Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images
Former teen heartthrob David Cassidy revealed he has dementia just days after the singer appeared to slur his words and fall off the stage during a southern California concert on Saturday.
He broke the news to People magazine, saying, “I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming.”
Cassidy’s grandfather as well as his mother, the late actress Evelyn Ward, also suffered from dementia.
The 66-year-old former star of “The Partridge Family” told People that he would stop touring as a musician. “I want to focus on what I am, who I am and how I’ve been without any distractions. I want to love. I want to enjoy life,” he said.
Cassidy apparently decided to go public with his diagnosis because he didn’t want people to think he was drunk during his performance last weekend. After a video surfaced that showed Cassidy slurring his words and forgetting lyrics he’d sung for decades, rumors began swirling that he had fallen off the wagon.
Cassidy has long been open about his struggle with alcoholism. He told Piers Morgan in 2014, “If I take another drink, I’m going to die, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I’m dead. You know, they say it’s a slippery slope … It’s not a slippery slope. It’s from 12:00 to 6:00 on the clock and the whole face is ice. One sip, one drink, because there is no such a thing, not to an alcoholic. You have one and you’re – you’re done. I’d be done.”
In recent years, he’s been in the news more for his personal struggles than for his performances. He faced three drunken driving charges, in November 2010, August 2013 and January 2014. A month later, his third wife, Sue Shifrin-Cassidy, filed for divorce. Cassidy filed for bankruptcy and in October 2015 was charged following a hit-and-run accident.
After a 50-year career, the ’70s pop star had said recently that he would retire at the end of this year. On his website, he said, “traveling and my arthritis” have made performing around the country difficult. He added, “What a remarkable, long-lived career I have been blessed to have.”
Of his mother’s struggles, Cassidy has said: “In the end, the only way I knew she recognized me is with one single tear that would drop from her eye every time I walked into the room … I feared I would end up that way.”
Shortly before the death of his mother in December 2012, Cassidy spoke to AgingCare.com about her struggle with the memory-robbing disease.
“Mom was a wonderful singer, actress, and dancer. So full of life. To watch someone who raised you who was so vibrant [decline] is the most painful thing I ever experienced,” he said.
He added that when he became aware of his mother’s true mental decline, he “broke down. I couldn’t control my weeping for days and nights.”
To help other people avoid this scary situation, Cassidy has worked in recent years to raise awareness of the disease, which he referred to as an "epidemic."