The Partridge Family – Sound Magazine (1971)

Making his debut on “The Partridge Family” in September 1970, David Cassidy would quickly become one of the biggest teen idols in the history of pop culture.

Even more exciting than going hunting for vinyl is finding the unexpected treasures that get stuck in the record sleeves unnoticed by the vinyl seller and forgotten long ago by the original owner of the record you have just purchased for your collection.  Ticket stubs and newspaper clippings, autographs and photos are rare and personal items that you just can’t find anywhere else and become like extra special treasures.  Some of the coolest items I’ve found in records sleeves include Jimi Hendrix ticket stubs, Monkees fan magazine clippings and Duran Duran stickers.  I love that kind of stuff, and I make it a habit of hiding neat little mementos in my own records so that, some day long after I am gone, some lucky collector is going to stumble across some really cool additional items corresponding to the record that they’ve purchased from my collection.

But the coolest unexpected treasure I ever found came inside a Partridge Family album.  In 2015 I was travelling just south of Toronto when I ended up a Value Village where I came across a copy of The Partridge Family’s third album “Sound Magazine.”  Partridge Family albums are staples at these types of thrift shops, and, in my opinion, some of the best albums that people just aren’t buying.  The copy of “Sound Magazine” was a nicer copy than the one I had in my collection at home, so I bought it.  It only cost two dollars, but what was hiding inside would prove to be priceless. 

Once I got it home, I took out the vinyl to play it to see how it sounded, but when I tried to put it back in the sleeve the record just wouldn’t go back in right.  I stuck my hand inside to see what was blocking it and found that jammed in the bottom of the sleeve was an old graying piece of lined paper.  Written lightly in pencil was a forgotten unsent fan letter from a little girl named Monica to teen idol, and Partridge Family front man, David Cassidy!  The letter read:

 “Dear David,

In one of the 16 Magazines I got, I read the article on Living with David by your roommate Sam. A lot of people may think that you don’t dress at all like that and that you get out of bed with something fancy on, but I really feel differently about it. I think its just great that for you to go around in comfortable clothes and it makes me love you even more than I do now (its pretty hard to get any higher).

Now that I’ve talked about that I really wrote to ask you a question. I’m getting braces sometime this month or next month even though my teeth aren’t really crooked at all. I just wanted to ask if it makes any difference to you if a girl wears braces because I’m worried about what the boys will say. No, I’m not boy crazy (not this year anyway) but I’m only in grade six and you know how much they like to tease girls. There driving me crazy now and I’ll probably loose my mind when I get my braces. Well, I’m getting nervous now. Just thinking about it so I’d better end my letter.

Please write back soon.

Your fan forever,

Monica

xxxx

PS – I have your third album now and I’m really enjoying it, but my friend said that you have a fourth album out now. I am looking for it, but I can’t find it. Is it true that you have one?”

In 2015 Sam Tweedle found a forgotten fan letter written by a sixth grade girl named Monica folded in a copy of a The Partridge Family’s “Sound Magazine.” Pictured here along with the October 1970 issue of “16 Magazine” featuring the first, of many, articles on David Cassidy.

My goodness.  Is that not precious?  Authentic fan letters could be one of the rarest pieces of rock n’ roll memorabilia of all to discover.  This letter might not be a memento of great value in a monetary sense, but an original unsent letter from a teenage girl circa 1971 to her idol is a unique primary source document of its own.  It reveals what a real little girl was thinking about at that moment in time, and it is so honest and raw and pure.  I personally find it a fascinating piece of rock n’ roll history.  How many teen girls over the decades have written letters just like this to their favorite stars?  Now, how many of them have survived for us to read today?  Not many.  During his time at the top of the teen idol hierarchy it was estimated that David Cassidy was getting 200 thousand letters a month from teen girls just like Monica.  You can bet he wasn’t reading all of them.  Most of them would have gone unread and probably ended up in landfills.  Perhaps a secretary sent something out to the fans via the return address, but not even the most well-meaning teen idol could handle that volume of mail personally.

“Living with David” was a regular feature running in “Tiger Beat Magazine” starting in 1971 credited to David Cassidy’s roommate and best friend Sam Hyman.

Now this letter was obviously written in conjunction with a teen magazine, but there is a glaring discrepancy within Monica’s narrative.  She cites “16 Magazine” as the magazine she bought, but the regular column “Living with David,” by Sam Hyman, was a feature which ran in “16’s” main competitor “Tiger Beat” around 1971.  I am betting that Monica bought so many of these teen magazines that she just didn’t know which one the article was in, or perhaps she didn’t realize they were published by two different companies.  Perhaps she’s just lumping all teen magazines under the heading “16” as a sort of genre.  Both “16 Magazine” and “Tiger Beat” published off shoot magazines under different titles and, honestly, they may have seen interchangeable to passive readers.  There is a lot of reasons why Monica could have been confused.


From the beginning both “16 Magazine” and “Tiger Beat” were battling over press on David Cassidy, who began appearing on the covers of the magazines in October 1970, a month after the premier of “The Partridge Family” on TV and the period between the release of “I Think I Love You” as a single and it moving to the top of the charts in December.

