The Cowsills In Magazines

The Cowsills Since Then ...
by David Bash
Volume 1, Issue 5, September/October 1995
Audities Magazine

The Original "Pop" Family Band

Many people remember the Cowsill name. After all, back in the late sixties they had three top 20 U.S. singles. The Rain, The Park. & Other Things (11/67), Indian Lake (7/68), and Hair (4/69). Their debut album on MGM spent 7 weeks in the top 40, and their In Concert album spent 10 weeks on the cherts, peaking at number 16 (Razor & Tie has reissued both of these with extra bonus tracks and good liner notes). The Cowsiils were the family band upon which TV's singing family premise (The Partridge Family and Brady Six) was most assuredly based. As a family, they were Bud and Barbara Cowsill (both now deceased) and their seven kids. Bill, the eldest. Bob, Barry, John, Paul, Susan, and Richard. Musically, it started in the early 60's with Bill and Bob, then only 7 and 6, playing Everly Brothers tunes on the guitars their dad had given them. Later, after recruiting brothers John and Barry on drums and bass in me wake of the British Invasion they recorded a single All I Wanta Be Is Me for Johnny Nash's Joda records before Bill was even out of high school. Real success came after Mercury Records producer Artie Cornfield became involved and had them record The Rain. The Park & Other Things (which he co-wrote), and convinced mother Barbara to sing on the record, resulting in a new family image and their first million selling single.

The next few years at the top of the charts everyone knows about. What is perhaps more important is that the Ccwsills continue to make exceptional music collectively under their family name and in a variety of musical endeavors as individuals. Without exception their music is well worth pursuing for all fans of melody and vocal harmony.

Left To Right:
Susan, Barbara, Paul, Bob
John, Bill, Barry
drawing by Jack Davis


Bob Cowsill looks pensive as he sits drinking coffee in Cables, a restaurant in the San Fernando Valley just down the street from Pickwick's pub, where he plays covers of oldies every Friday night He is presently reminiscing about the demise of the Cowsills. "Bill got tossed out of the band by my Dad for smoking pot. It was the night before we were going out on tour. It was the beginning of the end. The flame was gone. We did a couple more records (the albums "II XII" for MGM, the label on which they had made it big, and "On My Side" for London) but that was it. In the meantime, Bill got his own deal with MGM (making the Nervous Breakthrough album)."

The breakup of the band did not flow into a smooth transition for Bob, at least not initially. "For five years, nobody spoke to anybody, or at least I didn't. Artistically, I was ready to evolve, but didn't. I sold all my equipment to a guy from England for $50. He was really stoked! Then I went back to school, got an education, and got married. My first job was sweeping out a garage in Glendale (California). I enjoyed that a lot. I would read Hawaii by

James Michener while I swept, which cleansed my soul. This job was totally opposite to what I had been doing."

Throughout all of this, Bob did not give up his ambition, and the band ties renewed. "I kept writing. Then, in 1976, we ran into a guy named Chuck Plotkin (who would subsequently find fame and fortune as Bruce Springsteen's producer). He liked us a lot, and wanted to produce us. That started a three year relationship, and a three year apprenticeship for me on how to write a song, how to record a song, with Chuck being my teacher. We cut and mastered 15 tracks, some at Chuck's studio and some at Emmit Rhodes' studio. At this time, the band consisted of Paul, John, Susan, and myself (an incarnation that continued into the 90's). Then Susan fell in love with Dwight Twilley and this thing died in the water." Another contributing factor to the band's demise was Plotkin's blossoming association with Springsteen, to whom he made a permanent allegiance soon afterward. Despite these setbacks, Bob thinks these sessions were the "best stuff we've ever done. I listen to these tapes to this day, and the

people in my world who hear them agree with me." He reflects upon this period very pragmatically. "Our stuff was ill timed anyway. There was too much disco happening back then, and we didn't do disco."

Bob and the band took a break in the early '80s, and Bob took to doing cover material at pubs, which he does to this day. However, in the mid '80s, the third phase of the Cowsiils took shape. "In '85-'86 I started writing again, songs that I thought were real good. We got together and we decided whether to go out as an oldies band (doing their own '60s material) or take the hard road with new material. We chose the hard road and did a 3-song demo (She Said To Me, Some Good Years and Is It Any Wonder, the latter a brilliant song which subsequently appeared on the pop compilation Yellow Pills: Volume 1). We didn't even know what we'd sound like, but once we were done we were thrilled."

The band went out and did some small tours and benefit shows around the country, but their song lineup emphasized the old material. "We'd open with The Rain, The Park, and Other Things and close with Hair. But around '91-'92 we

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