Barry Steven Cowsill
September 14, 1954 - 2005

Newest Story:

Around 2004 my late friend and house guest Barry Cowsill came home after a Taste of Rhode Island thing, highly excited with a huge grin (I'm sure you who knew Barry can picture it). Barry met Salty and Mrs. Brine at the function and he asked for an autograph. Salty at first, according to Barry, didn't wish to bother as I think he must have been tired, but Barry said he pulled the "I'm Barry Cowsill and have always brushed my teeth and said my prayers" ploy. At that point Mrs. Brine pulled a picture out of her pocket book and Salty signed it. We would often speak about growing up in Newport and always remembered the carnivals that used to be held at King Park featuring Salty and Jeff. Barry jokingly busted my chops over that photo until a short time later while serving as a member of a cannon crew during the Gaspee Days Parade I saw Salty in a convertible and asked for an autograph, which he gave with a big smile. Guess he couldn't resist one of his "kids" dressed in a 1790s uniform. Later that day we placed both [photos] on the living room wall. I miss both those guys.

- Mike from Newport

Salty Brine

One of the legacies that Barry leaves us with is his sense of humor, the smiles, the laughs.
Let's share Barry stories!!

(These have been taken from Barry's Memorial Book on, emails, videos, etc. If you have a funny story you'd like me to add, please feel free to email me. Also, if these are your stories and you have a picture from that time of Barry you'd like to share, I'd love to add it in.)

Barry lived life on his own terms. He hated being told what to do. For the most part, he did what he wanted, when he wanted. One thing I learned early on in our friendship… NEVER tell Barry "don't." The first night he stayed at our house, my husband Ken asked B if he wanted to borrow something to sleep in, and Barry said no, he'd be fine. Ken innocently made some joking comment along the lines of, "Well, just don't walk through the house naked in the middle of the night." We then told Barry not to worry about coming through the bedroom to get to the bathroom if he needed to, since it was the only way to get there. I heard the door open at around 4:00 that morning, and it was directly in my line of sight from my sleeping position. In the dark, what do I see but Barry walking through the bedroom stark naked on his way to the bathroom. The next morning I told Ken about the incident and we have often joked about it between ourselves, but I never told Barry that I was awake for his midnight run, he never knew…


Barry painted our house when he was in RI a couple of years ago. He worked hard and never missed a day. If we were lucky, at the end of the day he would play our piano. Never before or since has our piano sounded so good! He frequently spoke of how much he loved his children and was very kind to our kids. He even gave our daughter a couple of guitar lessons!


My partner Eric Lowen and I knew him a million years ago, when all three of us were working as singing waiters at Hi-Pockets in Hollywood in the late 70s / early 80s. He recorded in our studio, sang with us, hung out with us and always, always kept us laughing with his jubilant spirit. We loved him, and his music.


He was so sweet!! One night when he was here in Austin Tx. He and Billy were walking to my fathers car after they had just finished playing at Egos. My father's car back fired and we couldn't see Barry. He thought someone was shooting so he was flat on the ground. We laughed about that for a long time.


Our story begins one evening in 1983, in Santa Barbara, I was mixing sound for a band called the Pups, during the last set of the night an amazing singer took the stage, sang some Beatles songs with the band, I thought this guy looks familiar and man does he rock, as a aspiring record producer at that time I thought now that's a Guy I would love to get in the studio with and rock out, the next encounter with this Man was just a few days later when I was driving up Chapala street in the pouring rain, I see this guy from the show the other night. I pulled over and asked him if he needed a ride. He looked at me as if we knew each other forever, "you know that smile that could warm the coldest heart", yes it was our beloved brother Barry! From that day on I new that I had found a soul mate. We began to talk in our own language, soon it was clear that it didn't matter what we said, we were communicating telepathically, this went on for years, and for awhile all I had to do is think of him and within a few days he would call, he rarely left a number or he would get the numbers wrong, never to fear, we would always find each other and in Barry's festive nature and we were off on another adventure, one of these adventures we recorded, I had the tape recorder strapped to my shoulder and Barry was holding the microphone, now imagine two guys walking around Santa Barbara at night connected together by a wire that only allowed them to be one foot apart, we interviewed many people sang songs, at one point Barry dragged me to a pay phone dropped some money in the slot played a song on the keypad and said "see you get your money back" Not much time passed and we were in the studio with Bradley Wisham on drums, the stuff we recorded felt timeless, and was always a powerful reference for further recordings. Time passed, Barry met Deb, and when I finally met her she said "I feel like I know you already; Barry played me that tape", "this is where I put my hand on my head and say oh no!" Barry talked about that tape for years, it always makes me laugh thinking about my brother connected by that short piece of wire.


Barry was the clown...I remember him opening his mouth on a glass door and blowing out looking like a blow fish.


