Former teen heartthrob David Cassidy, known to millions as Keith Partridge from the TV sitcom, “The Partridge Family,” has died.
Cassidy, who was 67, had been hospitalized over the weekend from organ failure, according to media reports.
Tuesday night, publicist JoAnn Geffen released a statement saying Cassidy had died “surrounded by those he loved.” No further details were immediately available, according to The Associated Press.
He made millions swoon in the 1970s and sold millions of records in his career.
Here, we pay tribute to him by republishing this profile on him in 2003.
From the N&O archives -- Dec. 8, 2003
David Cassidy: They think they love him
FAYETTEVILLE Sitting on the edge of the stage at the Crown Theatre Friday night, David Cassidy summoned a fan forward. A woman approached, a look of disbelief on her face. The look turned to rapture as Cassidy reached down, put his arm around her, raised his microphone and sang:
Oh, I’m beginning to think that man has never found
The words that could make you want me.
Looking as if she were about to faint, the woman made her way back to her seat – and it became obvious that she was pregnant.
“Not mine,” Cassidy quipped and kept singing, not missing a beat.
In the early 1970s, Cassidy was the biggest pop star on Earth. Like “American Idol” star Clay Aiken, Cassidy rose to overnight stardom via a television show – beloved to millions as teenage rock star Keith Partridge on “The Partridge Family.” During its 1970-74 run, the series was must-see TV for people (especially girls) of a certain age.
“Oh, I had pictures all over my room and read about him in Tiger Beat every month,” said Mary Lou Edge, 43, in the Crown Theatre’s lobby before the show. “And every Friday night at 8:30, I had to watch ‘The Partridge Family.’ My brothers and sisters and I would pretend we were them. Somewhere, there’s a tape of us doing that. I wish my sisters could be here!”
Thirty years later, Cassidy occupies a peculiar station in popular culture. He has tried to reinvent himself on Broadway and in Las Vegas, and his live show is more like what you’d see in Branson, Mo., or Myrtle Beach, S.C., than a rock club. Yet his persona is still defined by a fictional character he played three decades ago.
By now, most of Cassidy’s fans are 40 and older. His Fayetteville concert, sponsored in part by Blue-Emu pain relief products, drew the sort of crowd you’d expect to see at the State Fair – excited-looking, middle-age women, their bemused husbands in tow.
There were exceptions. Sandi Shorter, a hip-looking 29-year-old, was born the year “The Partridge Family” was cancelled. Thanks to reruns, she became an obsessive fan. She uses a Partridge Family lunchbox for a purse and has a Partridge Family tattoo on her back (of two cartoon birds from the show’s animated introduction sequence).
Shorter took Friday off from her job at a venture capital firm in Durham to hang around the venue, and she scored a ticket for a balcony seat from one of Cassidy’s backup musicians. After the show began, she snuck downstairs and found an empty seat within 10 rows of the stage.
“I have a David Cassidy fetish, I suppose,” Shorter said. “At work, everybody jokes about me drinking out of my ‘Come On, Get Happy’ mug. I didn’t even lie about why I took today off: ‘David Cassidy is playing in Fayetteville, I have to take the day off.’ They just laughed and said, ‘Sure.’ They all think I’m a nut.”
Onstage Friday night, Cassidy gave off an amiably nervous vibe, as if he expected to be arrested at any moment. Between songs, he kept patting his thinning hair into place as he talked to the audience – which was well-behaved enough that he could be heard when he spoke off-microphone. He wore a bright red shirt and black pants, and he came across as hammy, eager-to-please and self-deprecating.
“Do you remember that one?” Cassidy asked after playing “I’ll Meet You Halfway.” The audience howled in the affirmative, and he looked almost relieved.
Cassidy played a little guitar here and there, but he left the instrumental heavy lifting to his backup band. By now, his voice is a theatrical lounge-lizard croon that’s not well-suited to his best-known oldies. So he threw in some changeups, such as an odd jazz/funk arrangement of “Come On, Get Happy” and covers by the likes of the Beatles, B.B. King and Bill Withers.
Throughout the show, a stream of giggling women came forward to snap pictures. The stream turned into a tidal wave right before the encore when Cassidy did the signature Partridge Family hit, “I Think I Love You.” He introduced it as “a song I’ll do for the rest of my days,” but did not seem entirely bitter about it.
At the song’s unmistakable “ba ba ba ba” introduction, several dozen women charged to the front of the hall, jumping up and down as they sang along. One woman flung an undergarment toward the stage. Another held up a handmade sign that said, “I Think I Love You.”
I think I love you
Isn’t that what life is made of?
Though it worries me to say,
I’ve never felt this way.
“It was a dream come true,” the woman with the sign sighed afterward. “I loved him. I’d love to meet him.”
A certain age
After the house lights came up, a clutch of fans lingered, hoping to get backstage for a picture or an autograph. Shorter brought along a vintage David Cassidy comic book, plus the single sleeve for “I Think I Love You.” She pronounced herself mostly pleased with the 75-minute show, although disappointed it didn’t last longer.
“But he didn’t play ‘Echo Valley,’ which I yelled for,” she said. “And the air guitar ... I dunno. I love him a lot more than most people, but the air guitar was a little much.”
Talk turned to Cassidy’s age. Told that he’s 53, Shorter gasped.
“Oh, my God,” she said. “He’s my father’s age! When is his birthday? April? He’s older than my dad!”
Shorter paused and looked toward the backstage door, where camera flashes were going off.
“Well,” she said, “only a month or two older.”