Newspaper Articles

Former housewife reflects on Cowsill's musical success
September 30, 1969
Daily News
Muncie, Indiana

A retired Navy boiler technician who calls himself “The babysitter” is the man behind the creation of Cowsill Productions.

After spending twenty years in the service, “Papa Cowsill” conceived the idea of a family singing group. He himself can’t sing a note, play an instrument or hum a tune according to Barbara Cowsill, his wife. She added that the bo9ys won’t even let him go on stage.

But “Papa Cowsill” is quite a businessman, according to his family. He took his boys, who are self-taught with no training to New York for a recording.

Mrs. Cowsill, who was a housewife for twenty years, hadn’t even thought about a singing career. “I was conned into that,” was her statement regarding her musical debut. “My husband had just wanted my voice on record, she commented, “and after that first recording, ‘the Rain the Park and Other Things,’ I haven’t been home since.”

“I get lonesome for my stove sometimes,” she reflects.

In explaining how the family because a singing one, Mrs. Cowsill stated that her “boys” were musically inclined and that this skill “seemed like a gift rather than a talent” so they “chose to share their gift, to give it to someone else.”

She attributed the group’s success to everyone’s support. “If they didn’t buy our records or want to hear our songs, would we be successful?” she asked me.

The mother of seven children said that this was their first time in Muncie and that the audience was “fantastically receptive.” The fact that the concert was a sell-out was an added incentive to the boys to perform better, Mrs. Cowsill explained.

She added that the family prefers to perform before a college crown “because with younger crowds there is just screaming.”

"Someone’s concoction” was her explanation for an aunt being in the singing group.

Mrs. Cowsill termed country and western music, “the coming thing.” She said they were injecting this “country rock” which they loved into their own recordings. She cited their new release “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” as a prime example.

Her favorite recording is “Time.” She commented that she liked its melody and “its nice story.” “It’s about me, “she declared, “I know a lot about time.” She continued that her favorite recording artists are Peter, Paul and Mary which the Beatles are the favorite of the boys.

Her greatest happiness career-wise, she declared, was performing on the Ed Sullivan Show. “It was just like arriving there after all that hard work,” she remarked.

“The boys and Susan don’t have a nervous bone in their bodies,” Mrs. Cowsills commented, “I envy them.”

The kids just fight, wrestle and tease before and after a performance, the petite, brown eyed mother said, “We have no omens or superstitious traditions we go through before an engagement.”

Regarding the generation gap Mrs. Cowsill stated, “You just do the best you can and hope it can build a good strong character. If that’s enough, only time will tell.”

“As a parent, you hold your breath and pray to God that … your children will walk away from the temptations of pot,” Mrs. Cowsill remarked. She continued by saying that the Cowsills don’t use drugs to achieve a “turned-on” state of mind in order to perform.

The boys play baseball and football and date steadily, but don’t go steady. Bob is a twenty-year-old junior at Hollywood Professional College where he is majoring in drama. In January he will attend UCLA.

Bill Cowsill, who is married, formerly sang with the family. He is now producing the Osman Brothers and their recording, “Make the Music Flow.”

Dick, Bob’s twin, was the group’s road manager before he joined the service. He just came home and put in for another year of duty in Vietnam. He leaves the first of October. After the service, he wants to attend law school.

John, Paul, Barry and Susan stated school Monday in Los Angeles.

Asked if they planned to perform a return engagement, Mrs. Cowsill stated “We hope to come back; all you have to do is ask.”

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