The Cowsills
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The Cowsills

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Sep
17
The Cowsills @ Silver Reef Hotel & Casino

Ferndale, Washington, USA

Ferndale, Washington, USA

Aug
12
The Cowsills @ Wilbarger Auditorium

Vernon, Texas, USA

Vernon, Texas, USA

Jul
19
The Cowsills @ BB King's

New York, New York, USA

New York, New York, USA

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Music

Press


by Bill DeYoung
July 27, 2007

STUART — Susan Cowsill could have been a Partridge.

At 10, she was the pixie-faced focal point of the Cowsills, a Rhode Island pop/rock band that included four of her brothers and — improbably — their mother. Screen Gems Productions loved the fact that mom sang with the group, which had hits with "The Rain, the Park and Other Things," "Hair" and several others, and began to develop a TV sitcom for them.

Fast forward: Shirley Jones and David Cassidy did not star in "The Cowsill Family." But now you know where it got started.

Now 48, Susan will sing with two of her surviving brothers Saturday at the Lyric Theatre. It's been a long road — mom Barbara died in 1985, and eldest brother Barry was a victim of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

With her then-husband Peter Holsapple, Cowsill wrote, sang and played guitar for 10 years in the New Orleans-based alt-rock band the Continental Drifters. Today, she lives in Los Angeles, where she's recording solo CDs.

But the Cowsills — such as they are — remain. "When you're in a family band," she said, "you never break up. No matter what we're doing individually, we always make music together."

Q. Tell me about 'The Partridge Family' connection.

A. It was actually a TV show that was designed for my family. Screen Gems came out and stayed with us for a couple of weeks. It came from all of our (Ed) Sullivans; they said, 'We need to make a TV show about these people, with them in it.' By the time they got to us, it was two or three years later, and they realized we weren't actors. Due to my mom's nonstage presence — beautiful voice, but she was not an entertainer — they decided unequivocally that they wanted to use a name woman as the mom. And my dad vetoed it. Ultimately, we weren't the (people) they were looking for. And we had grown up quite a bit. So they went ahead and just created us in their own likeness.

Q. The Cowsills' harmonies were legendary. Did the all-pervasive image of 'the cute little girl' mortify you in those days?

A. It mortified my brothers at certain points, because they wanted to be a rock band. Having their little sister in their band certainly wasn't very cool. But I was a musician truly from the get-go. I wasn't just a little kid up there for the hell of it. I knew what I was doing. And Mom as well. It was the image they didn't want to project — they wanted to be the Beatles.
- Vero Beach Press-Journal


January 20, 2006

William (Billy) Cowsill, 58, lead singer of the 1960s family band the Cowsills, has died at his home in Calgary after a long illness. His death Friday night was confirmed by relatives who had gathered in Rhode Island for a memorial for his brother Barry Cowsill, who was also in the band and drowned in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Billy Cowsill moved to Canada 35 years ago and continued his music career with Blue Northern and later the Blue Shadows. But it was the Cowsills that led to his greatest success as lead singer with such hits as Hair and Indian Lake. The band inspired the TV series The Partridge Family.

- London Free Press


By Joal Allen
January 21, 2006

Still mourning the loss of one brother, members of the 1960s family band the Cowsills are now mourning the loss of another.

Billy Cowsill, the eldest member of the group and lead singer on its harmonizing hits such as "Hair" and "The Rain, the Park and Other Things," died Friday in Canada, where he made his home. He was 58.

Per reports, Cowsill's surviving siblings learned of the death on Saturday in Newport, Rhode Island, as they gathered in their hometown for a service and memorial for Barry Cowsill, another brother and band member, who apparently perished last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"We don't know what happened, but he hasn't been well for a while," Bob Cowsill said of his brother Billy in the Providence [Rhode Island] Journal.

The family's Website, Cowsill.com, concurred, noting that Billy Cowsill "had a very rough time of it in the last few years." His ailments included emphysema, osteoporosis and Cushing's syndrome, a hormonal imbalance.

