Fortunately, Mrs. Barbara Cowsill likes teen-agers.
As a singing mother in one of the hottest new rock groups to hit records, she’d be out of her parental mind witho9ut her long-standing affection for adolescents.
Pixie-ish Barbara never planned to join her four singing sons in their professional venture – she was, she claims, “conned into it.”
“They asked me to come to New York,” says the once Newport, R.I., housewife, “to add my voice to their album. That was in June and I didn’t see our ‘Munster castle’ in Newport till October.”
The secret of the Cowsills’ success, both professionally and personally, believes buoyant Barbara, is their closeness – everyone from Dad to 8-year-old Susan works.
“No freeloaders are allowed,” states Mrs. Cowsill. “The whole family is always together. That way, wherever we are is home and we never get lonely.”
But the family of nine – with four of them over 6 feet tall, almost smothered to death for nearly six months while they crowded into a three-room New York apartment at the beginning of their career.
They have since moved into two apartments and are expanding to a third, relates Barbara. “We miss our Newport home terribly,” she mourns, but feel we should remain here (New York City) for the next year to be available.”
Their “home” consists of a 150-year-old, 23-room mansion at the beginning of Newport’s famed “Tem-Mile Drive” Two additional buildings on their 6 ½ acres add 18 more rooms.
The kitchen was 150 years old, too, confides Mrs. Cowsill, “without cabinet one. The stove was a 1917 vintage with three ovens, a bread warmer and six burners – I lighted it with a prayer.”
Much to the masculine Cowsills’ dismay, she’s splurging on modernization “Men just don’t understand those things. The boys flipped a coin over who would get the old stove.”
Audience reaction to the Cowsills’ “mini-mommy,” as she is sometimes billed, is heart-warming, not negative, relates the “nearly 40-year-old.” Teen-agers are quite impressed the boys “allow” their mother and younger sister to sing with them, she reports.
None of the Cowsills have had formal musical training – they simply grew up harmonizing says their formerly kitchen-singing mother. Previously the family (to appear at Shady Grove here Dec. 29) sang and played for its own amusement.
Their satisfaction had not diminished since their single, “The Rain, the Park, and Other Things,” has rocketed them into the spotlight.
We’ve always had the music,” comments Barbara Cowsill, “performing is just bringing the world into our family.”