“David Cassidy: The Boy Who’s Going to Change Your Whole Life” from October 1970’s issue of “16 Magazine.”

“16 Magazine” first feature on David Cassidy was an introduction based on press material titled “Meet David Cassidy: The Boy Who’s Going to Change Your Whole Life.”  A bit of a big claim, but the publishers were on to something.  Although still a virtual unknown, his rise to the top of the teen idol hierarchy was going to be swift.  That hierarchy was measured by “16 Magazine” based on which teen heartthrob got the headline at the top of the magazine cover, which was known as “the banner.”   Previously the banner had belonged to The Monkees, who historically held the spot longer than any heart throb.  But in October 1970 it belonged to Bobby Sherman, with the sub-headline going to Barry “Greg Brady” Williams.  David got the third byline on the magazine which wasn’t too bad for a newcomer (other entertainers named on the cover were Jack Wild, Michael Cole, The Cowsills, The Osmond Brothers, The Jackson Five, Brandon Cruz, The Grass Roots, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Mark Lester and “The Dark Shadows Gang).  But that hierarchy would quickly shift.  A month later no one idol got the top banner, but David Cassidy moved up above previous banner leader Bobby Sherman and Barry Williams was clear out of sight.  By December 1970 David Cassidy held the banner on “16 Magazine’s” covers – a spot he’d hold for the next number of years as the biggest teen idol in the world.

David Cassidy makes his “Tiger Beat” debut in October 1970 with an article titled “Why is David Cassidy Afraid of the Future?” The answer….he could fail.

Over at Tiger Beat David shared the cover with much of the same celebrities as 16 Magazine.  Bobby Sherman had the top spot and Barry Williams, Jack Wild, Mark Lester, The Osmonds, Brandon Cruz and Mark Lindsay were named on the cover, along with Elvis, Kurt Russell and The Bugaloos.  But “Tiger Beat” introduced David Cassidy with a far more dramatic headline titled “Why is David Cassidy Afraid of the Future?”   Although it sounds heavy, the article was in actuality a ridiculous piece of non-journalism which took aim at the anxiety of new Partridge Family fans.  Without any input or even quotes from David Cassidy himself, who was obviously not contacted nor interviewed for the article, the nameless writer of the feature states that David Cassidy must be afraid of the future because there is a possibility that he will fail, and that his future depends on the teen reader who needs to support and love him to ensure that doesn’t happen.  Thus, if The Partridge Family and David Cassidy fails, it is the reader’s fault.  That’s some pretty shifty fan manipulation right three.  Wow.

Without the ratings of The Partridge Family even coming out yet, “Tiger Beat” was already on the bus and offering an exclusive book promising “24 intimate hours” with David Cassidy for only a buck,

Furthermore, “Tiger Beat” got on the Cassidy money making train real fast by offering a special book offered especially to “Tiger Beat” readers titled “The Secret of David Cassidy.”  For only one dollar, plus a quarter for shipping and handling, “Tiger Beat” would give readers an “24 intimate hours alone with him.”  The ad also already called Cassidy “the year’s biggest star.”  How legit was this book?  If it was anything like the feature article, probably not very.  But I’m sure the $1.25 helped lined publisher Chuck Laufer’s bank account a little.  But there was more!  The issue also included a colour pin up of Cassidy, more David in writer Anne Moses’ column, and even a story on Susan Dey!  Although the ratings for The Partridge Family hadn’t even come out yet, “Tiger Beat” seemed to be all in, and it would prove to pay off.


While both teen magazines featuring David Cassidy prominently each month, “Tiger Beat” would win the war of getting closest to Cassidy, especially after they recruited Sam Hyman as a sort of correspondent to David’s inner life.  So, who was Sam Hyman?  Well, Sam Hyman was to David Cassidy who Charlie Hodge was to Elvis Presley.  He was a lifelong friend, and at the time of the Partridge Family years, probably David’s closest constant companion.  When things got crazy for David, the one person he could rely on in his corner was Sam Human.

Best pals Sam Hyman and David Cassidy in 1971. Boy hood friend and house mates, Sam also acted as David’s merchandise manager for personal appearances and “Tiger Beat’s” ‘correspondent’ into David’s life.

Friends since elementary school, Hyman and Cassidy grew up together and did all the kind of things tapped in kids living in Los Angeles during the 1960’s did.  They went to the beach, picked up girls, surfed, listened to music and went to political protest rallies.  At one time they even started a garage band with David on drums and Sam on guitar.  After high school David went on to study acting while Sam started working as a film editor and when they both started getting paid gigs they decided to move out on their own and got a place together in Laurel Canyon.

Well, once the Partridge Family started things began to move fast for Cassidy, and Sam Hyman was brought aboard that magical psychedelic bus ride.  When teenage girls started showing up at their door, David and Sam were forced to move.  Then, when David started going out on tour, he talked his manager into allowing Sam to come along in the role of the merchandise manager.  In his autobiography “C’mon Get Happy,” David said that as he got more famous, and the fame began to isolate him, Sam became the person who helped ground him and keep him sane.

