SPIRIT: Drummer Cassidy Dies at 89
Ed Cassidy, the drummer of the California-based group Spirit, has died. Known for his shaved head and all-black clothing, his passing is notable because at 89, Cassidy was almost surely the oldest rock musician from a '60s band. In fact, he was a older than any of the charter members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, all of who began recording in the early '50s.
Born in 1923, Cassidy got his start playing jazz and joined his first band in 1937. In the early '60s he migrated to rock, playing first with The Rising Sons, an L.A. band that included Ry Cooder and Taj Mahal. He and his stepson, Randy California, then started a band that in 1967 took the name Spirit. Their biggest hit, "I Got a Line on You," went Top 25 in 1968 and other songs like "Nature's Way" and "1984" became early FM radio staples.
Cassidy told us he felt the band were never properly produced, and that all their records paled compared to their live performances. "Here's this radical, rock 'n' roll underground band out there going bananas and they're making us sound like The Association."
Cassidy stayed with Spirit through many incarnations until 1997, when California drowned trying to rescue his son off the coast of Hawaii.