In the early 1970s, a tv show blurred the lines with pop music – since its premise was about a family that created a band and went on the road.
The Patridge Family debuted on ABC TV in 1970, created by Bernard Slater. The show was based on the real life 1960s music family The Cowsills.
Starring Shirley Jones as the widowed Shirley Partridge, The Partridge Family was made up Jones as the Mum, David Cassidy as Keith, Susan Dey as Laurie, Danny Bonaduce as Danny, Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris and Suzanne Crough as Tracy.
Recording a song in the family garage, the family’s song is flogged by their manager, Danny to Reuben Kincaid, played by Dave Madden, who would eventually become the family manager.
Painting a school bus in Mondrian colours, The Patridge Family went on the road, and dealt with the daily issues of being five siblings. Consequent seasons dealt mainly with the life of a show business family at home.
Each family member was integral to the unique sound of the family – and their lives crossed over into the radio charts with the tv show’s theme song – “Come on Get Happy” became a popular request.
But their biggest hit from 1970 was “I Think I Love You”, which also led to the pop idol status of oldest Partridge, David Cassidy, who was also Shirley Jones’ stepson.
As the show continued with songs written for them and performed by the Wrecking Crew behind the scenes, Cassidy and Jones were the only two stars who actually sang on the recordings. Meanwhile David Cassidy became the darling of Teen Beat and Tiger Beat magazines, and a popular poster pinup of teen girls of the early 1970s.
In 1972, Cassidy was trying to distance himself from the squeaky clean persona of Keith Partridge, but it was the show that kept his popularity growing. By spring 1974, the series ended.
As a young child I saw re-runs of the show, and watched it as much for the antics of siblings (which I was fascinated with, since I had none) and for the musical number that ended each show. I always remember Danny waking up Reuben, who wore a sleeping mask, which I had never seen anyone do.
Despite the show’s creation for television, The Partridge Family crossed over into pop culture triple threat – tv, music and forever as an pop icon for its unique style.