In the Providence Journal, Paul Cowsill intimated that his older brother's drug and alcohol problems had "caught up with him."

"He'd be the first one to tell you he's paying the fiddler," Paul said in the newspaper.

Indeed, when the Calgary Sun asked Billy Cowsill in 2002 to explain the breakup of one of his post-Cowsills bands, the Blue Shadows, he responded frankly: "Three vegetarians and a junkie--what are the chances?"

"I [messed up], plain and simple," Billy Cowsill said in the Sun. "Blow another free lunch, Bill."

In 2004, with Billy Cowsill's health in decline, members of the Cowsills, including Barry Cowsill, played a benefit concert for him in Los Angeles. Peter Tork of the Monkees, a fellow act from the 1960s pop fraternity, and Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles, the 1980s band that echoed 1960s harmonies, appeared, as did Oscar-winner Shirley Jones, star of the 1970-74 sitcom, The Partridge Family, which the Cowsills inspired.

While the Partridges bantered, the Cowsills imploded--the band, consisting of brothers Billy, Bob, Barry, John and Paul, sister Susan and mother Barbara, was over even as their TV selves tickled the laugh track. As Bob Cowsill once observed per an oft-cited quote: "It wasn't just the end of a business, it was the end of a family."

Billy Cowsill is the third member of the Cowsills to die after Barry and Barbara. Barbara Cowsill succumbed to emphysema at age 56 in 1985; the skeletal remains of Barry Cowsill, who would have turned 51 last September, were identified by morgue officials in New Orleans in January.

It was not known precisely how or when Barry Cowsill died. He had been living in New Orleans for a few months prior to Hurricane Katrina, and while he was due to come to Los Angeles to undergo treatment for alcohol abuse, the storm hit first. A voice mail message left on sister Susan's cell phone shortly after Katrina rolled through was the last his family heard from him.

On a cold Saturday in Rhode Island, Susan Cowsill scattered Barry's remains into Newport Harbor--or, tried to, anyway. The Providence Journal said a gust of wind blew the ashes back at the mourners. Paul Cowsill told the paper he got ashes in his eye--"and I'm digging it."

Another Barry Cowsill memorial was planned for this coming weekend in New Orleans. There was no immediate word on services for Billy Cowsill.

In the 2002 interview with the Calgary Sun, Billy Cowsill all but wrote his own epitaph. "It's been a ride, man," he said of his life and career. "Thirty-five years of rock 'n' rolling and pop music-ing--it's been a ride."

- E! Online


by The Boston Globe staff
January 6, 2006
Boston, Massachusetts


Barry Cowsill, a member of a family band whose rise from the honky-tonks and hotel lounges of Newport, R.I., to the top of the nation's charts served as the inspiration for the TV series ''The Partridge Family," was found dead last month on a New Orleans wharf four months after he disappeared when Hurricane Katrina hit the city. He was 51.

Mr. Cowsill's body, recovered Dec. 28, was identified Tuesday with dental records. The coroner had not determined the cause of death but believed it was related to the devastating storm, which struck the city Aug. 29.

His family said they had last heard from Mr. Cowsill on Sept. 1, when he left phone messages for his sister. He was in New Orleans to record an album.

Mr. Cowsill had also lived in New Orleans for periods of time in the past two decades. His sister, Susan, is also a performer who lived in the city.

Before personal acrimony and charges of money mismanagement dissolved the band and temporarily divided the family, The Cowsills were America's singing family.

Four Cowsill brothers played in the band: Barry on bass, Bill on guitar, Bob on guitar and organ, and John on drums. Their mother, Barbara, and little sister, Susan, eventually joined the group. Their father, William ''Bud" Cowsill, a retired Navy man, became the manager.

Living in Middletown, R.I., they were performing in a Newport club in 1965 when they were spotted by a producer from NBC's ''Today" show, who booked them for an appearance that led to a record deal.