My memory of Barry is when I saw him, in Boston a couple of years ago. Susan was playing a benefit that I had been invited to attend, and I took my not-yet-three-year-old granddaughter along. It was a small intimate gathering of people, and she was comfortable greeting everyone. When Barry came through the door, she just went straight to him, tugged on his coat. He looked down at her and sat right down in the middle of the floor with her and they talked. They danced together. She had made a new friend and I think it is very poignant that he made friends with a 3-year-old child as easily as he made friends with adults who crossed his path. And not only was he friendly but respectful to this child. When I finally went over to rescue Barry from her, she introduced us to each other, and he let her have her moment, made her feel very important, not small at all. I'll never forget that.


I'll miss you Barry,and I'll remember our rides around the Ocean Drive in the old Pontiac, smokin'cigars and writing "And her lips were really red" Too bad we never got around to recording it.


of the few memories of barry that i do have, the one that might say the most about him was a night at the carrolton in nola... the continental drifters were rockin' the house and barry was standing next to me and george my oxford pal... for some reason barry started heckling susan, and it went on for quite a while... i finally leaned over to barry and said "barry, you got to be proud of your sister, listen to that voice"... he just looked at me and gave me an angry looking "ARGGGH" in my ear... i just looked at him and turned back to the band... about 3 minutes later he leaned over to me and said "you know, i really am proud of her.... you just have to promise me you'll never tell her"... i think i told her a few years later... bless you barry


I have to admit I totally cracked up the first time I
picked up my As Is CD to put it away. Only Barry!

We remember the good times, and forget the bad
Rich or poor, only time is what we had
Jody Gibson on the banjo, your guitar cranking hotter
Over in the corner blowin' harp is Frank Potter
Billy Goode's will never be the same
After losing you forever to the Hall of Fame

Kevin & Gianna

In 1968, I wrote a letter to Barry, saddened that I couldn't attend their show at a local theatre. He wrote me back--a five-page letter, complete with everyone's autographs. He mailed it from the West Allis Inn in Wisconsin. It was one of my most treasured possessions.


I gotta tell ya this - I have a picture from the TORI reunion when Bill was there where they’re all standing in front of the old house and Barry signed it across the sky in the picture and wrote “Love from Above” – freaky no?


I remember sledding down that hill.
I remember Bambii's
I remember surfing at 1st beach while they were filming the milk commercial
I remember all of us Newporters, during a show, calling him Barry "Miles" Cowsell. Him laughing.
I remember he played for my 50th Birthday at Billie Goodes.
I remember Fenway.
I remember his smile.
I remember his smile


Barry Cowsill was in Junior High when Bob and Dick Cowsill graduated from high school together at Middletown High. My little sister was the same age. That was near 40 years ago, long past that first song and the "Today Show". I recall all classes were delayed that morning when the "Cowsill's" played on national TV. Back when we had only three channels!


I met Barry at Billy Goode's last year, he was at a neighboring table in their dining room, we struck up a nice conversation - it wasn't until the end of it that I learned who he was, at the time I knew he looked familiar but couldn't place him. He was wearing a brown fedora and was funny, witty and obviously having a very good time that night.


Have fond memories of you all playing in my basement.

Mrs. Poulin

He (Barry) was my kids babysitter when he and his wonderful wife Debbie lived here in Milwaukee. He was never one to "leave" messages on our answering machine...he use to sing messages instead. ... my favorite memory is how he would babysit the kids--he would gather them into a circle around him and then he would play his guitar and sing to them. Honestly, you could tell there was pain behind his eyes, but he was the most gentle and kindest person i have ever met.


I would run up to Jane's Variety store off of Bellevue Ave every month to get the latest issue of Tiger Beat Magazine to read all about him.( Never dreaming that one day I would have the opportunity to meet him) Recently, I met Barry when he came to visit his girlfriend at Newport Hospital.( I am a nurse there) What impressed me most about Barry was that despite his unfortunate circumstances, he was upbeat, pleasant and very carrismatic. He played his guitar for us and we all could see how very talented he was.


A memory to share from the concert Sept '04: Shirley Jones was speaking of how "The Partridge Family" was a TV show...but this (referring to the Cowsills) is the real talent...the real musicians.....and she went on and on. (I'm paraphrasing, of course). While she was speaking so highly of the Cowsills and their true talent, Barry slipped behind her a few feet away...and was blowing kisses toward her with both hands.


On the last leg of the last show at TORI 2000 Barry took that pocket watch out of his pocket and swung it a few times and said, "You're getting veerryy sleeeeepy."


In 1998 a few of us were at The Kerry with Barry who was in the middle of singing 'Sweet N' Dirty' when one of the girls walked into the men's restroom by accident. Barry didn't miss a beat incorporating the event into the song. He was on to 'Mellow Yellow' when she re-appeared and once again he incorportated the event by asking if she enjoyed the Fur Trap.


