Pop culture: C'mon get happy? Tulsans weren't ready for 'naked' fair singer

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 11:00 am
By JIMMIE TRAMEL World Scene Writer

The Tulsa State Fair apparently wasn’t ready for a naked Partridge 42 years ago.

It was 1972 and “The Partridge Family” tour bus was cruising across TV screens at top speed. Teen idol and series star David Cassidy was booked for a gig at the Tulsa State Fair. Other musical guests that year included B.J. Thomas (born in Hugo, Okla.), Minnie Pearl, Ferlin Husky and Charley Pride.
Guess which act, to quote a Tulsa World story published after the 1972 fair, underperformed at the box office? Keith Partridge, alias Cassidy.

“The little kids are fickle,” said John Walker of Carson Attractions. “They form new stars constantly and you just can’t always predict who it will be.”
Fair manager John Elsner had a different theory. He said he believes bad publicity about Cassidy using drugs and posing nude for a magazine negatively impacted attendance – 1,566 for a first show and 2,103 for a second show. Cassidy bared all for “Rolling Stone” in May of ‘72 because, as child stars tend to do, he wanted to break away from the character he played on TV.

Who else has played the Tulsa State Fair over the years?
I played word association with Tulsa World music writer Jerry Wofford. I mentioned names. He blurted out the first thing which sprang to his mind.

Here’s a partial list of Tulsa State Fair performers:
Tex Ritter: “Classic.”
Roy Orbison: Sunglasses.”
Willie Nelson: “Pot.”
Ray Price: “Legend.”
Reba McEntire: “Reba!”
Slim Whitman: “I know the name, but I don’t know.”
Chubby Checker: “Good dancing.”
Three Dog Night: “Been to Oklahoma.” (hint: song lyrics)
Bob Wills: “Texas Playboys.”
Bellamy Brothers: “Influential.”
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: “My dad.”
Clint Black: “1989” (he was in the music class of ‘89)
Chris LeDoux: “Cowboy.”
George Strait: “King of Cowboys.’
Hank Williams, Jr.: “Monday Night Football.”
Merle Haggard: “Legend.”
Fats Domino: “New Orleans.”
Charley Pride: Trendsetter.”
Minnie Pearl: “Howdy!”
David Cassidy: “Dreamy.”
Dwight Yoakam: “Cowboy hat.”
Jim Stafford: “Branson.”
Mamas and Papas: “Dreamin’ ”
Among Tulsa State Fair acts who were booked for fair-related concerts but either cancelled or did not show: The Osmonds, Jim Nabors (with the Hagar Twins) and David Allen Coe.