On a Friday evening 45 years ago today, the ABC-TV series The Partridge Family made its series debut.
It ended an 18-month absence of a weekly music-oriented television sitcom aimed at teens, after The Monkees NBC series wrapped up its one and a half years, 58-episode run in March, 1968.
As with The Monkees being loosely based on The Beatles debut film, A Hard Day’s Night, ‘The Partridge Family’ was modeled after the real-life late 60’s musical family The Cowsills (The Rain, The Park & Other Things, Indian Lake, Hair).
The series lasted four seasons, from 1970-1974 (96 episodes). During the first three seasons it ranked #26, #16 and #19 respectively in the weekly ratings, and then outside the Top 30 in its final season.
The final Partridge Family episode aired on March 23, 1974.
The cast consisted of:
- Shirley Jones as Shirley Partridge (vocals, keyboards, tambourine, percussion)
- David Cassidy as Keith Partridge (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, electric lead guitars, banjo)
- Susan Dey as Laurie Partridge (vocals, harmony, piano, Hammond organ, percussion)
- Danny Bonaduce as Danny Partridge (vocals, bass guitar)
- Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris Partridge [Season 1] (vocals, drums)
- Brian Forster as Chris Partridge [Seasons 2–4] (vocals, drums)
- Suzanne Crough as Tracy Partridge (tambourine, percussion)
- Dave Madden as Reuben Kincaid (band manager)
- Ricky Segall as Ricky Stevens (Season 4) (singer)
WHEN WE’RE SINGIN’
The Partridge Family
[TV Theme Song for Season 1]
The role of drummer Chris Partridge was originally played by actor Jeremy Gelbwaks, who appears in these opening graphics. He left the show after just one season.
In the premiere episode, the Partridge siblings ask their mom Shirley to help them make a demo for a record label. Recording the song I Think I Love You, the family gets signed to a record deal and has a #1 record their first time out.
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[Note] Some audio song files may not play on smartphones, tablets or connected devices. A laptop, desktop PC or Mac may be required for optimal enjoyment.
The song was written by Tony Romeo and produced by record industry veteran Wes Farrell (who co-wrote the hits Boys/The Shirelles, Hang On Sloopy/The McCoys, Come A Little Bit Closer and Let’s Lock The Door (And Throw Away The Key)/Jay & The Americans and Come On Down To My Boat/Every Mother’s Son.
With the double clout of exposure from the TV show and heavy airplay on Top 40 radio, ‘I Think I Love You’ quickly became a #1 million-selling pop hit, holding down the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, beginning November 21, 1970. Would that make it a platinum (two-million) seller?
I THINK I LOVE YOU
The Partridge Family
Starring Shirley Jones Featuring David Cassidy
Other Top 20 hits by The Partridge Family include the million-selling Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted (1971 • #6), I’ll Meet You Halfway (1971 • #9), I Woke Up In Love This Morning (1971 • #13) and It’s One Of Those Nights (Yes Love) (1972 • #20).
Again, similar to The Monkees‘ series, top L.A. session players The Wrecking Crew – bassist Joe Osborn, drummer Hal Blaine, and keyboardist Larry Knechtel – were recruited to play on the Partridge Family hits. The ‘Crew’ can also be heard on the background music of the TV series.
Starting with season two, the show’s theme song had changed. Co-written by their record producer Wes Farrell, a new song called Come On Get Happy became the theme for the final three seasons.
Also, actor Brian Forster had replaced Jeremy Gelbwaks as Chris Partridge before the second season, and is seen here in the show’s new open.
COME ON GET HAPPY
[TV Theme Song for Seasons 2-4]
An un-aired pilot of The Partridge Family was filmed in December, 1969 – but differs from the version seen in the series opener on this date. In the pilot, Shirley’s name is “Connie”, and she has a boyfriend, played by Jack Cassidy, Jones’ real-life husband at the time – and David Cassidy’s father (making Shirley, David’s real-life step-mom).
They made the covers of TV Guide on October 17, 1970 and December 18, 1971
(Courtesy TV Guide)
On Christmas Day 1971, David Cassidy hit Billboard’s Top 10 as a solo artist (at #9) with his million-selling cover version of The Association‘s 1966 hit, Cherish; fellow teen heartthrob Michael Jackson was also in the Top 10 that week (at #5) with Got To Be There.
Cassidy appeared on TV Guide’s May 22, 1971 issue
(Courtesy TV Guide)
In May, 2005 The Partridge Family series began season-by-season releases on DVD. But, the complete series has just been re-released on DVD (9-22) as an 8-disc single set.