Cowsills are quite a family
by Sarah Zillmer
May 5, 1969
COWSILLS PERFORM - Mother Barbara Cowsill and one of her sons performs Saturday night at the Reed Green Coliseum at USM as climax even of Discover Southern Day. Numbers on program ranged from their current hit, "Hair." to an old favorite, "That's What You Get For Loving Me."
AUTOGRAPH TIME - Autographing for fans at the after-the-show press party, one of the Cowsill boys, Bob, signs the group's real name - Cowsill. Included in the picture are, from left: Kathy Kirkpatrick, daughter of E. W. "Bud" Kirkpatrick, director of student activities at Southern; and USM radio TV students Kay Holder, Marsha Theidel and Vaughn Wilson (Staff phots by Jim Ellis)
“They worked up the act and THEN invited me to join them,” explained Barbara Cowsill, mother and sometimes member of the nationwide hit group which performed here Saturday night.
Barbara has six boys and one little girl and was a housewife for 20 years before the boys formed the group and the family hit the bigtime. Mr. Cowsill is a retired navy man who spent 20 years in the service an acts as manager of the group. Both parents travel with the group every time they go out and the children spend almost every Monday to Friday at the professional school they attend in Hollywood, Calif.
When asked where they would go from here, the boys answered, “Home to L.A.,” with Mrs. Cowsill adding, “They’ll be back in school Monday.”
“We make every effort to keep our family life just as normal as possible,” went on the mother of the nationally famous group. “We’re just a family of seven kids and two parents – no stars. The older kids watch the younger ones for any signs of a ‘star complex’ and stop it fast.
“Sure the kids fight; after all they’re seven normal kids. We separate them into two station wagons after we’re off the plane.”
Mrs. Cowsill said the group travels commercial airplane and puts chairs together in the airport waiting rooms so the children can sleep. “They can sleep anywhere anytime.”
Four of the boys, Barbara and, of course little Susan, the baby, now nine years old, make up the current count of Cowsills on stage. One boy is in Vietnam and one at the Cowsill home with a new wife. “We can’t get them to leave home,” shrugged Barbara.
At least part of the group’s charm Saturday night at the Reed Green Coliseum lay in this strong family tie. They all look alike and the bond of love between them is evident in their teasing conversation on stage the reference to their father as “the only member of the group without talent.” And the proud glow Barbara gets watching the brood perform.
“None of us ever had a lesson,” she explained. “My husband used to bring back musical instruments from Europe when he came home on leave, and the kids learned to play them. They all started to play the guitar when they were around eight, and then each one was brought into the group.
“None of them intends to stay in the group for life; we look on this all as a lot of fun and a means to earn money that will insure each kid of the kind of education he wants. One plans to be a doctor and another to teach.”
That’s the Cowsills, just a normal all-American family … but what a family!