By November 1967, their first million-seller, ''The Rain, The Park & Other Things," was atop the national pop charts. Within two more years, five other MGM albums were released, with ''Hair," ''Indian Lake," ''Love American Style," ''We Can Fly," and ''The Candy Kid" becoming favorites of the era.

The family had their own television special in 1968, and they made guest appearances on Ed Sullivan's show and the ''Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson.

By 1970, however, the family's fame and fortunes had reversed. The purchase of an expensive mansion in Rhode Island and speculation in land, combined with declining revenues from their albums, put the family on the brink of bankruptcy.

The band broke up in the 1970s amid bitterness that left some members estranged for several years.

''It wasn't just the end of a business -- it was the end of a family," Bob Cowsill said in a 1990 interview.

The Partridge Family, a fictitious family band fronted by David Cassidy and Shirley Jones, was the center of a 1970 to 1974 TV series. The band had its own run of hit songs.

Barbara Cowsill died in 1985.

In 2004, The Cowsills came together, for a Fenway Park performance during the American League Championship Series. Before Game Three of the series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, they sang the national anthem and their hit ''Hair," in homage to Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, and the rest of the uniquely coiffed players of the Sox.

They said their mother had been a rabid Sox fan.

In addition to his siblings, Mr. Cowsill leaves two daughters and a son.

Richard Cowsill said that no memorial service was planned and that his brother would be cremated. ''He always said, 'When I leave this place, you better party.' And that's what we're planning to do," he said.

- The Boston Globe


The Cowsills/Global
Robin Records

Glowing effervescently with enough harmony and melody to warm even the coldest heart, The Cowsills -- Susan, John, Bob and Paul -- are back with a brand-new CD, "Global," as sure a sign as there has been in quite a while that pure pop is indeed alive and well.

By any yardstick, "Global" is one of the best pop albums of the year. Its 11 songs surround you with majestic beauty. If you listen closely, you can hear the beating of the hearts of all nations, brought together by likely the most common bond of all: music that touches all souls, as one.

Like a good book, "Global" is hard to put down, hard to listen to in spurts, and easy to listen to all the way through. Its 42 minutes seep into your skin and transform you. After listening to it, you quite possibly will never be the same.

John Cowsill's only lead vocal on "Global" kicks off the album in grand style. "I can't wait any longer," he sings, uttering the first lyric heard. The group's harmony answer comes on its heels: "When is it coming, when is it coming?" The answer is, of course, "It's here now" -- that familiar, friendly sound that instantly takes you back.

But this is not retro mystery tour. This is The Cowsills, dab smack in the 90s, singing with contemporary urgency. "Under The Gun," the second song on this album, features harmony singing from Vicki Peterson and a great lead vocal from Susan.

"She Said To Me" hits you at top speed. Featuring another lead vocal from Susan, this is a real toe tapper with as infectious a chorus as you're likely to encounter this year. Susan's husband, Peter Holsapple, guests on a number of songs, including the sixties-ish hum-along, "What I Believe," written by Bob for his wife Mary Jo. Beautiful harmonies abound here. A chorus to die for is the centerpiece.

The Cowsills ramp up the power on three songs: "I Be Low," featuring Susan on electric rhythm guitar, "Far Away," once again featuring Susan on lead vocals, and "Rescue," with great harmony vox on the choruses.

I think the version of "Is It Any Wonder?" included here is the same one that appeared on Yellow Pills, Vol. 1. Doesn't matter, though: I absolutely agree that this wonderful song "...should at least be on a commercially available record by now, if not a hit single," as Bill Holdship says in the "Global" liner notes.

The centerpiece here, to these ears, is the final cut. "Some Good Years" features this album's most complex arrangement and maybe its smoothest, richest harmonies. It is quite a performance. "How the good shines through," the Cowsills sing during the song, and how right they are.

"Global" is a towering achievement, a blessed event for pop fans everywhere.

