David Cassidy, the former teen idol whose role as Keith Partridge in the '70s sitcom The Partridge Family rocketed him to international stardom, died on Nov. 21 in a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., hospital after suffering from multiple organ failure. He was 67. Cassidy, who announced earlier in 2017 that he had been diagnosed with dementia, died surrounded by his family, according to a statement released by the family. "David died surrounded by those he loved, with joy in his heart and free from the pain that had gripped him for so long," the statement said. "Thank you for the abundance and support you have shown him these many years." Born in New York City in 1950, David was the son of actors Jack Cassidy and Evelyn Ward and half-brother of entertainer Shaun Cassidy. His parents split up when he was 5 and he would long express regret about his father, who soon married his future The Partridge Family co-star Shirley Jones, being mostly absent from his life. Cassidy stayed with his mother and by the early 1960s had moved to Los Angeles. After being expelled from high school for truancy, Cassidy dreamed of becoming an actor and had made appearances on such popular 1960s series as Bonanza and Ironside before producers at ABC television asked him to audition for The Partridge Family, unaware that he could sing and intending at first to have him mime songs to someone else's voice. David, who only learned during tryouts that his real life mother in law Jones would play his mother, later said he worried that Keith Partridge would be a "real comedown" from his previous roles. "I mean, how much could an actor do with a line like, 'Hi, Mom, I'm home from school,' or 'Please pass the milk?"' he wrote in his memoir. "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." Airing on ABC from 1970-1974, The Partridge Family was a fictional variation of the '60s family pop group The Cowsills, intended at first as a vehicle for Shirley Jones, the Oscar winning actress and Cassidy's stepmother. Jones played matriarch Shirley Partridge, a widow with five children with whom she forms a popular act that travels on a psychedelic bus. The cast also featured Cassidy as eldest son and family heartthrob Keith Partridge; Susan Dey, later of L.A. Law fame, as sibling Laurie Partridge, and Danny Bonaduce as sibling Danny Partridge. The Partridges' best known song, "I Think I Love You," spent three weeks on top of the Billboard chart, and the group also reached the top 10 with "I'll Meet You Halfway" and "Doesn't Somebody Want to be Wanted"; Cassidy had a solo hit with "Cherish." The singer went on to release 10 Partridge Family albums and five solo efforts while touring to sold-out crowds through the mid-1970s. His records sold an estimated 30 million worldwide, and at one point his fan club had more members than those of Elvis Presley and the Beatles. Feeling besieged by the attention of his female admirers, Cassidy quit The Partridge Family -- which ended its run in 1974 after 96 episodes -- and focused on recording a string of well-received albums for RCA Records, including 1975's The Higher They Climb and 1976's Home is Where the Heart Is, landing a hit in 1975 with "I Write the Songs," a track that would go on to become Barry Manilow's signature track. In December 1972, Cassidy consented to a cover story interview with Rolling Stone magazine in which he admitted to experimenting with marijuana and alcohol, and his appeal faded after the series went off the air, however he continued to tour, record and act over the next 40 years. Success overseas included "The Last Kiss," featuring backing vocals from Cassidy admirer George Michael. He made occasional stage and television appearances, including an Emmy-nominated performance on Police Story, in the 1980s, and toured with a variety of musical productions. In the late 1990s and early 2000s he joined the Las Vegas shows "EFX" and "At the Copa." Cassidy, by now thrice-married, continued touring until announcing his retirement in Feb. 2017, at which time he revealed he was suffering from non-Alzheimer's dementia. Meanwhile, The Partridge Family remained popular in re-runs and Cassidy, who kept his dark bangs and boyish appearance well into middle age, frequently turned up for reunions and spoke often about his early success. "So many people come up to me and talk to me about the impact it (the show) had," he told Arsenio Hall in 1990. Through ups and downs, including well-documented struggles with alcohol and a series of DUI arrests in the 2000s, Cassidy maintained the kind of sunny demeanor that had endeared him to a generation of fans. "I'm an optimist. I mean, you have to be with my career," he said in his official bio. "I've never gone out and changed my style to suit the times. I have always stayed true to myself by using the work ethic my father instilled in me, to strive for the best musically, theatrically, as well as in producing and writing. He taught me to be fearless about revealing the frailties and strengths of the human experience. Bringing that human element to my work is the most important thing I can do as an entertainer." Earlier in 2017, Cassidy shared that at age 66, his health was starting to fail, and told People magazine in February that he had been diagnosed with dementia. "I was in denial, but part of me always knew this was coming," the performer told the magazine. His grandfather and his mother both had dementia, he told the magazine. Signs of the illness had already begun to show in Cassidy's performances. During a concert in Agoura Hills, Calif., earlier this year, the former teen idol was witnessed forgetting lyrics to songs he had been performing for years. Because of his diagnosis, Cassidy stopped touring earlier in 2017, saying he wanted to focus on his health. The flood of tributes to Cassidy on Twitter include posts from the likes of Brian Wilson, Marie Osmond, Gloria Gaynor, Rick Springfield, Richard Marx, Tom Arnold and Larry King. - Associated Press/Billboard, 11/22/17.