But by1971 fame was starting to get to David Cassidy.  While his ego liked the attention and star power, he was overworked and exhausted and was beginning to hate his “Keith Partridge” persona which he had to maintain, which conflicted with his actual real identity.  David Cassidy was not as clean or nice as Keith, and he liked a harder brand of music and much older women than the ones that were hanging his posters on their walls and seeing him in concert.  Furthermore, he was filming the Partridge Family during the day, recording the albums at night and flying across the country to do concerts on the weekends.  Cassidy was overworked and exhausted, and as a result didn’t like dealing with teen magazines.  So, when “Tiger Beat” approached Sam with the idea of doing a series of articles where he’d be the “insider” on David’s life, giving updates in what they were doing, David liked the idea as it was one less thing he needed to deal with.

How’s this for a contest? In December 1971 “Tiger Beat” gave real puppies born to David Cassidy and Sam Hyman’s dogs away to five lucky readers!

In reality Sam didn’t actually write the “Life with David” articles.  A “Tiger Beat” writer would call Sam who’d tell them a few things that they had done over the last few weeks, send some photos he had taken on the road, or of David and the dogs at home, and the writers would flesh it out into something far bigger.  There was little substance within the articles, but it seemed to be far more authentic than anything else being published about Cassidy anywhere else.  Furthermore, Sam put together a deal with “Tiger Beat” where he had one of their photos of David blown up and was selling it as the official David Cassidy poster at all of David’s shows with part of the profits going back to “Tiger Beat,.”  Meanwhile, when David and Sam’s dog Hashish mated with their new dog Sheesh, resulting in five puppies, they gave them away to “Tiger Beat” readers via a special giveaway.  All readers had to do was come up with the most original name, not to mention the signature of their parents, and the puppies were theirs.  Wow.  That’s one crazy piece of David Cassidy memorabilia right there!  You don’t get much closer to David than that!

David Cassidy and Sam Human would remain friends for the rest of David’s life. In his autobiography “C’mon Get Happy,” Cassidy credited Sam as keeping him “sane and grounded” during the high point of his fame.

Sam and David continued to live together right through the height of his popularity until Cassidy, exhausted emotionally and physically, called it quits on the Partridge Family in 1974.  The two would remain close friends, through the good times and bad, until David Cassidy’s death in 2017.  But during the hey day of Cassidy’s time at the top, Sam Hyman was Cassidy’s wing man, as well as his fandom’s best friend offering an insider’s look into the life of David Cassidy.

Now back to the letter. Far more interesting than Monica’s discourse on Sam’s write up on David’s fashion plate, lets get to the crux of what was on her mind – braces and boys.  In the 1970’s braces were like a kiss of death to the appearance of a tween girl, and although a lot of us boys didn’t even notice, a young girl just discovering boys while going through puberty often felt this was like a death sentence on their desirability.  The reality of Monica’s anxiety over getting braces is so real in this letter.

In Episode 15 Season 1 of “The Partridge Family” (“Old Scrapemouth”) Laurie Partridge got braces, but guest star Mark Hamill let her know he liked her for her personality and not her mouth.

Perhaps she missed the episode of “The Partridge Family” where Laurie got braces and could hear the Rolling Stones through her mouth via radio waves projected from guest star Mark Hamill’s transistor radio.  In all honesty, the braces did not hurt Susan Dey’s looks at the slightest, and, as Mark Hamill pointed out at the end, he liked her for her personality and not her looks always. Now, saying this to one of the most beautiful girls on television seems extraordinarily trite, but honestly, this is  how I remember boys feeling about this  at the time and if they didn’t, then they were little punks and Monica was better off not knowing them anyhow.

But honestly, its quite dear that she’d ask David Cassidy about this, despite the fact that he’d have been far beyond thinking about girls in braces, and I love that she says she’s not boy crazy because she’s only in grade six.  Obviously, she’s thinking about boys!  Now I’m not an expert on these things, and I don’t understand the inner working of tween girls nor am I a child psychologist, so I’m not even going to try to psychoanalyze any of this any further.  But I think that this is a raw and endearing insight in the mind of a young fan

David Cassidy performing in concert circa 1971. Still today Cassidy is remembered as one of the most important teen idols in cultural history.

Treasures come in many forms, as does rock n’ roll memorabilia.  Personally, I think this is one of my favorite items I have ever come across and its something I am so proud to be the keeper of.  I have kept it in the copy of “Sound Magazine” where I found it for safe keeping, right where Monica slipped it, and forgot it, over fifty years ago.  It may not be a historical document that will end up in an archive or library, but I think its priceless.

I don’t know who Monica was or whatever happened to her.  I Just hope she found love and is living her best life, that the braces didn’t disrupt things too much, and that she still has fond memories of David Cassidy each time she hears a Partridge Family song wherever she is today. I hope, just as she promised that she stayed David Cassidy’s “fan forever.”

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