The Cowsills, the seven-member singing family now starring at the Flamingo Hotel, is the essence of what every man, woman and child in the world holds dear – whether or not they openly admit it – a real, honest-to-goodness family who dig each other.
The Cowsills share the Flamingo stage with comedian Dick Shawn.
The nitty-gritty of the Cowsill story goes back when – when Bud Cowsill, a young rebellious man met and fell in love with a young, sweet Barbara Russell. She was 14, he was 17. Bud was a Navy man, so he and Barbara were often separated. But obviously, their love was the real stuff and four years later they were married. That was in ’46. Two years later, Jan. 9, 1948, to be exact, William Joseph Cowsill, Jr. made his debut and established the Cowsill family as a threesome.
It didn’t stay that way for long, however, and along with Robert Paul Cowsill on Aug. 26, 1949, lagging behind brother Richard James by three minutes! The twins were joined by Paul Mitchell Cowsill on Nov. 11, 1951. Three years later, Barry Steven was born on Sept. 14, 1954, and then John Patrick on March 2, 1956. Then there was eight.
It would have been fine like that. Bud and Barbara were happy; their children were happy and they had certainly done their part in contributing to the population explosion. But one little thing was missing – a little girl. So, as if in answer to a prayer, Susan Claire Cowsill came along on May 20, 1959.
In the 20 years that Bud was in the Navy, he traveled to almost every part of the world. Each time he came home he would bring with him a different musical instrument. He didn’t force the children to like them; he didn’t even make them learn to play – he just gave it to them to do what they wanted with it.
By the time Bill was 17, Bob 16 and Barry 11, they were quite a swinging trio. They played folk, folk rock and popular standards. Rehearsals were always held in the Cowsill living room, not always to the delight of their neighbors. The boys would play at local teen clubs, church benefits and parties. If fact, they would play for anyone who wanted to hear them.
All this time, Barbara, who used to sing around the house, would sing folk numbers with the boys. Although her talents were for the most part confined to the family living room, she did venture out occasionally to participate in a Sunday folk act for the local church club or sing one or two numbers when the boys played on Saturday nights at a teen club.
It was much the same for the next two years. Bud signed the boys with Mercury Records and they cut a disc called “Most Of All.” The record caused quite a ripple, and for the first time, brought the Cowsills to light. Shortly afterwards the group recorded “The Rain, The Park and Other Things” and they were off and running.
Barbara had, by this time, joined the Cowsills as a full-fledged member in good standing, and recorded their first MGM album with them entitled “The Cowsills.”
In February ’68 the Cowsills took their first trip to Europe. They went to London for promotion and press receptions; they went to San Remo, Italy to perform at the Festival; they went to Milan, Rome and Bologna for promotion. When they returned, their second album was released entitled “We Can Fly.”