16 Magazine, Bay City Rollers, Beliebers, blast from the past, CNE Stadium, David Jolliffe, Jack Lord, Justin Bieber, Kodak 110 camera, Parker Stevenson, People Magazine, Rock's Biggest Ten, Room 222, Shaun Cassidy, teen idol, teen idols of the 70s, The Hardy Boys, Tiger Beat, Young Poets of Canada
Once upon a time, way way back in 1978, your moms or maybe even your grandmas used to have crushes on teen idols too. For this 48 year old woman, the sun rose and set on The Hardy Boys’ star: bubblegum pop singing sensation, Shaun Cassidy, who today is 53, a successful television producer and the father of seven children from three different marriages! Yes, my bedroom walls were covered in posters of him and I collected at least a dozen binders full of teen magazine articles and posters on The Hardy Boys that I kept until I was in my late 30s when I finally threw them all in a dumpster.
The other day, one of my longtime close friends, Vicki, sent me the most delightful package in the mail. It was a pristine copy of the May 15, 1978 issue of People magazine (back when it used to be good!) featuring Shaun Cassidy on its cover (PDF at the link). Ever since I took it out of the package and flipped through the magazine, I’ve been taking a walk down memory lane with a big, silly grin on my face.
You see, Shaun Cassidy was a really big deal for me – and millions of other teens of the 70s – when I was 14 years old, just like Justin Bieber is to tweens today. Although he wasn’t my first celebrity crush (that honour went to Jack Lord of Hawaii Five-0), he was my biggest and he was also the reason that my BFF of 36 years, Jennifer Amy, and I bonded in the school yard at recess. Once we discovered that we were both huge fans of The Hardy Boys television series on ABC, we became inseparable. Jen preferred older, preppy Parker Stevenson while I couldn’t stop gushing over the younger, baby-faced, feather-haired Shaun. Lifelong friendships have probably been based on less, but we have lots in common that keeps us interested in regular two hour telephone conversations to this day.
The first concert I ever attended was Shaun Cassidy at CNE Stadium in the summer of 1978. My mother let me go with Jen on the Great Canadian Rock Tours bus to Toronto to see my beloved teen idol and to this day, Jen and I still remember how it felt to sit in the stadium and listen to tens of thousands of teenage girls scream their hearts out when he sang “Da Doo Ron Ron”, “Hey Deanie”, and “That’s Rock & Roll”.
I went to see Shaun a second time in August of 1979 with another good friend, my next door neighbour, Janice Rowe, who is also still a close friend to this day. She was a huge Bay City Rollers fan and a little older than me, but she humoured me and came along because I wasn’t allowed to go to Toronto by myself. We hung around by the gates to the entrance of the stadium hoping to spot Shaun but the most I ever succeeded in was meeting his best friends, Room 222 star David Jolliffe and Cloris Leachman’s son, George Englund Jr. (who I just discovered in my research dated Sharon Stone!). They were kind to Shaun’s fans and even gave me their autograph.
I used to write to pen pals who I discovered through the teen magazines and one of them was fortunate enough to get some decent snapshots of Shaun in concert at the Ohio State Fair in August 1979 so I bought some from her with my babysitting money. I never got close enough to the stage in Toronto to take any kind of clear shots, although I do have some of those old Kodak 110 camera blurry snaps of the stage with a centimeter-high band in them.
I was so inspired by young Cassidy that I wrote my very first poem about him when I was 14, simply entitled “Shaun”. To my great surprise it was published in 16 Magazine and Scholastic Book Services’ Rock’s Biggest Ten (if anyone out there has a copy of this book published in 1979 by David Dachs, I’d love to buy it!). Years later, after I’d been writing way better poetry for quite some time, I was approached by Young Poets of Canada about writing an article called “What It’s Like To Be A Young Poet” and you can still find it online. I also wrote a mystery novella called The End of Our Rainbow, about Jen’s and my adventures with Shaun & Parker. My high school pals read and reviewed it for me and I still have the original typed copy of it with pictures cut out of Tiger Beat magazine and handwritten comments by my friends. It’s ultra melodramatic and totally HILARIOUS!! So you see, my teen idol crush inspired me to write and I still write today. I’m also still a huge music fan who gets regular crushes on different singing sensations, only now they’re considerably older than 19!