Newspaper Articles

Singing Cowsills Never Had a Lesson
April 16, 1968
The LA Times
Los Angeles, California


SINGING COWSILLS - Five of the nine Cowsills, pop music group, give impromptu concert. Front row, from left, are Bill, John, Paul and Barry. In back are Bob and Bud, father and silent partner. Photo - NelsonTiffany

“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, televisions 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-yer-old Sue. With the temporary exception of Dick, who is in the Army at Ft. Gordon, Ga., the family works together and plays together.

Variety of Instruments

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 this talent?’ So I did,” said Cowsill, The group at first consisted 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 Eight Avenue.

“But two aren’t big enough 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 father 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. “And I usually keep ‘em in line,” said Bob. “We really don’t miss much school,” said Barry. “We keep up fine.”

Touring with six or seven youngsters is not as monumental a task as most mothers might find it. Each Cowsill, including Sue, packs and carries his own suitcase and each is responsible for his own laundry and dry cleaning.

“Yeah, Bill forgets to send his shirts out all the time but I don’t lend min to him anymore,” said Bob. “Bill has even taken dirty shirts out of the laundry and ironed them,” chided his father.

None of the Cowsills has ever had a music lesson nor can they read music although they can create their own. And the elder Cowsills are at a loss to explain their children’s talent.

“It was just there, I guess,” Cowsill said.

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