THERE have been many family businesses, from small restaurants to large corporations, but one of the most unusual is that run by the Cowsills. Four of the boys - Bill, Bob, Barry and John are the nucleus of the group that sings for its supper. But their mother often adds her voice to the boys', especially when the group is on tour. Two more Cowsill brothers, Dick and Paul, are in charge of the equipment both at home and on tour. Dad Cowsill has the monumental task of coordinating the whole organization, while the youngest member of the clan, Susan, puts up with constant teasing from all her brothers.
Home base for the Cowsills is a twenty-two room monster mansion in Newport, Rhode
Island. From the outside, the house looks like something left over from a horror movie. The
interior is pretty wild, too, especially the 1912 stove that is as tempermental as a colicky
baby. "We love this old place,” Mrs. Cowsill said. “It’s really the perfect house for us even
though it does look a little peculiar.”
Money was very scarce in the Cowsill household a few years ago and they were in danger of
losing the house that they all were so happy in. They came to New York, hoping to get some
financial help, and they met Artie Kornfeld. a producer and writer. He knew exactly what
to do for the Cowsills – he introduced them to Lenny Stogel, a successful talent manager. The next thing the Cowsills knew, they were signed by a record company and they soon became one of the most popular singing groups in the country.
“ I still don't understand exactly how it happened,” Mrs. Cowsill said. “Of course, we all
like music and we’ve been singing together since the kids were old eough to talk, but I never
dreamed we could make money doing what comes naturally.”
So far. the money the group earned has gone into additional musical equipment. "The
House,” Mrs. Cowsill said, "is still pretty bare. Furniture is something we never seem to get
around to buying."
Bill Cowsill, the oldest boy, is not quite twenty-one. He's a student Rhode Island College
surprisingly, he just gets passing grades in music. But English is another matter! He writes poetry and prose and he's the one who writes the lyrics for many of the group's songs. A well organized person, BilI also has a great sense of humor. He has the ability to make people enjoy themselves. Despite his natural seriousness, Bill is far from being a drag.
Next comes Bob Cowsili, a warm, natural person with a wild sense of humor. He's always on hand when crazy things happen in the Cowsill household, but he also likes to slip away and be by himself occasionally. He spends a lot of time reading and he's a very good student-all As and Bs.
The whole family agrees that Barry Cowsill is a natural-born entertainer. He's a happy sort
of fellow who makes people feel good just to be in the same room with him. When he
laughs," someone once said, "his freckles Iaugh, too!', Barry was the original drummer for
the group, but when John was old enough to take over the job Barry switched to the bass
guitar and singing. Barry is an honor student at school.
John Cowsill is the youngest of the performing brothers. Not quite thirteen, he handles the
drums like a veteran. His great ambition at the moment is to have a motorcycle and he’d also
like to learn to fly. John is the sort of boy who, once he makes up his mind to do something,
usually manages to achieve his goal. This freckle-faced young man has a very healthy
philosophy: "I'm happy and I just want to be me.”
All in all, the Cowsill clan enjoys singing whether it’s just a family gathering around one
of the many fireplaces in their fantastic home or in front of audiences all over the country.
The Cowsills' family business, making music, is one that brings pleasure to a great many
people, and that's the best kind of business to have!