In May of 2016, my friend Deb called me and asked if I was interested in seeing David Cassidy at a small theatre in New Jersey that was about an hour from my house. Deb used to manage Davy Jones and her husband is a great guitar player who used to play with Davy and at that point was touring with Cassidy.
I love all kinds of music as evident from my radio show, and I do love the bubblegum hits of the 70’s and also very well versed in pop culture. The Partridge Family on TV was part of my childhood, and Cassidy was the love and crush of many a girl I knew, both older and younger as they got intro’d to him and the show via reruns and of course his Undercover show. But I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to drive an hour to see the show, sometimes the nostalgia stuff doesn’t really work all that well. I told Deb I’d get back to her.
One of my best friends and his wife live about 20 minutes from the theatre, I asked them if they were interested in going with me, it would be good to see them, have dinner and catch the show. My friend laughed and said no way. His wife grabbed the phone and said “we’re in!”
So we went. I had very low expectations, we got to say hello to David before the show, he was gracious and cool, and my friend’s wife was on cloud nine. We went to our seats. The show began.
It was nothing short of incredible. A mix of Partridge Family hits, some covers, including a BB King one with David wailing away on guitar, and an insanely deep cut from David’s “the Harder they Fall” album, called “Common Thief” and a slide show throughout with pix of David through the years including the naked Rolling Stone cover that had all of the ladies shrieking with joy.
I was blown away. I called Deb the next day to thank her and told how impressed I was and asked her if David would be interested in playing in the fall at a theatre and tie it into my anniversary. She said she’d ask David, who then called me the following weekend, where I interviewed him and he was all in on the fall show. It was a wonderful conversation and we covered a ton of ground (listen to it below), due to some tech issues the quality isn’t perfect but still worth listening to.
I then called my friends at the Count Basie Theatre and suggested I wanted to do an anniversary show with David Cassidy and two new local Punk bands opening. They of course thought I was delusional especially since David hadn’t done more than 500 people in any venue in the 2000’s, but we went ahead with it, and on a Thursday night before Halloween, almost 1200 people saw what would be David’s last ever appearance in the state he grew up in. It was a fun night, David would announce shortly thereafter his battle with Dementia which started to creep in and affect him like it did his mother and father. We had discussed the idea of him doing a Springsteen cover that night since there was a connection between one of his biggest hits and Bruce’s first managers, but he had told me that he’d have a difficult time remembering it, and somewhat let me in on his health issues and the dementia onset, which he’d announce shortly thereater.
I got to spend some time with David before the show as I picked him up at the hotel and we drove the venue together. We had some laughs and he over and over expressed his gratitude for putting the show together and was curious to see the opening punk bands.
David Cassidy was bigger than we could ever imagine, a TV star, a pop sensation, a teen idol who sold out arenas and stadiums, a rock star who shared a record label with Elvis and Bowie simultaneously, had a top 40 hit in the late 80’s and kept it rolling into the new Millennium. I am so glad I got to know him, spend time with him and host a show with him. He will be missed. I will miss him but thankfully he’ll live on forever via his records, his concert footage and his TV shows.
as a special treat for his fans, i’ve posted his entire show from that night in Red Bank, his last ever appearance in a state he once called home. thanks to Alberto Engeli for the fine video work. I have have some autographed posters i’ll make available for charity soon.