The widow of a lawyer who represented the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Sonny and Cher, and other classic rock musicians is auctioning off several rare items of memorabilia through a Reno, Nev., art gallery and auction house from Nov. 22 through Dec. 9. Hal and Jesse Kant's memorabilia collection includes signed artwork by Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia, and backstage passes from concerts spanning 30 years. Some of the more than 100 items, which also include a colorful set of banners used as the backdrops for 88 GD concerts around the world and a poster from a Lake Tahoe show in 1968, could go for as much as $100,000 in the online auction conducted by Stremmel Auctions. - AP, 11/19/17...... The Eagles announced on Nov. 21 that they'll kick off a 12-city 2018 tour on Mar. 14 in Chicago, with a rotating group of high-profile opening acts including Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor and Chris Stapleton joining the tour for stadium dates later. In addition to the "Evening with the Eagles" arena concerts in Chicago, Nashville (3/23), Vancouver (5/10), Toronto (7/15) and Boston (7/20) with no opener on the bill, the Eagles will be supported by Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band in Orlando, Fla. (4/14), Miami (4/21), Denver (6/28) and Minneapolis (6/30). James Taylor and his All-Star Band will open for the band in Washington, D.C., on July 26, and in Philadelphia on July 28. Chris Stapleton will be the opener at the Eagles' show in Arlington, Tex. on June 23. The Eagles' 2014 "History of the Eagles Tour," which was deemed their final-ever outing, sold out Madison Square Garden five times and broke several U.S. box office records. - Billboard, 11/21/17...... Surviving Steely Dan member Donald Fagen has filed a lawsuit against the estate of his recently deceased bandmate Walter Becker in an effort to keep the band's name and music alive. At the center of the lawsuit is a 1972 Buy/Sell Agreement signed by the original bandmembers when Steely Dan was incorporated. According to the complaint, which was filed on Nov. 21 in L.A. County Superior Court, the contract provides that whenever a member of the group quits or dies Steely Dan purchases all of that members shares in the group. "By the 2010s, Fagen and Becker were the only remaining shareholders and signatories to the Buy/Sell Agreement," the lawsuit states. Four days after Becker's death, on Sept. 7, 2017, the Becker Defendants sent Fagen a letter stating that 'We wanted to put you on notice that the Buy/Sell Agreement dated as of Oct. 31, 1972 is of no force or effect.'" The letter also sought to appoint Becker's widow as an officer of Steely Dan and demanded 50% ownership, according to the complaint. Fagen also says the Becker defendants currently operate the band's website and refuse to relinquish or share control of it. Fagen is also suing the group's business management firm, Nigro, Karlin, Segal, Feldstein & Bolno in an effort to obtain an accounting, claiming the firm has been withholding records. Fagen is seeking upwards of $1 million in damages and is asking the court for a declaratory judgment that the "Buy/Sell" provision is valid and enforceable, and that he is the sole owner of the Steely Dan name and all rights associated with it. Fagen's lawyer, Skip Miller, says the lawsuit is "about a contract, the enforcement of that contract and the continuity of Steely Dan... We think the contract is very clear on its face and we hope this lawsuit is resolved expeditiously." - The Hollywood Reporter, 11/21/17...... Stevie Wonder has announced the lineup for his 2017 House Full of Toys Benefit Concert at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Dec. 10. Joining Wonder in this year's 21st edition of the charity benefit is "Rise Up" singer Andra Day along with Pharrell Williams, Dave Matthews, Savion Glover and Tony Bennett. Even though House Full of Toys will be celebrating 21 years, the joy of giving in the spirit of song will make this night such pleasured fun for the old and young," Wonder says in a statement. The event encourages concertgoers to bring unwrapped toys and gifts of joy for families in need, children and individuals with disabilities. - Billboard, 11/20/17...... In other Motown-related news, Diana Ross accepted a Lifetime Achievemet Award at the 2017 American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Nov. 19. After a montage of Ross' accomplishments, including her performance at Super Bowl XXX and performing "Endless Love" with Lionel Richie at the 1982 Academy Awards, Ross strutted onstage in a puffy purple dress and performed "I'm Coming Out," "Take Me Higher," "Ease on Down the Road," "Best Years of My Life" and "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Once her set concluded, a "humbled" Diana watched her family walk onto the stage to present her with the lifetime achievement award that capped the show. "With integrity, grace and generosity you've blazed a way," said Rhonda Ross-Kendrick, the singer's daughter, before