"We're raising a family, that's all," said William (Bud) Cowsill, father of seven. "And this is a good way to do it."
For the singing Cowsills, it is a good way. It's a bit unusual but for them, it’s fun, it’s exciting, it's lucrative and it keeps the family together. It means trips to Europe, U.S. tours, weekend concert dates, television appearances, record cuttings, photo sessions, interviews- and homework.
The Cowsills, the pop music group which has just completed a successful five-day appearance at Disneyland, include father Bud, mother Barbara, Bill, 20, Bob and Dick, 18- year-old twins, Paul, 16, Barry, 13, John, 12, and 8-year-old Sue. With the temporary exception of Dick, who is In the Army at Ft. Gordon, Ga., the family works together and plays together.
They play a variety of guitars, drums and organs and they all sing, except for the father. " I can't even hum," he grinned.
The group has won popularity singing songs as old as "Louise" and "Diane" and as new as their own "In Need of a Friend' and ' We Can Fly."
“Our new life Is an education in itself,' said Mrs. Cowsill. "After 20 years of being a housewife and mother - wow, what a change."
The family became a music group after Cowsill's retirement from the Navy five years ago.
The kids have always been very close to music and one day a neighbor, one of these knowledgeable guys, said 'Why don't you do something with all talent?' So I did,' said Cowsill. The group at first of the six sons, with Cowsill, acting as manager.
“Mom - she's the novice, and Sue joined us six months ago," said Bill.
“Yes, they wanted to come along so we told them, 'You get in this boat, kiddos, you row,' " Cowsill added.
When the Cowsills aren't traveling, they live in a 24-room home in Newport, R.I., and two apartments on New York's Eighth Avenue.
"But two aren't big ,though for us,' said Mrs. Cowsill. “We're waiting for a third."
Bill and Bob attend Pace college in New York. Bill is studying English ("to Straighten his out," his father added) and plans to become a high school teacher, Bob, a liberal arts major, would also like to teach. The younger children are all students at the Professional Children's School in New York; when necessary they do their schoolwork through correspondence courses.
None of the Cowsills has ever had a music lesson nor can they read music although they create their own. The elder Cowsills are at a loss to explain their children’s talent.
"It was just there, I guess,” Cowsill said.