The Cowsills In Magazines

"There Was Music in Us And It Was Just Aching To Get Out"
Feb-Apr 1968
Screen and TV Album Magazine


• Modern music fans had heard and dug their hit record, The Rain, the Park and Other Things, but it wasn't until they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show that most people realized the Cowsills were not a shaggy haired rock 'n' roll group, but a beautiful, normal family consisting of a "mini mom," four strapping sons and a lively eight-year-old daughter. The studio audience overwhelmingly approved. Ed Sullivan was so impressed he signed them for nine more appearances and a lot of talk is now going around to the effect that the Cowsills are becoming the Von Trapp family of the "now generation." If this is so, all that remains is to make a movie about them, with Julie Andrews.

Actually, the family's background is so full of drama and excitement it would make a very good picture. And it could be filmed right in the old Cowsill "monster mansion," which looks like a movie set anyway. Located at the top of one of the Newport, Rhode Island Hills, this 22-room house with its hanging screens, broken windows and 3-foot-high lawn has seen great , love, happiness and discouragement among its present occupants and is the birthplace of the fresh new Cowsill sound. It was there, four years ago, that Bud Cowsill, a retired Naval Officer, decided that his four freckle-faced, guitar-strumming sons were ready for more than charity shows. With his other two sons working as road managers and Susan acting as mini mascot he plunged the whole bunch into a full time effort to reach the top.

Success didn't come easily. Since all available money was put into the act there were times when the Cowsills had to survive on nothing but chocolate and marshmallows and were forced to burn pieces of furniture to keep from freezing to death. In addition to enduring these hardships, the kids had to keep up their studies and practice to build their repertoire to 500 rock, country and pop songs. They learned to live by a single dictum: "If we can't eat it, play it or perform with it, we can't have it."

Just as the marshmallows were beginning to run out the lightning they had prayed for so long finally struck. MGM signed them to a recording contract and The Rain, etc. appeared on the charts in the number 50 spot. Had it gone down instead of up, the Cowsills could have been finished. But Bud staunchly declared, "They're going to be a top recording group, there's no question in my mind. There never has been," and as if to echo his words the song jumped to number 4 and is still climbing as of this writing. Far from being stunned by their luck, the family took it all as if it were the most natural thing in the world. As Barbara told Ed Sullivan, "There was all this music inside and it just had to come out." It was as simple as that.


Although the kids resemble each other with their big brown eyes and multitude of freckles, they're all complete individuals. The oldest, 20-year-old Bill, is the creative one. He just gets passing grades in his music courses at Rhode Island College but he writes his own lyrics, as well as poetry. Bob, 18, is considered to be "the bright one," due to the fact that he is an all A and B student and often disappears for hours only to be found in some hidden nook of the mansion curled up with a book. Barry, at 13, is called a natural born entertainer and is at his best when in front of a camera or with large groups of people. Once the Cowsills' drummer, he presently plays guitar and sings. 11-year-old John is the current drummer and, like any boy, longs for a motorcycle and wishes he could learn to fly. Susan, now 8, only recently joined the group but she's already proven she's as talented and as much of a trouper as the rest. Barbara, 39, lends her voice to the kids' harmony whenever it is needed, but her main job is to be mommy and to keep her brood happy and healthy.

Now that their diligence has paid off, the Cowsills can't simply sit back and enjoy the profits from their hit record. They know how quickly new groups are forgotten and in order to keep themselves in the public eye they're - busy making nationwide personal appearance tours. It may not be normal family living but, what the heck. The Cowsills are together, they love each other, they're happy—and their story would make a wonderful movtel

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