Newspaper Articles

Curtain Call - Cowsills Family on Top of the Pop
February 5, 1968
Omaha World Herald
Omaha, Nebraska

New York - At the top of the pop are the Cowsills - four singing brothers, their mother and sister. The group's recording will earn them a million dollars in 1968 television want them for a series and Hollywood is flirting.

How did they get where they are so quickly? Bud Cowsill, the head of the family, talked about it at Alfredo's.

"For years the kids had sung for charity and church things," he said. "After I got out of the Navy four years ago, we decided to go for broke. We bought a 27-room house in Newport, R.I., and I borrowed something over 100 thousand dollars which we spent on living and promotion. Everything was done for a reason.

“Initially, I took three of the boys on the road – they were our shock troops. Many months we didn’t make any money, but we kept moving. The Today show was our first big break. We were playing at a hotel in Newport and a gentleman approached me and flatly said he’d like to see us on the Today show. I didn’t put much faith in it, but two days later it was set up.”

Today Special

Monday, February 26, the Today show will devote a one-hour segment to the Cowsills. Only the performing members of the family will be seen, the mother, Barbara; Bill, who is the music director and songwriter; Bobby, who composes with Bill; Barry, Johnny, who is the drummer, and 8-year-old Susan.

There are, in all, seven children. The other two boys, Dick and Paul, are stage manager and tour manager for the group.

“I feel fortunate I have seven children and I can be working with them,” Mr. Cowsill said. “Barbara went into the group about five months ago – she has a marvelous voice – and she’s getting more fan mail than some of the boys. People ask me, ‘Aren’t you exploiting your children?’ My answer is, ‘Why not? They exploited me for 19 years.’”

“I like to think they enjoy their work and they lead me to think they do. They don’t enjoy brushing their teeth, or going to school, or changing their socks, but we encourage them to do those things. All of them love to travel, they’re nomads at heart.”

Almost Lost

Bud Cowsill, who was born in Providence, R.I., joined the Navy at 17 and concluded his 20-year hitch as a chief boilerman. He almost lost the Newport home before money began pouring in from their first record with MGM, “The Rain, The Park and Other Things,” which sold a million copies. Their album, “the Cowsills,” is approaching the million-dollar mark in sales. A single, “We Can Fly,” written by Bill and Bobby, is on its way up.

“None of the kids read music, they’ve never had professional training,” Bud said. “We’ve taken two apartments, in the same building in New York, so they can attend the Professional Children’s School. Most of our activity is concentrated in the summer, but we will go to the San Remo Music Festival in Italy in February and we’ll play some dates in London.

“I don’t worry too much about their formal education, they’ll just flow into it. By the time Susan is 12 years old, she’ll be a millionaire. We have five hundred or sex hundred songs that we can do and we’re not dependent on any particular style. We don’t coach them much, we just turn them loose on stage. We don’t want spit and polish.”

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