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Sometimes, when you see someone in their later years and you are absolutely stunned as to just how poorly they seem to be doing, you sometimes have a hard time erasing that image from your brain. When I mean how poorly they are doing, I mean from a physical standpoint.
Such was the case with former teen heartthrob #DavidCassidy. I am unsurprised that so many say that whenever they encountered him, he was a lovely, charming man—such was his persona, and from what I gather from the various reports, such is who he was in reality as well—but I am saddened by what could have been.
In reality, I was just a touch too young to fully recall David Cassidy in his prime. I was not born until 1973, three-quarters of the way through what was the four-year run of The Partridge Family, but that does not mean I couldn't appreciate Cassidy's appeal. I also confess to a love of the song, "I Think I Love You," which I have been known to sing the chorus to, very loudly and very off-key, when it actually hits the radio.
This was a man who gave rise to a generation of adoring fans who, if they didn't want to date him, would want to marry him. With his broad smile and natural good looks, Cassidy was the "It Guy" of the 1970s, thanks to The Partridge Family. Much was certainly made of the fact that he was co-starring with his stepmother, Shirley Jones, although this was also probably a cause of some stress for the young actor, largely because he was second fiddle to Jones.
According to Toronto Star, Cassidy said of The Partridge Family, “I didn’t see how it could do much for me. After all, I wasn’t the star of it. Shirley had top billing; I was just one of the kids.”
As Cassidy got older—we certainly all fall victim to that—he seemed to cope with the trappings of fame with alcohol, and this undoubtedly haunted him the rest of his life. The raw talent was certainly there; the man could sing and knew how to captivate audiences everywhere, but three convictions for driving under the influence spoke very much to the struggles he was having behind the scenes. While we all notice the influence of age physically, Cassidy did not appear to age well, and all of us wanted to recall the cheerful good looks of Keith Partridge with every television appearance that Cassidy made through the 1980s and beyond—well past the prime of The Partridge Family.
It's hard to watch our idols age and succumb to their various demons, whether it be alcohol or drug related, or simply the result of the passage of time. Cassidy reported earlier in 2017 that he was struggling with dementia, the same illness that had gripped his mother and his grandfather, and was opting to take a step back from touring—a move that no doubt broke many of his fans' hearts. When the news broke that Cassidy was in hospital with multiple organ failure, I was saddened, like so many of us, but hopeful that Cassidy would somehow bounce back, as he had from so many of his other setbacks.
It was not to be, and while Cassidy was 67 when he died, I find myself trying to hang on to the image of him as Keith Partridge—young and vital. We all age; it's unavoidable. It's when the people who have, for one reason or another, become our idols that watching the physical changes they go through between aging and the demons they battle that it becomes painful. We don't want to see them or think of them as looking confused from the ravages of dementia or perhaps bloated from alcohol or drug abuse. We need to remember them as they were when we first idolized them—full of life and energy—so as not to lose the dreams they once sparked within us.