I remember the first time I met Barry, John, Susan, Bob and lived at 1837 La Mesa Drive, here in Santa Monica. Going horseback riding with Barry and John, playing on the trampoline with Susan...boy, you were GOOD! Having your mom invite us into the house having cookies and MILK...yes MILK! LOL...and listening to you guys all rehearse ...what fond, special memories I have of those days!!!


One night at The Kerry, Barry told this story. "Richard made me my first Superman suit when I was in the 4th grade, my only Superman suit. He stitched up some sweat pants and I mean man I was .... before I caught John with my Superman suit, giving Susan a piggy-back ride. And my cape was torn! I said, (singing now) 'You took my Superman suit and you put it on. Then you took our sister, Sue, and made like she was a blind girl and you were flying her all over the world. Except you couldn't hold her in your arms, so you tore my cape. G** I was really p***** off. Your wore my Superman suit - thaaatt Richey made.'"


Ok, quick story here...I was living in the town I grew up in sometime in the eighties and met Barry through a mutual friend, Alligator, also an entertainer. One night, I just happen to walk into a local bar and there's Barry, on stage and on his own. I assessed immediately that I would have to work fast if I was going to catch up to Barry - by the looks of things, he was hours ahead of me. Before I could muster a strategy to approach his altitude, he orders me to get my guitar (in the car...) and join him ever so quick on stage - "NOW"! So, I'm on stage, plugged in, and ready to go. Barry, in his most charming manner, asks me if I have everything I need 'cause I'm going to be there awhile. I'm game. He shoots me a crazy smile, and says quietly - "hold on" - "Ladies and Gentlemen, we would now like to play for you side 2 of 'Abbey Road', by whoever that band was."


I have wonderful memories of Barry and the entire Cowsill singing group. On August 30th 1969, I had the pleasure of meeting the family for the first time in Asbury Park, NJ. MGM Records arranged for me to watch the show from backstage and spend quality time with the family. Between shows, the entire family sang "Happy Birthday" to me with with no instruments backing them up. It was my 16th birthday and one that I will never forget! The entire family personally signed an 8x10 B&W photo for me. Barry signed it "Love, Barry Cowsill." Barry was the nicest, most sensitive guy you could ever meet. He has left all of us with many fine memories.


I first saw the Cowsills perform at our state fair in 1968, and I was lucky enough to be allowed entrance backstage before rehearsal. I got to talk with Barry, and I told him about my girlfriend, Mary Ellen. Her father had passed away earlier in the summer, and her birthday was the following weekend. I wanted to do something special for her. So I told him I was having a party for her that Friday and how the best present in the world would be if he could surprise her with a phone call to wish her a happy birthday. I jotted my number and the day and time of the party. I tried not to get my hopes up, and didn't utter a word to Mary Ellen. But, that Friday afternoon, as she was about to unwrap her gifts, my phone rang, and my heart raced as the voice on the other end, said "Hi, is this RoseAnn?.... This is Barry." I talked to him for probably less than a minute, thanked him profusely, then handed the phone over to a stunned Mary Ellen. Barry was calling from Detroit, as I recall, and was about to go on stage. The fact that he’d saved that little slip of paper for five days and had remembered to call at the designated time still amazes me.

Rose Ann

I knew Barry when he attended North Kingstown High School in the 1970s. The last time I seen him he was hitch hiking and I drove him to Newport, RI. He will be missed.


I was in Barry's class at The Hollywood Professional School when I was thirteen years old. I was quite the outsider, having been dragged to Hollywood by a stage mom who wanted me to be an actress. Barry was so amazingly kind and gracious to me, when others weren't, and I have never, ever forgotten that. He was a bright soul.


My first experience with the Cowsills was at a dance/concert at the old Armory on Pine Street in Attleboro, MA. This was in the late sixties but before "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things" came out. I had never heard of them before and was immediately blown away by their vocal harmonies on their opening song "Paperback Writer". During one of the sets one of the tuning pegs on Barry's bass guitar (I think it was a violin style bass) broke, and while they were back stage trying to get it fixed, I had the opportunity to meet all the boys and even helped Barry fix his bass. I am still a musician today and have fond memories of having grown up listening to their music.


Barry by Frank Bettencourt

I met Barry in 1979 or 1980. I was a single parent and my children really took to him. I found in him a true friend. He lived in my house, above Santa Barbara, in a community called Painted Cave. It was a good time and I & my children enjoyed Barry's company very much. He was so very good with children. Barry was also a talented musician and songwriter. He could play almost anything at the drop of a hat. I am a painter and did a portrait of him in 1980.


