LOS ANGELES - The Cowsills live in a very large house, which is a good thing because there are quite a few Cowsills, even with Dick off in Vietnam and Bill married and producing records on his own. Still left are parents Bud and Barbara, and Bob and Barry and John and Paul and Susan and Suba. Suba is a small black poodle who sleeps in a doll bed in Susan's room — or inside John's bass drum.
The Cowsill house is located about a mile from the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica. It's rambling Spanish style and numerous rooms give the feeling of spaciousness. The pool is surrounded by various-bicycles and water sports paraphernalia, and off to one side is the garage that they have made into a rehearsal room. The back yard looks out onto a golf course. The dining room table is often covered with boxes of freshly laundered shirts.
There is no maid, no hands-off furniture and every room has definitely been lived in. In the living room, where the high ceilings make for excellent acoustics, the Cowsills rehearse their vocal arrangements. The size and form of the room make their six voices sound like 59. I sat on a bright yellow chair, Suba asleep in my lap, and listened to two of the tracks from their next MGM album, "I Really Want to Know You" and "Silver Threads and Golden Needles," which also is their next single, on the flip of "Love — American Style," the theme from a new TV show.
WITH BILL GONE, Bob Cowsill leads the group. Father Bud, the non-singer of the family, serves in ihe valuable advisory capacity as emeritus producer and supervisor, I had never really thought of the Cowsills as more than a vocal group, but when they moved out to the garage to run through the songs with music, I was taken by surprise. With Bob on lead guitar, Barry in bass. John doing drum work and Paul playing organ, the Cowsills shape up very well musically. Even without vocals their charts stack up alone with a full sound that few would expect. So did the arrangement for "I Really Want to "Know You," and "Silver Threads" was done by the leaders of Twice Nicely, a group the Cowsills own and manage. Twice Nicely made its debut at the Matrix in San Francisco, the starting point for several super successful groups, just last week.
Their million-seller "Hair" topped the pop charts for weeks and opened up a whole new audience to the group, whose appeal previously had been in a fairly young audience. "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" will undoubtedly sell as many records and open still more minds to this fine group.
As a family, the Cowsills, despite their huge success and hectic schedules, are rather typical, in the nicest sense of the word. Barbara complains lightheartedly about housework, the young children complain about school, and seem to genuinely enjoy each other. They live far from the flashy plastic homes of Hollywood and welcome neighbors who come and listen to their music. None of the neighbors has complained about the noise coming from the Cowsill garage. In fact Bud Cowsill once received a letter after returning from out of town, with a complaint that the sender had missed the rehearsing while the family was away. Without being anything other than what 'they are, the Cowsills make it nice to be a group,