The Cowsills, the singing family that knows the harsh realities of instant success, will be appearing in Waco hall at 8 p.m. Thursday.
The group is made up of Bill, Bob, Barry and John Cowsill and their mother, Barbara Cowsill. The road managers, Dick and Paul Cowsill, also contribute to the family enterprise which is coordinated by Bud Cowsill, the father, with little sister Susan Cowsill, occasionally getting into the act.
The family spent three years building instruments, sound systems and amplifiers in their 22-room home on top of a Newport, R.I. hill. They went $100,000 in debt during this time and went to New York where they met a producer-writer, Artie Kornfeld, who eventually led them to MGM Records and a $250,000 budget.
Things got so bad for a while at the mansion that they had to chop up the furniture for heat. They ate marshmallows and chocolate for meals.
Besides the strict discipline enforced by Mrs. Cowsill, a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, Mother Cowsill, Barbara, is a driving force in the group.
Called the “mini-mom” by fans, the 5’2“ blonde wears mini-skirts and doesn’t appear to be the fortyish that she is.
Part of the parental dictum enforced in the group by the parents – besides keeping up with studies – is, “If we can’t eat it, play it or perform it, we can’t have it.”
Time Magazine, in its Oct 20, 1967, issue, said the group’s fresh and attractive approach and their closely-harmonized performances convey a great deal of their offstage charm.
Last summer the family was booked on a schedule of personal appearances throughout the country mostly at county fairs.
Their biggest hits have been “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” “We Can Fly” and “Indian Lake.”
They have been called the “Kool Aid Kids” and singers of “bubble gum rock” by some, the August 5, 1968, issue fo the New York Times aid. But that one reason for the Cowsills’ popularity is that they have generated a wholesome, all-American image that appeals to children as well as their parents and grandparents.
The Cowsills write some of their own music, but most of their songs are “golden oldies from the Top 40 hits, and they play them with all the nostalgia they have had time for,” a New York Times Reviewer said about their December performance at Town Hall in New York in 1967.
The combination of Bill, 21, on the guitar, Bob, 20, on the organ, Barry, 15, on the bass and John, 13, on the drums, is irresistible from the standpoint of “show business, Momism and the American family,” the Times reviewer said.