David Cassidy was adored by millions of fans, but the late ’70s superstar never had the career he wanted. That’s the opinion, at least, of Danny Bonaduce, Cassidy’s Partridge Family co-star and longtime friend. The Partridge Family alum reflected on his TV brother’s unintentional career in a column for the Hollywood Reporter a week after Cassidy’s death. David Cassidy died of multiple organ failure on Nov. 21 at age 67.
In the piece for THR, Bonaduce revealed that while he wasn’t close to David Cassidy during the filming of The Partridge Family in the early 1970s, the TV co-stars later formed a close friendship after Cassidy helped save Bonaduce’s career when he was at his lowest point. Unfortunately, David’s own career path may not have gone on the path he wanted.
While David Cassidy filled arenas with screaming fans during his heyday, boasting a fan club larger than Elvis and the Beatles combined, he was never taken seriously as a rock ‘n’ roll artist. Instead, David performed catchy pop tunes like “I Think I Love You” and “I Can Feel Your Heartbeat” at his sold-out shows. Cassidy tried to shed the bubblegum image with a racy 1972 Rolling Stone photo shoot and interview, but the teen idol adulation continued.
While Danny Bonaduce credits David Cassidy for saving his career—an offer to join the singer on tour earned Danny a radio hosting gig, and he’s been working ever since— he believes David sacrificed his own career dreams after being pigeonholed by his Partridge Family persona.
“When it came to his own career, David got robbed,” Bonaduce wrote.
“When he decided he didn’t want to be Keith Partridge anymore, he quit The Partridge Family. He wanted to go on tour and be a real rock ‘n’ roll star. But the road he chose to go down after the show, it didn’t go as far.”
Danny went on to say David “became” the Partridge Family theme song and “became the act of looking like David Cassidy, with the same thousand fans coming to every show.”
“He never did get the life he wanted,” Bonaduce said. “It really was a tragedy.”
Danny Bonaduce revealed that he was saddened by David Cassidy’s last words, which reportedly were, “So much wasted time.”
David Cassidy tried to be taken seriously as a rock musician from the get-go. In an interview with NJ.com, Cassidy revealed he even attempted to wow ABC executives with some rock riffs during his audition for the role of Keith Partridge.
“Even though the network and the studio didn’t care, I started off playing (the Jimi Hendrix song) ‘Voodoo Child,'” Cassidy said of his Partridge Family audition song.
While his Partridge Family hits shot him to superstardom, David wrote of his desire for a real rock career in his 1994 memoir, C’mon Get Happy: Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus. During an interview to promote the book, David talked about his overnight success as a teen idol, which featured a steady stream of Tiger Beat covers, sold-out stadium shows, and adoring groupies in every hotel lobby.
“I had everything I wanted – except creative expression,” Cassidy, according to the Star-Tribune.
“I created this total airhead. He was a bimbo, and people thought that was me. They don’t take you seriously if you appeal to young people, like it’s less important.”
While he didn’t get the rock career that he wanted, David defended his Keith Partridge alter ego in his later years, saying his ultimate career path was “God’s intent” for him.
“I feel very, very fortunate to have had all of the stars align to do that,” Cassidy told NJ.com. “Because I was able to not only become very successful, but to touch people’s lives and bring light into their lives.”
Check out David Cassidy playing hard rock riffs in a rare moment from the Partridge Family pilot below.