Edward Claude “Ed” Cassidy (May 4, 1923 – December 6, 2012) was an American jazz and rock drummer who was one of the founders of the progressive rock group Spirit in 1967.
Ed was the stepfather of lead singer/songwriter of the band, Randy California. Born in 1923, Cassidy was over 20 years older than the other band members.
Their biggest song was”I Got a Line on You” was originally recorded during the sessions for their second album, The Family That Plays Together, between March 11 and September 18, 1968. The song was composed by Randy and recorded in sessions produced by Lou Adler(known for his work with the Mamas & the Papas and Carole King.) Released as a single ahead of the album by Ode Records in the US in October 1968,it began a slow rise up the charts. There biggest hit, it reached #25 on the U.S. Top 100 on March 15, 1969. In those days, any band worth a damn added that song to their repertoire. I was guilty of same..
It was called in a Billboard review, “The definitive rock single. Matthew Greenwald of AllMusic says it is “Driven by a fabulously funky guitar riff and some very accessible lyrics, the song is a rock classic from beginning to end.”
Cassidy was recognizable by his shaven head (hence his nickname “Mr. Skin”, later the name of a Spirit song) and his fondness for wearing black. His earlier career was primarily in jazz and included stints with Cannonball Adderley, Gerry Mulligan, Rahsan Roland Kerk, Thelonious Monk, and Lee Konitz.He was a founding member of Rising Son ,with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder. This was before any of the individuals had any success on their own.
For you drummers out there, instead of the double-bass drum kit that was popular at the time, he used a single bass drum, and two large parade bass drums as floor toms. This helped to give him and the band their signature sound.
Cassidy was the only member who played with all various line-ups of Spirit on almost 20 albums over almost 30 years. Spirit finally disbanded following Randy California’s (death in 1997.
From the mid-1970’s, Cassidy also worked as an actor, including live improvisation, performing in several commercials of the day. He taught and studied history as well.
BTW- Currently, the estate of Randy California is suing Led Zeppelin claiming the beginning portion of their biggest hit, “Stairway to Heaven” was lifted from his song, Taurus.