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In the last years of David Cassidy’s life, the former teen idol struggled with alcohol abuse, resulting in three DUI arrests in five years. After a 2014 trip to rehab, he told family and friends that he had stopped drinking.
But in a new documentary airing on A&E next week, the Partridge Family star made a shocking admission just two months before he died of organ failure on Nov. 21 at the age of 67. After being rushed to the hospital when he fell ill in a recording studio, Cassidy called producers to explain what had happened.
“I have a liver disease,” Cassidy explained to A&E producer Saralena Weinfield in a recorded conversation. “There is no sign of me having dementia at this stage of my life. It was complete alcohol poisoning.”
For more on David Cassidy’s final weeks, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
Cassidy then followed up with a shocking confession. “The fact is that I lied about my drinking,” he said. “I did this to myself to cover up the sadness and the emptiness.”
As it turned out, Cassidy was still abusing alcohol until the last months of his life, an admission that shocked producers of the docuseries. The bombshell is more devastating to Cassidy’s family, including his kids Katie, 31, and Beau, 27, who assumed he was living a clean and sober life.
Not everyone is Cassidy’s circle is shocked that the actor and singer would lie about his behavior.
“Part of alcoholism is lying,” says Partridge costar Danny Bonaduce. “When you’re an addict, you know you can’t be honest with people. You say what you want them to hear. I can’t be mad at David for that, but it’s still a tragedy.”
Producers of the docuseries debated what they should do with the footage and ultimately decided to edit it into a documentary titled David Cassidy: the Last Session. In the documentary, a frail and weak Cassidy deals with health problems and memory loss as he records a new album in an attempt to stage a comeback.
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“I think it will strike a chord with people,” producer John Marks tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on stands Friday. “He wanted to share this very private part of his life, and to be honest once and for all. And I think he succeeded in doing that.
David Cassidy: the Last Session airs June 11 at 9 p.m. on A&E.