Cassidy Lights Up With Ronson
23 October 1976
by Chris Charlesworth
DAVID Cassidy is to form a band with Mick Ronson, the British guitarist, whose services as a freelance player are much in demand these days. To qualify the situation, Cassidy passed through New York this week to rehearse with his new buddy and begin the arduous task of settling the business end of such a venture.
It is the first tentative step on the road to make Cassidy a serious, respected- musician after his long gone days as a teen idol. Cassidy has taken a back seat during the past two years, deliberately staying off the road and mixing with respected rock musicians who seem eager to assist this often-misunderstood young man.
After his musical flirtation with Bruce Johnston, the former Beach Boy, Cassidy spent time this summer at the Caribou Ranch studios in Denver where he has recorded a new album with a variety of musicians that reads like a guest list to the most sumptuous back-stage party.
The first evidence of what the album contains is a single 'Gettin'It In The Street', a gritty little rocker that nods respectfully towards John Lennon with its pounding keyboard riff and rather dreamy middle eight.
How did he get involved with Ronson?
'Well … Mick came up to the studios and played on a couple of tracks on the album, and he helped me a lot. We talked about forming a band, and I've been hanging out with him and playing a lot.'
'It happens that he wanted to go out on the road again and I want to play some dates but at this point we realized that unless it is great, we don't want to do it. When you throw two people like him and I together it draws a lot of interest and unless it is incredible, we don't want to know, he told me.'
'It's difficult because we're not hiring each other, we're just real good friends and the most important thing is to keep that. The friendship is more important than going on the road together.'
'Neither of us wants to make a commitment to anything unless it is really right, but we think it will more than likely come together. It's just going to take some time, but because we are friends and because there's money involved and because there are managers involved, it clutters things up.'
'It's not just playing unfortunately, so we are easing into it very gradually. We'll be - playing all this week, rehearsing and playing some tunes together to see how it goes.'
Ronson had expressed a wish to produce Cassidy before he became involved with the Rolling Thunder Revue, and will now produce Cassidy's next album, an album they may even make a joint project.
'We both have too much to lose unless it's great, and before we commit ourselves to doing a tour in six months or whatever, we want to be sure it's going to be everything we want it to be. Mick doesn't want to get involved in a one-tour situation and nor do I. Both of us want to get involved in something that's more than that … something that will help us evolve as artists.'
Cassidy's album will be released in January and by that time he hopes to have his band together to tour and support it live.
'It's been two-and-a-half years since I last performed on stage, so I need to get out again', he continued. 'Before, when I toured, I had no one on stage that I could get any feedback from. When I went out, it was like me on there and no one else. Everyone else was just hired for the night. Now I want a situation where there's real musical feedback going on. I want a situation where the others on stage aren't there just to make money, and Mick is in the same situation.'
'I can't just go out and look for a bass player or a drummer to use for a tour now. I want a situation where people aren't just going to come and see me, but they are going to come because they know there's some good music to be heard. I don't want to go out and play every song and I don't want to play every solo, I want to be able to sit back and let others take it for a while, I want to be part of an entity not just me. The main thing, though, is that Mick and I are good friends and we won't let managers and business come between us.'
The album will be the first record on which Cassidy has had total artistic control, but more than that, he says, it is his first record that has real energy from the musicians involved.
'Everybody was into it. They were not hired people but friends of mine and we went up there as a band who wanted to make it work. Everybody cared about me and the music and they didn't just go up to do session work.'
It was Cassidy's own decision to back off from the music industry two years ago, mainly because of the pressures of being a teen idol but also because he simply realized that he didn't like what he was involved in.
'I just needed to get away from all of it, stop touring, stop doing television, stop doing promotion, stop doing all of that stuff. It was too heavy for me and I needed to get a perspective on where my career was going. I mean … I'm not working for money and fortunately I don't have to work for money, which is a luxury, but my attitude now is that I want to get to the people and play. It took me a long time before I realized I could do that properly.'
'I want to be able to go out and not have everybody come to hear the old songs, although it would be ridiculous for me to go out and play a set that no one was familiar with. I'll do one or two of the things that I liked because there were a couple or so that weren't too bad, but with most of them I didn't have any control. I was in a situation that didn't represent me at all.'
'I feel like I'm starting all over again and that feels good. It's a lot different and it's a lot stronger. For the first time in my life I'm proud of what I'm doing, and other musicians are turning around and they like it too. That never happened before.'
It wasn't Cassidy's deliberate plan to change his image but to simply get away from being a teen hero. He had, he says, changed a lot during his four or five years as Keith Partridge of the Partridge Family, the TV series which, incidentally, is still broadcast in this country.
'I think I've been away from it long enough now for people to realize that I've evolved from those days. Regardless of whether people hate or like what I'm doing, at least it's me.'