I attended Howland School in Middletown, Rhode Island with Barry in 4th and 5th grade and had attended one of his birthdays (I think it was during 5th grade) and we went bowling. I'll always remember his sense of humor and fun loving spirit.


I remember playing basketball with the Cowsill boys on my basketball court in Newport at my parents' home on Ridge Road many years ago. They were a spirited bunch and I liked Barry.

Marc’s 4:00 a.m. and Barry just finished his guest appearance with the Gnarltones at the Matador, we’re sitting around doing shots of tequila and having a grand time. I was taking photographs, which one is saved as my computer wallpaper. It’s one of several fun memories I have of Barry.

Nick & Darlene

I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with Barry when I was just a kid. He befriended an uncle of mine and made a trip North to Dalton, NH. He made a lasting impression on me as a kid. He was kind, funny, a great performer, and was a part of my family if only for a short time. I have not heard about him in years, but was deeply saddened to hear of his passing. He touched many people in life, mine included, and he will surely be welcomed with open arms in the journey ahead.


I feel blessed to have known him. I will never forget our first meeting just after he moved back to Newport several years ago, when a friend, Mike Warner, drummer extraordinaire, brought him over to the house and we jammed in the basement. Barry wailed on his original songs - he was such a gifted singer songwriter and much more of a rocker than his earlier recordings had let on. And when my teenage son came down to sit in on drums, Barry lit up because it made him think of his own son and how proud he was of his kids, of whom he always spoke so highly. I felt a special kinship with Barry because of our common love for 60s music and especially Beatle songs. I'll always remember the nights when we'd harmonized on them at Billy Goode's tavern in Newport - he loved to sing and had an impeccable sense of harmony and pitch. Deep down, I know Barry is not gone- he's just changed his address...


I'm thankful for all the wonderful memories I have of Barry: watching him watch us enjoy The Little Rascals; him wanting to stay up all night and play and sing for us; giving me that silly nickname which I take to mean he saw something in me I didn't; letting me play the tamb with him; his delight at the watch and the hat ("That's a f***in' A, Barb!"), the notebooks full of his lyrics and notes...blew me away, “Sweet ‘n’ Dirty Girl” ala Ted Kennedy et al. He was always kind to me. Always willing to give a hug. I'll miss hearing him sing (especially the Stones' "Tell Me" and the "Bombay" scream and “Bang a Gong”); I’ll miss hearing him say my name in that gravelly voice of his. I'll miss the ubiquitous over-the-glasses look.


I met Barry through his brother John in the 80's. I invited him over to watch a movie and he stayed on my sofa for about a week. We played some music together. I was in a band with my sister at the time and she couldn't make our show in Mammoth so we asked Barry to take her place. The night we left, his powder blue VW wagon was broke down on the side of the road. We told him to leave it and 3 of us went to the Greyhound depot and met the rest of the band a few days later in Mammoth. (I could write a book about that trip) We got up there and every night he did an hour set solo. Alot of Stones covers then we would all play together. He was amazing. He didn't do anything like anybody else. Oddly enough, the last time I spoke to Barry he called at a party where we were celebrating another friends life that had been cut short. I hadn't spoken to him in 12 years or so. "Hey Barry!"
Hey! You got 300 dollars for the car you owe me? He never did get that car out of hock.


I will never forget meeting you for the first time at the Kerry and what a fun night it was. The events that you performed for us in RI (our anniversary, Nathan's birthday and Fred's wedding) although all special events in our lives, were made more special having the talent of Barry Cowsill there. However, some of the best times we were able to share with you were the times that we sat in my living room listening to you talk about how much you loved your wife and children and all the things you've done and people you've known. Then there were the times that you Nathan and Kevin interacted as friends......those times will always be precious memories, especially your jamming sessions with them. While describing you to my friends during the past week and months my words were "Barry was the most inteligent, talented, but sad person I have ever had the pleasure to meet. And even though he claimed to not like to sing my old favorite Cowsill songs, he would always do that for me."


My wife & I are so very sorry to hear about Barry. We were neighbors of Barry’s for several years in New Orleans about 10 years ago. We got to be good friends. Our kids played all the time, slept over at each others houses and me and Barry got together and jammed on rock classics (mostly Stones) & Barry’s songs with him on guitar and me playing mandolin. Barry was a wild soul but a truly sweet man with a great heart. Everyone who knew him cared about him. He was a very loving dad who absolutely worshiped his kids. My wife thought is was funny he was a neat freak who kept his house very tidy Not very rock n roll. I will treasure my friendship with Barry and the memories I have hanging out as fellow dads, neighbors and as friends. When I left New Orleans he gave me an autographed photograph of The Cowsills in front of Nathan’s at Coney Island, talking about the Cowsills was not something Barry did much. He was uncomfortable with any reference to the past as he was always looking ahead as a musician.

