The Cowsills In Books

Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells
by Tommy James, Martin Fitzpatrick
Tantor Media
March 8, 2010

Me The Mob

Pages 116-117
While we were out on the road, Lenny Stogel and his wife, Myrna, discovered a great new group called the Cowsills while they were rehearsing on the family farm in Connecticut. The reason the band was so unique for rock and roll was that they were an actual family. The mother, brothers, and sister all performed while the father managed them. Lenny got them a deal with MGM, and Mike Curb, the golden boy, who at twenty-one years old became the president of the company, signed them. Artie Kornfeld, who would later go on to help create the Wood stock festival, produced them and wrote their first hit, "The Rain, the Park, and Other Things." In addition, Jimmy Wisner was brought in to do their arrangements.

Because of all the personal connections, I felt like I had a stake in this act. Every time I hear that first Cowsills hit, it evokes memories of that time and place. It was one of the greatest sounding records I ever heard. It was as powerfully emotional and evocative as "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys. When the NBC network had such a great success with the Monkees TV show, ABC wanted to get into the act and they conceived a show based on and starring the Cowsills, but there was so much haggling with the father that the deal fell through and the musical actress Shirley Jones and her son David Cassidy went on to star in The Partridge Family, which was one of the highest-rated television shows in the early seventies. David Cassidy is still performing the hits from the TV show to this day.

Lenny started a new company called Heroic Age Publicity and had Janis Murray run it out of 888 Eighth Avenue. Most of the people in my professional life were all living at 888. It was one of the great show business buildings in New York. Lenny lived there and so did Zac, Linda Eastman, Jimmy Wisner, along with other celebrities like Laura Nyro and Howard Keal. Then the Cowsills moved in on the ground floor. It was one big happy family, except the father drank heavily. He was an ex-serviceman, a big, burly guy who would occasionally come home crocked and get violent with the kids. A couple of them would come up to my place and hang out until the dust settled and then go back downstairs. That happened several times. The Cowsills were regulars on The Ed Sullivan Show that year. He adored them. They were good kids and it really was a nice family when the old man was not drinking.

Many people point to 1968 as a pivotal year in rock, but the sea change actually occurred in 1967. . . .

Page 142
That afternoon before the Hollywood Bowl, I met Mike Curb, who was my age, twenty-one, but was president of the MGM film studio. It was a few weeks before 2001: A Space Odyssey was released. He later became lieutenant governor of California under Jerry Brown. The Cowsills, who were managed by my agent, Lenny Stogel, were on the MGM label so we all got the cook's tour of the studio by Curb himself, who was very cool. He was very reserved and conservative and for a year or so had been quietly buying up MGM stock until he had amassed 51 percent of it. When Polygram/Deutsche Grammophone wanted to acquire MGM, much to the surprise of everyone, including the stockholders, Curb had the majority share and made a fortune in the buyout. I was very impressed. I was impressed by anyone who was actually being paid for their work.

Page 178
... While I was relaxing with a mai tai on the veranda, I got a call from Roulette from my secretary, Joanne. Artie Kornfeld was the Cowsills' producer, and a very successful one out of New York. Artie and I were friends and we even had the same attorney, Howard Beldock. ...

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