean, the rest of the band and everybody else are out partying, having a ball.

I'm up there going, I wonder what's on TV, maybe I can get some baked beans and toast, you know.

It's very empty.

ALISON CALDWELL: After starring on Broadway and in Las Vegas and with a successful song-writing career behind him, David Cassidy is back on the road after a sell-out tour of England, he's now preparing for his first tour down-under in almost three decades.

DAVID CASSIDY: There's a spirit about the people here that I have never forgotten.

They love to have a good time.

Um, they love the sun.

They love to drink.

They love to gamble.

They love to smoke, they love horseracing.

ALISON CALDWELL: Your kind of people?

DAVID CASSIDY: My kind of people.

To a man, every person that travels with me is looking forward to coming and playing here more than anywhere else in the world.

David Cassidy Downunder Fansite