allowing her mother to thank her all avid supporters. - Billboard, 11/19/17...... Sons of late iconic rock 'n' roll singer/songwriter Roy Orbison have filed a complaint in New York state court against Hologram USA, claiming the company failed to keep up its end of a deal for a Roy Orbison hologram show and is now interfering with their efforts to create one with a new partner. According to the complaint, Hologram USA approached Orbison's sons in 2014 about creating a 90-minute performance by an Orbison hologram. Under their deal, a prototype was to be delivered for review within 9 months. By Oct. 2016, Roy's Boys still hadn't seen one and sent Hologram USA a notice of termination. Then this spring, Orbison's sons formed a new partnership with another company called BASE Holograms, and in the fall it announced tours in both the United Kingdom and Australia. Hologram USA wasn't thrilled, and disputed the termination. Orbison's sons are asking the court for a declaration that its agreement with Hologram USA was properly terminated and for an injunction barring the company from using any Roy Orbison trademarks or intellectual property. - Billboard, 11/21/17...... Neil Young has announced a one-off intimate homecoming show called "Somewhere in Canada," in a yet-to-be-determined venue with a capacity of about 200. Young, 72, was born in Toronto, but spent some teen years in Winnipeg where he started his first band. He returned to Toronto in the mid-60s for a spell before relocating to the U.S. in the late 60s. The show, which will take place on Dec. 1, is being directed by Young's actress girlfriend, Daryl Hannah, in partnership with his Shakey Pictures. It will be live streamed in Canada on CTV.ca and iHeartRadio's Secret Sessions, and worldwide on Facebook. - Billboard, 11/21/17...... Former AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson issued a statement on Nov. 20 that paid emotional tribute to late AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young, who died on Nov. 18 after a three-year battle with dementia. "I am saddened by the passing of my friend Malcolm Young, I can't believe he's gone. We had such great times on the road. He has left a legacy that I don't think many can match," Johnson posted on his official website. "He never liked the celebrity side of fame, he was too humble for that. He was the man who created AC/DC because he said 'there was no Rock'n'Roll out there.' I am proud to have known him and call him a friend, and I'm going to miss him so much," Johnson added. Johnson joined AC/DC in 1980 following the death of Bon Scott and retired from performing live in 2016. - New Musical Express, 11/20/17....... In author David Yaffe's new Joni Mitchell biography Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell, the singer cooperates with a biographer for the first time. Yaffe, a Syracuse Univ. professor and author of books on jazz and Bob Dylan, had unprecedented access to Mitchell, and he sympathetically traces the outline of her life while offering detailed takes on her albums, and even on her chord changes. But it's Mitchell's candor, in which she recalls such incidents as a late-life miscarriage, her cocaine addiction, and turbulent romantic relationships, that propels the book. - Rolling Stone, 11/16/17...... Rock photographer Neal Preston's new book Exhilarated and Exhausted contains images of his time with such '70s superstars as Led Zeppelin and Elton John, along with stories about the realities of his job, such as nervously approaching Bruce Springsteen to pose for his camera during a concert performance (he did), and Bob Dylan calling him a "leech" at a 1970s industry party. - Rolling Stone, 11/16/17...... Art Garfunkel's new biography What Is It All But Luminous: Notes From an Underground Man is a book unlike any ever released by a rock star. Short segments about Simon and Garfunkel float alongside lists of favorite books and quotes from Shakespeare and Marvin Gaye. Among the poems is one about gettiing a colonic. - Rolling Stone, 11/16/17...... Rolling Stone contributor Anthony DeCurtis's new Lou Reed biography, Lou Reed: A Life, is an exhaustively reported book about a brilliant artist who helped define hipness and the outer limits of rock for generations, fulfilling his goal of fusing the "high literary world with gritty rock & roll." - Rolling Stone, 11/16/17...... Actress Ann Wedgworth, the sexy actress with the whispery voice known for her underrated work in films including Scarecrow and Sweet Dreams as well as a short stint on the ABC sitcom Three's Company, died on Nov. 16 after a long illness in a nursing home not far from her home in New York City. She was 83. In 1978, the Texas native won the Tony Award for best featured actress in a play for her portrayal of the witty best friend of a soap opera actress who hesitates to date again in Neil Simon's "Chapter Two," directed by Herbert Ross. Ms. Wedgeworth became best known for her role as divorcee Lana Shields in Three’s Company, after performing in numerous soap operas like The Edge of Night and Another World. Her character was written out of Three’s Company after only nine episodes with little explanation. She went on to star in CBS’s Evening Shade starting in 1989, which was her longest role. She played Merleen Eldridge, the wife of small town doctor Harlan Eldrige. Ms. Wedgeworth was married to actor and voice artist Rip Torn from 1955 to 1961, with whom she has one daughter. In 1970, she married acting coach Ernest Martin, with whom she had another daughter and stepson. She