Freddi & Rosemary

He lived with us in Maine one summer; taking care of my two kids while I recovered from back surgery.. "Barry Poppins". We played endless games of outdoor scrabble under a big old sugar maple, drinking gin and tonics and telling lies. He was a rascal; a sweet little cheater who'd turn tiles over and play them as blanks until I eventually caught on..He gave a sheepish Barry grin and then we both laughed like mad:))


A few years back, the fans were planning a Cowsills tribute album. I was planning on contributing a Susan song called Snow, and one day when I was with Barry, he said that he wanted to do a song too… a rap version of his song Dover Mines. So we planned to do them together in my basement where I had a small 6 track recorder set up. We got together a few times, and it is one of the coolest Barry memories that I have. He engineered for me, and I for him. When we did his song, he played every instrument. It was so cool watching him work, layering drums, bass, and guitars... And when it came time for the vocal, Barry wasn't sure of the lyrics so I brought out my old copy of the album On My Side, which had the lyrics on the album liner. He read them through and asked for a pencil. There were a couple of words that Bob had made him change years ago when they recorded the album, and Barry was going to change them back to the way he originally wrote them. He made the changes to the album liner, and we recorded the song. It took him 30 odd years, but again, Barry did it HIS way.


I met him in Santa Barbara when he befriended my musician friends and they brought him home to stay with us. I loved hearing his stories and thought he was very bright and very cute.


Spent time with Barry in the Florida Keys in the 80's. We sang, drank, partied and enjoyed life. All of us there will cherish our memories of that time and that talent. Even Pete the Heat loved him.


When I met Barry, his aura was truly one that could not be compared with and he was doting about his children, his new recordings and how 2005 was going to be the best yet for him. I had seen him around town lots of times early last year before he left for New Orleans. He was genuine man. Those who do not agree, retribution is left up to God, and I know that he is up there with the angels in a better place where we know he is truly appreciated along with an inspiration of his, Warren Zevon


I met Barry in 1986, we roomed together in Newport, I left for Santa Barbara and he followed days after bringing me my bicycle, I remember,,ha ,, he took me to some funky mexican restraunt in L.A.,,we hung out in S.B. for some time then Barry moved on. I have seen him recently in newport. I'm so glad I bought his cd, to keep him near.


I remember the days, we all sat outside the porch where you all would practice at home in Newport. Well during break for the family, Barry came outside, and was walking on the lawn. My X-friend dragged me all around the lawn, by my ponytail. It was more embarrassing than it hurt, but, boy did it hurt! Also I remember going down Blueberry Hill in the winter on cardboard boxes with the family, that was really fun! We used to raise hamsters in my mom's sewing room, my brother Bob found out that Barry loved and wanted one, so he gave him one, but unfortunately it got away, it went into the walls of their huge house they lived at, so he gave him another one, the same thing happened a few times, then we thought we better stop giving him hamsters. None of them were ever found. Sorry Barry, we gave it a good try!


Barry and I became fast friends in the early part of 83, I believe. I was working off-shore for Global Marine and trying to establish some musical contacts in Santa Barbara. I was fresh out of the Motor City and had a handful of friends there. My friend Phil Meckley and I went to see Barry play in Montecito at a place called Peabody's one night. Phil was also working offshore w/ Barry brother John, so we had something in common. Barry was kind and very cordial. We yucked it up over a few brews and said we would be back next time he played. Barry was also kind enough to let me sit in on the harp on a few tunes. He was a natural rocker. He reminded me of a cross between Keith Richards and Neil Young. We hung out several times after that. When I wasn't offshore we would catch him at 1129 or Peabody’s. One night in particular Barry and I raced down to Rocky Gallenti's after a Peabody’s show, to hear 2 Dots and a Dash, it was Tues. and that was the Place to be in SB on a Tuesday night in 1983. Well Barry jumped up on stage and cranked out a spirited rendition of Chuck Berry's Memphis, which slayed the packed house. If my memory serves me well, he did another tune??? I just happened to glance over to the end of the stage and leaning over a yellow stratocaster was Joe Walsh. Well Joe closed the jam w/ a couple of old James gang numbers and the place went nuts. After all that excitement died down, I still couldn’t believe what I saw. Barry was talking to Joe right before we left out for Carrows for some late night grease. He turned to Joe and said Joe "this my friend mike he plays the harp"... Well that made my week I must have called 10 people the next day telling about that Tuesday. To me that was the true character that Barry posessed. A natural Rocker and a natural god given true spirit.


