Note: Yes this also has Barry and John confused.
Seeing the four of the Cowsills on stage, people are inclined to ask —"Are they really brothers" — to which they normally reply... "Yeah, and that's only part of the family!" In addition to lead singer and rhythm guitarist Bill, 18; sixteen year old lead guitarist Bob; Barry, 11, fender bassman and John, who plays a lot of drums for ten years old — there are two other brothers and a sister at home in Middletown, Rhode Island.
Their musical "togetherness" began when their dad, a career U.S. Navy man, returned from a voyage to Spain with several guitars that he had picked up there. His offspring eagerly experimented and soon mastered the instruments.
When father Bill retired from the Navy and had more time at home, a serious approach to musical careers was decided upon and the family group was launched — sans brothers Dick and Paul, who prefer the sports field, mother Barbara, whose career as wife and mother is fulltime, and daughter Susan, age six and undecided.
Bill and Bob — the "old men" of the group-are self-taught and very polished instrumentalists and vocalists after eight years of practice and dedication. The "babies" as they call brothers John and Barry showed an early flair for entertaining and their interest was carefully tutored and nurtured by the elder brothers.
Within an amazingly short period of time they became able to maintain themselves within the group without insult to any audience. The younger Cowsills show great imagination, a talent for improvisation and an unspoiled warmth that is readily imparted from the stage.
Their compositions — and they are now working on their 60th — defy pigeonholing. They run from ballads to rock 'n roll and their performances are not limited to the contemporary rock scene. Although they are very comfortable in this idiom, it's a pleasant departure for both them and their audiences to change the pace with a ballad or novelty song.
For the past year, the Cowsills have been very active playing college concerts and performing as a dance band at fraternity parties at home and as far from their own little Rhode Island as Pennsylvania and upstate New York. Network TV audiences were introduced to them via the NBC TODAY show.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, the group provided the music for a massive audition held in Central Park, N.Y. The afternoon's aim was to select sixty Go Go Girls from among hundreds of applicants to work for the Park Departments' projected Summertime shows to be staged in the park.
The event was a prelude to this Summer's Sound Blast '66 to be held in Yankee Stadium. Bob and Bill have written the Sound Blast theme song and the group will be featured at the massive outdoor show which stars Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, The Marvelettes and other top flight acts.
In this company of giants, the Cowsills are holding their own and doing exceptionally well — which is why they call themselves the nation's best known unknowns — an appendage their recordings hopefully will amend!
TV sets and transistors may have replaced the old upright piano as a family activity, but self-styled music for the Cowsill family has proved to be both a unifying activity and the prelude to an exciting and rewarding career.