At the top of pop right now are the Cowsills – four singing brothers, their mother and sister. The group’s recordings will earn them a million dollars in 1968, television wants them for a series, Hollywood is flirting.
How did they get so quickly where they are? Bud Cowsill, head of the family talked about it with candor.
“For years the kids had sung for charity and church things,” he said in New York. “After I got out of the Navy four years ago, we decided to go for broke. We bought a 27-room house in Newport, R.I., and I borrowed something over $100,000 which we spent on living and promotion. Everything was done for a reason.
“Initially, I took three of the boys on the road – they were out shock troops. Many months we didn’t make any money, but we kept moving. The Today show was our first big break. We were playing at a hotel in Newport and a man approached me and flatly said he’d like to see us on the Today show. I didn’t put much faith in it, but two days later it was set up.”
The Today show devoted a one-hour segment to the Cowsills. Only the performing members of the family were seen – the mother Barbara; Bill, 20, who is the music director and a song-writer; Bobby, 18, who composes with Bill, Barry, 13; Johnny, 11, drummer, and 7-year-old Susan.
There are, in all, seven children. The other two boys, Dick and Paul, are stage manager and tour manager for the group.
Cowsill, who was born in Providence, R.I., joined the Navy at 17 and concluded his 20-year hitch as a chief boilerman. He almost lost the Newport home before money began p9ouring in from their first record with MGM, “The Rain, The Park and Other Things,” which sold a million copies.
“None of the kids read music, they’ve never had professional training,” Cowsill said. “We don’t coach them much, we just turn them loose on stage.”