Tv Alchemist Michael Damian Turns Pure Soap into Rock Gold

updated 07/10/1989 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/10/1989 01:00AM

Faithful fans of The Young and the Restless are cheering because the sudsy saga's Mr. Nice Guy, struggling rocker Danny Romalotti, is finally on a roll. In TV fantasyland, his record and the video are a hit, and a big summer tour is in the works. In point of fact, Danny's song, a punched-up cover version of David Essex's 1974 hit "Rock On" (the script calls for young and restless, not new and inventive), is such a smash that it crossed over into reality and became a No. 1 single for the actor who plays Danny, 27-year-old Michael Damian. Further complicating this hall-of-mirrors scenario, Damian has embarked on a national tour, portions of which will be taped and used as footage on episodes of The Young and the Restless. Are you following this so far?

For the most part, Damian says, it's a kick "to be able to do the same things In real life that you're doing in a character." He strongly hopes, how ever, to avoid emulating his alter ego's convoluted love life. "Danny married a girl because she tried to commit suicide," says Damian. "She was pregnant. She ended up losing the baby, and we"—he is into his TV persona now—"split. My character has been in love with this girl named Cricket on the show. But she's not into me. She was in love with her half brother."

Things are not nearly so messy in real life, where Damian's history reads as though it were torn from the David Cassidy biopic script. Raised in Southern California, Michael Damian Weir got his start in show business at age 10 by singing and playing trombone for the Weirz, a lounge act that included his eight brothers and sisters. His father, Larry, an architect, and mom, Maria, a pianist, helped manage the group. One of Damian's fondest memories is of constantly whining to his mother, "Maybe I don't want to be in the music business. Maybe I'd rather be a major-league ball player." He also recalls performing on military bases, where "the Marines helped me with my homework, although that wasn't always such a bright idea."

At 17, he quit the act, dropped the family name and went solo. His enterprising first move was to mail a photo of himself lo Tiger Beat magazine. An editor liked his looks, published a layout featuring him as an up-and-coming rock singer and financed a recording session. The song flopped, but it landed him a spot on American Bandstand. After seeing the show, a Young and Restless producer dreamed up the Romalotti character and called Damian on the phone. "He said, 'Can you act?' I said, 'Sure.' I did a screen test and I had the job," Damian recalls.

Only in reality.

As the world turns, Damian is busy moving out of the Malibu Canyon ranch house he bought for his parents and into his own place in Hollywood. But his career is still a family affair. His brothers perform on his album, Where Do We Go from Here, and his sister Estelle Harrison, who helps manage him, handles the important, sometimes sticky questions. "His fans get so upset when they see pictures of him with ladies about." she says. "Michael loves women. He tries not to hurt people. But he dates around."

Semi-incestuous Crickets, however, need not apply.

—Steve Dougherty, Robin Micheli in Los Angeles

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