If you were going to invent a teen idol for American teens in the 1970s, you’d have to come up with something like Shaun Cassidy: nineteen-years-old, blonde, Southern Californian.
Clothes fit him as the designers intended, the tops open just enough to expose a couple of inches of a hairless chest, and a waterfall of blonde hair that seems to have grown already styled: to brush or comb it would be an outrageous redundancy.
In 1976 Cassidy was unknown. By mid-1978, he had three Top Ten singles – Da Doo Ron Ron, That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll and Hey Deanie – all of which sold more than a million copies.
His two albums, Shaun Cassidy and Born Late went platinum (the former selling over 3 million copies), and the TV show Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries in which he starred as teenage detective Joe Hardy was the first ABC program in 20 years to get better ratings than Walt Disney.
His mother is actress Shirley Jones, star of The Partridge Family, his late father Jack Cassidy was a film and TV actor, and his half-brother, David Cassidy, was the teen idol of the early Seventies, as Keith Partridge also of the Partridge Family.
Shaun Cassidy began writing songs when he was eleven. By the time he was 13 he joined a band called Longfellow, but his parents were concerned that his engrossment in music would jeopardise his schooling and packed him off to a boarding school in Pennsylvania for his sophomore year.
Returning to California, he eventually graduated from Beverly Hills High School, and the Cassidy family manager arranged for Shaun to audition for Warner Records in late 1975.
His first single, Morning Girl, was released first in Holland, then the rest of Europe. It wasn’t released in the US until his first LP came out in 1977, more than a year later. Morning Girl (a Dutch hit) was followed by That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll which was a Top Ten smash in both Germany and Australia.
Cassidy auditioned for Hardy Boys believing it to be a Movie of the Week and not realising it was going to be a series. Shortly thereafter, Da Doo Ron Ron was released and went to #1 in America.