PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- William Cowsill, the lead singer of the popular 1960s band The Cowsills which inspired the TV series "The Partridge Family," has died, family members said Sunday. He was 58.
News of Cowsill's death on Friday reached his family shortly after a memorial service in Newport honoring his younger brother, Barry, who died after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in August.
"We couldn't believe it ourselves," said his brother, Richard Cowsill. "It was a shocker. It caught us all off-guard."
The exact cause of death was not immediately known. William Coswill, who lived in Calgary, Canada, had been suffering from emphysema, osteoporosis, Cushing syndrome and other ailments, according to another brother, Robert Cowsill.
The Cowsills -- the inspiration for the TV series "The Partridge Family" -- recorded a series of top hits between 1967 and 1970, including "The Rain, The Park and Other Things" and "Hair." They also were spokespersons for the American Dairy Association, appearing in commercials and print ads for milk.
Four Cowsill brothers played in the band: Barry on bass, Bill on guitar, Bob on guitar and organ, and John on drums. Their mother, Barbara, and little sister, Susan, eventually joined the group.
The band's career began in Newport, where by 1965 they had a regular gig at a club. They were spotted by a producer for NBC's "Today" show who booked them for an appearance that led to a record deal.
The band had an acrimonious breakup in the 1970s. William, the oldest member, moved to Canada about 30 years ago and played in a band called "Blue Shadows," Richard Cowsill said.
He is survived by two sons, Travis and Del.