The Cowsills In Books

Station to station: the history of rock 'n' roll on television
by Marc Weingarten
Pocket Books November 1, 2000


Page 211-216:

The music business, too, had its own subset of family bands that catered to pop fans who felt themselves estranged by psychedelic rock and emerging heavy metal behemoths like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Sibling singing groups like the Osmonds, the Jackson Five, and the Cowsill sold million of records by catering to an audience that found some measure of comfort in bands whose family ethic stressed working together for the greater good.


Few TV producers reaped more success from unsullied domestic virtue than Bernard Slade. As a writer and producer on such shows as Bewitched and The Flying Nun, Slade was already an old hand at wresting mild laughs out of quaintly prosaic familial situations when he had the notion to create a TV show about a family that kept it together by playing pop music. Inspired by the Cowsill and The Sound of Music, Slade in 1969 sold the idea of a singing family to Columbia's TV division Screen Gems, the same company that had produced The Monkees.

Slade and co-executive producer Bob Claver, who had produced the Bobby Sherman vehicle Here Come the Brides in the late 1960s, originally thought of casting the Cowsills, who had scored two top ten hits with 1967's "The Rain, the Park, and Other Things" and a cover of the theme from "Hair" in 1969. But the band couldn't act, and were perhaps a touch too physically homogeneous to cast a wide enough demographic net. "I think it would have made us crazy," observes Susan Cowsill, "and we're not actors, as [the producers] found out pretty quickly upon their visit to our house."


Given the fact that one of Farrell's specialties was bubblegum pop (as music publisher, he also represented the writers of Paper Lace's "The Night Chicago Died" and the Cowsills' "Indian Lake"), it only followed that Columbia's label subsidiary Bell Records would hire Farrell to be musical producer of The Partridge Family.

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