- Alan Haber's Pure Pop


By Margaret Moser

The Cowsills
Central Presbyterian Church, Thursday, March 13

Even without their late brothers, Barry and Bill, the Cowsills made a joyful noise in the acoustically lovely setting of Central Presbyterian Church. This was a rare appearance by the late-1960s pop-rock group whose true-life family band inspired The Partridge Family but saw their star fade amid changing musical trends. There was an element of sadness in the brothers' recent deaths amid the pure pleasure of the group's performance. Susan Cowsill, who'd performed her own showcase before the reunion, had been heard to say that she, Paul, and Bob had wanted to reunite for a long time but the other brothers didn't. Yet on this night, the years melted away with the catalog of songs that made them famous. "The Rain, the Park, and Other Things," "We Can Fly," and "Poor Baby" (but not "Indian Lake") were delivered with jubilant sibling harmonies shimmering and soaring into the wooden Gothic arches above. They even traded the bowdlerized verses of their Top 40 version of "Hair" for the original lyrics and performed an outstanding cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Helplessly Hoping." Nearly 40 years later, the Cowsills' moment in the sun still gleamed golden. - Austin Chronicle


Thursday, March 27, 2008
SXSW - Day Two (3/13 - Night)

Thursday night looked to be a little uneven, even if it still provided much to savor. Where to? The closest venue on our hit list was the Central Presbyterian Church, where a rare reunion performance of 60’s popsters and real-life Partridge Family inspiration The Cowsills was a-happening. It was a lot of fun as the surviving Cowsills played a short set of late 60’s hits (“We Can Fly”, “Poor Baby”, the sublime “The Rain, the Park, and Other Things”) while trading sunny harmonies.

They also did a wonderful, reverent version of C,S,N & Y’s “Helplessly Hoping” and a spirited version of their biggest hit “Hair” (but skipped my favorite “Indian Lake”) as the crowd rose for a standing ovation.

Perversely entertaining… and it got me to church. - Michael Atchison


The Cowsills

Sure, the crowd that turned out to hear the Cowsills perform at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis on Friday night was ready to reminisce. But some folks, eager to sing and shout the evening away, appeared to have been waiting for the family band to return to the state capital since its last visit in 1969. Backed by a three-piece rhythm section, Cowsill siblings Susan, Bob and Paul happily obliged, delivering a robustly harmonized mix of hits, misses and cover tunes that evoked both the birth of bubblegum pop and the vocal influences of the Mamas and the Papas and the Beatles.

Shortly after the show opened with "Monday, Monday," Susan joked that introductions were in order, since the siblings "look nothing like we used to." Yet the family vocal brand remains distinctive, despite the group's numerous hiatuses and personnel shifts. (Brothers Barry and Billy died a couple years ago, the former in a Hurricane Katrina-related drowning incident.) During Friday's opening set, Bob and Susan shared the guitar work and most of the lead vocals, while Paul, the most animated member of the trio, added to the harmonies that buoyed "The Rain, the Park and Other Things," "We Can Fly," "Indian Lake" and "Hair."

Amusing career anecdotes peppered the show, including a recollection of how the Cowsills begat TV's Partridge Family, complete with an affectionately goofy reprise of "I Think I Love You." Susan also got a chance to display her considerable gifts as a contemporary singer-songwriter in a nostalgia-free light.


-- Mike Joyce

- Washington Post


New York Daily News
1/24/10

Imagine it’s the late ’60s or early ’70s. The VietnamWar rages in jungles a zillion miles away while
a battle for peace is waged o n the streets and campuses at home. Long-haired kids embrace hippie
culture, smoking weed and ropping acid to“People Are Strange” by the Doors.

Now imagine a squeaky -clean, cookie-cutter group from Rhode Island of five brothers, a sister and their mother who sing in perfect harmony. And maybe you can understand why red-state America went wild for The Cowsills.

On his TV show, Johnny Cash anointed them “the most talented family I’ve ever met.” They scored humongous hits with “The Rain, the Park and Other Things,” “Indian Lake” and a cover of the Mamas and the Papas’ “Monday, Monday .”