I met barry cowsill about 3 or 4 years ago when i was working with his sister in a cover band on bourbon st. He would come by after work for a beer or 2 once a week, and always crash our stage, (which was always great). Our harcore, street smart, club manager was crazy out about him. I don't think he ever had to pay for a drink, which always amazed me, caused she would never buy anybondy a drink. Only being 24 at the time I didn't know much about the cowsills, but through susan I learned alot and became a fast fan. The love he and and susan had for eachother always inspired me to treat my brother better. My favorite Barry memory was over Jazz Fest, he and his brother John sat in with us on bourbon st, and sang "i like bread and butter, I like toast and Jam" (whatever that song is), it was soooo good. it is a memory I will have for the rest of my life. Rest in peace you beautiful soul.


When I first met Barry, thirty years ago or so, he was already several years past being on the media radar, a "child star" or "teen idol" as the papers put it. And if you didn't already know that's where he'd been, you would have never known it from hanging out with him. It's not something I ever heard him to talk about and he didn't seem to have any particular sense of entitlement. What was apparent though was that he could write great songs and he had that amazing voice that he could project into any song and animate it with life. His audience, mostly just small groups of friends. Personally I had no real awareness of the Cowsills, I just appreciated him as himself, on his own terms.
At that I age I was already playing around with music, playing rudimentary guitar, trying to write songs and record things. Barry was eventually recruited as my guitar teacher. I was probably a somewhat lackluster student. He taught me to play Beatles songs and even made me sing. I remember that he told me to "sing from your stomach not, through your nose". I'm not sure if I ever learned this lesson completely (it sounded baffling to me, like a zen koan at the time). I am sure Barry would still tell me that I've got a long ways to go.
Subsequently, I had a good time with Barry, Deb and family hanging out while they were living in Los Angeles, sitting with Barry and talking on my balcony in Hollywood while we were supposed to be recording music, visiting them in New Orleans, auditioning bass players, flailing away at an old drum kit without any snares on the snare drum, searching for a 2" alignment tape in the mystery of New Orleans, waking up to Thomas the Train with Ringo narrating. And now of course, I am really glad to have had that time,gai at least.

Barry B.

Barry once told the story of being the house band for a local strip joint in Newport, and remembering John and himself being escorted out of the club once the ladies took the stage. I suppose Bob and Bill were left to "take in the sights."


Barry, who had sung so amazingly at Vicki and John's wedding, pounded on the piano at the singalong after, singing with such fervor and having such a great time, surrounded by so much love.


Lisette and Barry

(Lisette) said Cowsill told her that 20 years earlier, during one of his psychotic episodes, he ran barefoot in a southwestern desert, burning his feet.

"Most of what Barry liked to do was cook for me," she said. " He felt I needed to be fed. He loved to make me fried eggs for brunch. He was so particular. If he broke a yolk, he'd start over."

(Lisette) wears a single earring, cut in the shape of a crescent-shaped moon and made from a Newport bridge token. To many people, it is nothing special, but to her it is something very special indeed. Barry mailed it to her last February while she was living in California. "Please share this with me," reads the letter that accompanied it, scrawled in black marker. "After all, we are a New Port. Mine's on a safety pin. Love and love and love. B.C."


i had the good fortune of meeting him about three years ago during jazz fest at the kerry. being a cowsill fan my whole life, i was amazed when my son took me to the kerry to introduce me to barry. shortly after that, he moved backed to ri and we were able to spend some great personal time with barry. he was an amazingly brilliant, talented, ecentric man who wanted nothing more in life but to be back with his wife, to be a good husband and to be with his kids and to be a good dad. he was trying so hard to get his life back together and i truly believe he wanted that more than anything in the world. unfortunately katrina came and took the life of one of the most complex, loving and caring people i have ever and probably will ever meet.


Once I ask Barry compare himself to his brother Bob and he replied in a dead-on Ernest imitation, "He's more conservative than me Vern!" Barry said he feels Jim Varney is a comic genius, and possed all the Ernest movies which he watched with his kids.


When the bankruptcy happened, somehow Cowsill Lane was not included. apparently somehow Barry managed to sell the rights to taht stree for $5,000. Leave it to Barry huh?


I feel very blessed that I had the opportunity to meet Barry and see him in concert several times. At Billy's Benefit Concert (the night before Barry's 50th birthday), Barb and I told Barry we had birthday presents for him. He said, "Give them to Billy." He didn't care about himself, only Billy.


Barry once told of giving his Mom pointeres when they were in the recording background vocals. Of course, as an adult, he now knows that his Mom was just being condisending to her 12 year old son, but that memory is still a very fond one to him.


Barry once shared the story of when they lived in Canton, Ohio. He fondly remembered Bill playing "horse" to Barry's "Zorro" and he said he can hear his brother's horse noise. You know (editorial comment) I wouldn't be suprised if he had a tear come to his eye when he told me that.


