updated 07/27/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 07/27/1992 AT 01:00 AM EDT
It was a gasp that lasted. During the show's four-season run, Cassidy sold more than 20 million albums and pulled in millions of dollars more in merchandise bearing his likeness. His effect on prepubescents was so magnetic that some hotels banned him as a security risk, and he had to be smuggled in and out of his concerts to avoid being fan-handled. "You can't capture the public's imagination," he says. "It captures you."
Trapped in the glare of celebrity, Cassidy in 1974 quit the show, quit touring, quit being Keith. While in self-exile he suffered the loss of his father, actor Jack Cassidy, and the breakup of two marriages. Now, he says, therapy and the passage of time have given him perspective. "Today when people see me, they say it's like seeing an old friend," he says. "That feels good." Renewed at 42, Cassidy is married to Sue Shifrin, his song-writing partner, and has an infant son and a new album. The title he chose is poignant: Didn't You Used to Be...