They were on TV almost every week and averaged 200 performances a year before breaking up in 1972 (they
re-grouped from 1978-80, but it didn’t work out). Yet even these white-bread wonders had a dark side.

Now, decades later, the surviving Cowsills are making a comeback. Next Sunday night , they play the
Wolf Den at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

“Clearly, there was this image of a happy, loving, wonderful family,” says Bob Cowsill, now 60 and the
lead singer of the re-formed band.
Apparently that wasn’t the case. “Not by any stretch of the imagination,” says Cowsill. “We were raised in the ’60s and were children of the ’60s. We experimented. There was drug abuse. There was alcohol. Basically, our dad [Bud] kept us in a prison” — until they finally broke
out. “We said: ‘Holy cow, what’s this world out here?!’ ”

The original Cowsills consisted of siblings Bob, Bill, Barry, John, Paul and Susan and their mother, Barbara. Both parents and Barry and Bill have since died. Barry
perished in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — “the day before, I had convinced him to finally come to California to enter rehab,” says Bob.

Today, John plays drums for what’s left of the Beach Boys. In
2007, Bob says the siblings were approached to do a gig— and something sparked. “We had a lot of fun,” he says.
“Surprisingly, the harmony was still there.” They’ve since added Paul’s son Brendon on guitar, Bob’s son Ryan on keyboards, Susan’s husband, Russ,on drums, and bassist Mary Lasseigne .

“Admittedly, people don’t know us anymore,” says Bob. “We’re no longer on the radar.” That could change this summer. There are plans for a book, a documentary and a possible tour.

But is there a need in the 21st century to revive a group that practically invented bubble gum rock?

“We will see,” says Bob. “One thing I do know: The Cowsills are back.” - Phil Roura


Discography

The Cowsills plus the Lincoln Park Zoo

The Cowsills

We Can Fly

Captain Sad and his Ship of Fools

The Best of The Cowsills

The Cowsills In Concert

II x II

All Time Hits

On My Side

Global

The Best of The Cowsills - The Millennium Collection

Photos

Bio

THE COWSILLS

The Cowsills -- were one of the biggest pop acts of the late '60s.

Distinguished by their angelic harmonies and sun-kissed melodies. The group's origins lie with brothers Bill and Bob, who as children began their singing careers covering Everly Brothers hits.

Given guitars by their father, Navy man William "Bud" Cowsill, the siblings soon recruited younger brothers Barry and John to play bass and drums, respectively, and as Beatlemania dawned, the teen foursome began performing live at school dances and church socials throughout their native Newport, RI.

Eventually they landed a regular weekend gig at the local club, Dorians, on Bannisters Wharf, and in 1965, recorded the single "All I Really Wanta Be Is Me" on the Joda label; the record generated little response until an appearance on NBC's The Today Show.

The group then signed with Mercury Records, releasing three more singles. Upon signing with MGM in 1967, The Cowsills with their lineup now numbering seven (brother Paul, sister Susan and mother Barbara joining the original four) had their first million-selling single, “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” (usually called the flower girl song) which was featured most recently in Jim Carrey’s movie, “Dumb and Dumber”.

They performed on such notable TV shows as the Ed Sullivan Show, the Johnny Cash Show, the Tonight Show, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, and also had their own NBC television special in 1968. “Indian Lake” and “We Can Fly” followed in the summer and in 1969 they had their biggest hit, the multi-million selling title song from the Broadway musical “Hair.”

The Cowsills also recorded the theme song for the TV show “Love, American Style” which is still one of the most popular songs they perform in their shows. They were one of the early pop acts to record commercials for television (nationally shown milk ads for the American Dairy Association) and there is currently a serious online grass roots movement under way to ensure their induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.

Today, The Cowsills tour and perform together (although brother Barry died during the Katrina hurricane and brother Bill passed away at the same time from illnesses in Canada) and their family harmonies are still as infectious and bright as ever.