It was Thanksgiving Day when Colleen brought Barry to my Connecticut home for dinner. When the door opened, there he stood. I asked Colleen to pinch me, I needed to know that this was for real. In true Barry Cowsill style, he entered my house and began dancing with me in my kitchen... whirling, twirling, and laughing. My life long dream had actually come true. Before and after dinner, Barry spoke so lovingly of his children. The look on his face, the twinkle in his eye, the words that he shared were definitely those of a proud father who longed to be with his children again. In the evening other members of my family stopped in to visit; they were amazed to find out who my dinner guest was. We all sat in the living room and it wasn't long before Barry picked up my husband's guitar and started playing. My living room turned into a concert hall; it was unreal! He played everything from Sinatra to Hendrix and everything in between. For me, the highlight of the evening came when Barry played "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things," Colleen and I sang. The following day was pretty much the same, great music, good stories, too much food, and lots of laughs. The only difference this time was that we took pictures...


Rest in peace, Barry Cowsill.

They found his body near the Chartres Street Wharf (New Orleans) on December 28th, but only recently completed the positive identification. It just showed up in the Baton Rouge paper.

What a f***ing waste.

I know that we say that about a lot of people dying too young, or dying tragically, or dying period. But this time it's very true.

Barry's about the only real "celebrity" that I've ever really known, and at one point in my life, about 10 years ago, he and his (now ex-)wife Debbie were a huge part of my life. Debbie & I worked together at my very first radio station, and they kinda adopted me into their little family, with their kids, Colin & Kiera, who I often babysat (yeah, I know, it sounds ludicrous, but they survived).

Barry had a lot of "issues," all of his life. None of his life was ever easy, and Debbie carried a h***uva load when she was with him. Neither of them were perfect, but they tried. Barry was one of those people for whom the phrase, "artistic temperment" was sorely inadequate. He was one of the funniest human beings I've ever known, and he had a rock star's temper from h***.

The Cowsills were a phenomenon when I was a fetus, so when I met him, I had no idea of the context. I got to know Barry as a person first, a musician second, and a child star last. He was a remarkably talented artist, with an imagination that I coveted. He was also a flaming f***tard, when he wanted to be.

They lived down in the ass-end of the Faubourg Marigny, right on the borderline with the Ninth Ward, when I knew them. The last time I heard of them was 2002, when a bartender I knew was their current babysitter (and with a grandchild from Debbie's older daughter from a previous marriage). Now I sit her trying to eulogize this bizarre, gifted, tortured, twisted, hilarious, kind and mercurial man, and I regret that I ever lost touch with them. Isn't that always the way?

I did, at least, appreciate them when they were in my life. I never think of Barry as a "him," though, since I was friends with he & Debbie both from the beginning. I didn't even know that they had divorced until I looked his death up online.

You lose touch with people, it happens. Then they die and you know that it was not a painless, comforting death to alleviate pain, you know that it was hell, you know that while he might've courted death all of his life, he wasn't ready to go. You just know. Barry's been talked down off of the Mississippi River Bridge before. But this... This is too f***ing weird, even for him.

I wish that I could tell y'all the story about Barry where he made me laugh so hard, so fast, that I really fell down, gasping for breath, but it truly is one of those "you had to be there" things, 'cause you had to KNOW Barry to understand why it was so funny. Besides, I don't think that his family, however estranged, would appreciate seeing it in print right now. (It's not smutty or lascivious, but it ain't fit for wakes.) But it is a memory that is permanently branded on my brain: the feelings, the rush of laughter, the visuals... What I wouldn't give to be able to explain it in a way that you could see it, to be able to transfer my brain cells to video...

All that I can really say is, Colin & Kiera, wherever you are, know that I'm thinking about y'all and that I've missed you both for a long, long time. And Debbie, honey, if you can ever find this, please holler at me. I am so sorry for your loss, because even with all the hell that y'all went through together, and all the joy, there will never be another Barry Cowsill. He broke that mold ALL to h***.

S. Coulter

Of course there were so many musicians who had the honor of playing with Barry.

Played with Bill and Barry at a club called Ego's in Austin TX in the late '70s.

Bill W.

Knowing Barry certainly enriched my life, I am proud to say I shared the stage with him and many good times as well. The last time he called me we laughed and laughed, that is how I will remember him. He isn't gone, just away.


I'm thankful to have known Barry. One of my favorite singers, ever. To be in the same room with him singing was such a treat and I'll cherish the memory of it. He was a truly gifted musician, and a very intelligent, philosophical, witty guy. I will sorely miss playing music with Barry, but will especially miss the long conversations we used to have.


I had the privilege of working with Barry on Nicky's record during this past summer. It's a rare gift to work with someone as creative and sweet as he was. The world has lost an amazing person with a remarkable talent.