is survived by Martin, her two daughters, and her stepson. - Variety, 11/18/17...... Country music star Mel Tillis, who wrote more than 1,000 songs throughout his career, including "Detroit City" for Bobby Bare, as well as his own hits "Good Woman Blues," "Heart Healer" and "Coca Cola Cowboy," died at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Fla., on Nov. 19. He was 85. Mr. Tillis had been battling intestinal issues since 2016, according to his spokesman, and the suspected cause of death was respiratory failure. Born Lonnie Melvin Tillis in Tampa, Fla., Mr. Tillis suffered a spell of malaria as a boy that left him with a chronic stutter. His stutter became a trademark that Tillis mined for laughs, although it disappeared when he sang. In an interview with People magazine in 1976, Mr. Tillis said performing helped him overcome his stutter. "The more I go onstage," he said, "and feel my independence and that power over audiences, the less I stutter." His commercial peak came in the 1970s when he had a string of top 10 C&W hits. In 1998, he became spokesman and honorary chairman of the Stuttering Foundation of America, according to his website. Mr. Tillis also had something of an acting career, with small roles in a number of films such as The Cannonball Run and Smokey and the Bandit II. He also made a TV appearance in an episode of The Dukes of Hazzard in the late '70s. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2007, and in Feb. 2012 Pres. Barack Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts -- the highest honor given to artists by the US government. - CNN, 11/19/17...... Della Reese, the jazz, gospel and pop singing legend who later moved into TV and film, died on Nov. 20 at age 86. Ms. Reese turned to television and film starting in the late 1960s, hosting her own talk show Della, and later starring opposite Redd Foxx in Harlem Nights (1989), Martin Lawrence in A Thin Line Between Love and Hate (1996) and Elliott Gould in Expecting Mary (2010). She also starred as Tess on Touched By an Angel, and her most recent television appearance was earlier this year on Bates Motel. - Deadline.com, 11/20/17...... Warren "Pete" Moore, an original member of the legendary Motown singing group The Miracles, died on Nov. 19 of as yet undisclosed causes, He was 78. Moore served as co-writer on many of the Miracles' singles, including their classic "The Tracks of My Tears," "Ooo Baby Baby," "My Girl Has Gone" and "Love Machine," as well as hits by Motown artists like Marvin Gaye ("Ain't That Peculiar," "I'll Be Doggone") and the Temptations' ("Since I Lost My Baby") Moore also produced the Miracles' "Here I Go Again" and "Baby Baby Don't Cry." After frontman Smokey Robinson left the Miracles in 1971, Moore remained with the group until their dissolution in 1978. In 2012, Moore was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside The Miracles. - 11/20/17...... George Avakian, a record producer and talent scout who played a key role in the early careers of Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, Keith Jarrett and Bob Newhart, among many others, died on Nov. 22 at his home in on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was 98. Mr. Avakian brought The Everly Brothers to Warner Bros.' newly formed record label in 1959, and signed a young humorist named Bob Newhart, who had been working as an accountant in Chicago and moonlighting as a radio performer but had never performed for a live audience. Newhart's first album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, became one of the best-selling comedy records of all time. - 11/22/17...... Infamous cult leader Charles Manson, who shocked the world in 1969 after his "Manson Family" committed the murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight other victims on his orders, died of natural causes on Nov. 19 in a Bakersfield, Calif., hospital, according to the California Department of Corrections. He was 83. On Aug. 9, 1969, actress Tate was found stabbed to death in her Hollywood home, while other victims included celebrity hair stylist Jay Sebring and coffee empire heiress Abigail Folger. When police investigated the deaths, they discovered that Manson had sent his followers to commit the murders as part of a sickening belief that it would start a race war which had been prophesied in the 1968 song "Helter Skelter" by the Beatles. After being sentenced to death in 1971, Manson's conviction was eventually commuted into a life sentence, with him remaining imprisoned in California until his death. Before the murders, the Ohio-born Manson also spent time as a singer-songwriter on the L.A. music scene, and several recordings of his music have been released over the years to capitalize on his notoriety -- most recently, it was revealed that some of Manson's prison recordings were set for another release. An album of Manson's music originally released in 1970 called Lie: The Love and Terror Cult failed miserably in a commercial sense, but remains a popular cult collectible among those who are interested in the Manson murders. The album cover virtually recreates the Dec. 19, 1969 cover of Life magazine, which featured Manson; only the "F" in "LIFE" and the line "The dark edge of hippie life" were removed. Manson also lived with Beach Boys member Dennis Wilson at one point, and co-wrote a Beach Boys song. However Manson didn't appreciate Wilson's producers tampering with his music and eventually pulled a knife during the sessions, souring the relationship. - NME/Billboard, 11/20/17.