Susan Morrison: Teen war over David or Donny was brutal

They say that your friends remain fixed in your head at the age you first met them. It's true. I have pals who I am firmly convinced are only 17, which leaves me reeling when they announce the joyous news of the expected arrival of their third child. How can that be? Surely, they're still at secondary school? Mind you, in some parts of the country three kids by 17 might be a good batting average.

Friday, 24th November 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 2:03 am
Donny Osmond signs autographs for admiring fans. Picture: Getty
Donny Osmond signs autographs for admiring fans. Picture: Getty

It’s the same with celebrities. In my head, David Cassidy was always that thermonuclear smile and bouncy shampoo ad hair.

Back in the 1970s his very presence seemed to assure the world that America would ultimately prevail in the Cold War, since only capitalism could create such a consumer-friendly product for the teen market.

Of course, I was immune to the charms of the Cassidy, since I was an Osmond girl.

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David Cassidy performing in Manchester in 1974. Picture: PA

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Same megawatt smile and same shiny hair, only more of both. I’ve always been a girl that likes a choice in these matters.

Back in the days of clackers and flares, the world of the teen girl fan was fixed. You were either a follower of Donny or David. You could not be both. No idea why.

Bedroom walls had to be covered in posters with staple holes in the middle of either Cassidy or Osmond, ripped from the Jackie, unless you had saved your pocket money and gone to Woolworths to buy an Athena poster, which you then reverently stuck over the wallpaper with rubbish Sellotape or early Blu Tack which didn’t work very well. As a result, Donny or David would curl up in the middle of the night and fall off the wall with a remarkably loud noise for a tube of shiny paper, thus waking up your dad, who thought burglars were in the house and create mayhem. I know mine did.

David Cassidy performing in Manchester in 1974. Picture: PA

This sectarian divide was brutal. Walking through the school playground on the day teen magazine Fab 208 came out was a fraught experience. What if Cassidy was on the cover? Oh, those Cassidy gals would be vicious in their victory, sneering over the top of the magazine as they hogged the radiators at the end of the corridor in the cloakroom.

We could cluster round our schoolbags and take comfort in the fact that Donny wrote a letter to his fans every week which usually appeared on page 12. One up for our boy. David Cassidy, we reasoned, probably didn’t have the literary ability to pen a such a witty missive. Years later, I discovered that neither did Donny, since the letter was inevitably written by a staffer on the mag and the closest it got to the actual Donny Osmond was the ad for the fan club at the bottom of the page.

All in the past now, and so, sadly, is David Cassidy. In my head he stayed that near god-like young man, but, of course, time and music didn’t treat him well. Bankruptcy, divorce, and his health was damaged by an unhappy relationship with that old devil called drink.

I went back and listened to his songs. My teenage self would have slammed the door in my face in a tear-streaked tantrum for my traitorous thought, but David, you could sure sing. Thank you.