I will always remember the times we all played together at Christie's Newport and at the Taste of RI. Barry and I had laughed about how we both wear hats when performing. He will be missed.


i remember back in the 70's when Billy and Barry were playing at a small bar in Warwick RI named the Office and they would let me get up and sing a few songs with them.we had such fun


I'll never forget the evening that I dropped by the Kerry Irish Pub after moving to New Orleans and heard Barry play great Sixties songs... he had a Hofner bass sitting there, I asked about it, and he asked me to join in. So we sat and played Beatles songs... he then handed me his guitar and told me to sing a few! That may have been the first time I ever performed in the French Quarter, and I've played there many times since. Just a great guy, one of a kind.


You were a good bandmate with Mustang Lightning. You played our last gig at the Mermaid Lounge, before we went on break. Now on our comeback, you played on track 11 of our record "Whiz Bang Whimsy". We'll always have that memory of your time with us as a souvenir.

Phil D.

I had the great pleasure of sharing a gig at Boston's in Stuart, Fl. with Barry in the early 80's. We'd pack up his equipment in my '70 Camaro and off we'd go to some of the best times I can remember. He was one of the warmest and funniest (not to mention talented!) people I think I have ever met! I still have picures of some of the work and a very unforgettable Thanksgiving dinner at the home of our friends Sharon and John.


Around 1990 or so, Barry and I played a duo at Crackers Pub in Beverly, MA. We did this 3 or 4 nights. He played acoustic and I played electric. I was amazed at how strong a singer he was and how he hammered the acoustic guitar when he strummed. I've never seen anyone break so many strings. He had so much power. He knew a million songs; he could just keep pulling out one great song after another. There are a handful of songs that will always remind me of him because of those gigs: Stones' 'Wild Horses', 'It's Only Rock n Roll' and Dire Straits' 'So Far Away'. It's sad to lose such an amazing talent and personality. I am glad to have shared the music and conversations with him.

Michael B.

I met Barry a couple of months before the storm. I didn't know who he was at the time and I was playing music at the Kerry Irish Pub in the Quarter. He was sitting at the bar listening to us and we were playing Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac. When it came time to sing my part of the song he just so happened to be walking by and jumped on the mic with me and sang the harmony with the band. It wasn't till later that night that I found who he was. I saw him in there quite abit after that and talked to him a few times. I can't exactly remember if it was the Friday before the storm or the week before the storm that I last saw him, but I remember him saying,"C'ya later". I couldn't believe what I was hearing when I heard the news. Everytime we play Rhiannon I will be reminded of the night he sang with us for those few seconds.

Paul F.

I've spent a lot of time in the years in between then and now playing in bands, writing songs, recording music etc. Even though I wasn't much a student, there's a lot that I learned from Barry through observation and through his example. Somewhere in my brain, he is part of the template that tells me how a song should sound, how singing should sound, even if I don't sound that way.

Barry B.

I met him in Santa Barbara California back in the early eighties ( I think.. Kind of a blurry time). At the time I was working for Paul Williams and Barry came out to the Williams house and we spent the weekend playing and recording music. Such a talented guy. I'm gonna have to see if I still have the tapes and then try to find a port-a-studio to listen to them.


I had the pleasure of meeting and playing w/ Barry on Cape Cod during the 80,s w/ The Provincetown Jug Band on a spit of sand at the end of the world, and I feel it was the best way to see him and remember him, in his element, on a stage playing for people as if that was all that mattered...and it truly was


Not really a story, but I found the following post:

I wrote that song about one of my influences, Barry Cowsill of the Cowsills (1960's group who's biggest hit was "Hair"), who unfortunately passed in the aftermath of Hurrican Katrina. I also wrote it as a message to my friend, his sister, Susan Cowsill, a fellow Cowsill band member.
Sean (a member of the brothers band 'A Fragile Tomorrow')

Here is a clip of that song and you can buy their CD at Stretch The Skies.

Walk Through The Water

Around 2004 my late friend and house guest Barry Cowsill came home after a Taste of Rhode Island thing, highly excited with a huge grin (I'm sure you who knew Barry can picture it). Barry met Salty and Mrs. Brine at the function and he asked for an autograph. Salty at first, according to Barry, didn't wish to bother as I think he must have been tired, but Barry said he pulled the "I'm Barry Cowsill and have always brushed my teeth and said my prayers" ploy. At that point Mrs. Brine pulled a picture out of her pocket book and Salty signed it. We would often speak about growing up in Newport and always remembered the carnivals that used to be held at King Park featuring Salty and Jeff. Barry jokingly busted my chops over that photo until a short time later while serving as a member of a cannon crew during the Gaspee Days Parade I saw Salty in a convertible and asked for an autograph, which he gave with a big smile. Guess he couldn't resist one of his "kids" dressed in a 1790s uniform. Later that day we placed both [photos] on the living room wall. I miss both those guys.

Mike from Newport

Salty Brine

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