Newspaper Articles

Cowsills Show's a Scream
November 29, 1969
Journal Herald
Dayton, Ohio

The crowd was mostly the age group Ann Landers worries about – the pre-puberty set that’s too young for mixed parties.

The Cowsills were scheduled to start their concert at 8 last night, but by 7 the Memorial Hall lobby was starting to fill up with braces, freckles, glasses, skinny legs and Instamatic cameras belonging to the mini-boppers – mostly girls – who’d come to scream.

“Barry and John eat that stuff up. They love it,” said 20-year-old Bob Cowsill, lead guitarist for the Cowsill family, with a grin.

Bob, singing mom Barbara, Paul, 18, Barry, 15, John, 13, Susan, 10, and dad William, who manages the group, were scattered in various dressing rooms and halls backstage.

It was 20 ‘till eight and a group of fans who’d signed a petition to bring the Cowsills to Dayton had come back to meet the boys and to give Mrs. Cowsill and Susan presents and they stood around and screamed with the thrill of it all.

They first concert had ended about two hours earlier and the four boys had already doned on 12 cartons of milk and one of the numerous birthday cakes fans had baked for Paul.

The kids all have longish mops of dark hair and Mom wears a miniskirt sometimes when they sing, but they still get this wholesome, bubble gum rock image. Some even call them the Kool-Aid Kids.

Do they mind?

“I don’t care what they call it as long as they buy it,” says Bob, but the way he says it, right out, you know it’s not that crass. Susan’s over in the corner oohing and aaahing over the fuzzy, white bear the group of fans gave her and is trying to think of a name.

The family’s been a professional group for seven or eight years, hitting the teen tune charts with such numbers as “Indian Lake,” “We Can Fly” and a shiney-clean version of the title song from “Hair.”

How’d they get started?

“There was nothing planned about. It just happened,” says slender mod Mom Barbara. “Yeh, I can just see you and Dad sitting around one day saying, ‘Hey, let’s form a rock group,’ “ adds Bob.

Barry and John are still outside the dressing room rapping with their adoring fans. Susan’s still trying to think up a name for the Teddy bear.

The family, which also includes Bill Jr., 21, and Dick, Bob’s twin brother, divide their non-stage time between a home in Santa Monica, Calif., and a 23-room “Munster mansion” in Newport, R.I. The kids all go to professional schools and the family tours mostly on weekends during the school year.

Sure, they get tired of traveling around like that, but it’s kind of fun being hamburger join connoisseurs and knowing all the good places to get your laundry done in every town and ordering 12 cartons of milk and a knife and fork from room service, say various Cowsills.

Paul and Bob like the college concerts – a little more restrained than Day’s version – and Susan Cowsill likes being on a televisions special with Dean Martin.

The family hopes to get a televisions how of its own next season, says Dad William, whom someone once described as looking like a “tough Irish cop.” He was in the Navy 20 years before he started devoting full-time to managing the Cowsills

A couple of uniformed men are easing the shrilling girls out of the hall. It’s almost time for the show.

With the pressures of show business, constant travel, that racket outside the dressing room . . . do the 40-ish parents suffer from a generation gap?

“We weren’t fortunate enough to have one,” Barbara says.

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