New York – In the world of “now” music, ya gotta have a name. And brother, do they have them!
There’s the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Jefferson Airplane, the Mamas and the Papas, the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Kink, the Cowsills – the who?
If you don’t know what the Cowsills are, they are a singing group. They are also members of a family named Cowsill. They didn’t make up the name, they didn’t make up the relationship. And they are not just a couple of brothers who thought they’d give rock and roll a whirl. The actual singers are four brothers and their mother, but the entire family is involved in seven youngsters and two adults being Cowsills.
They are also one of the hottest new things in show business. Success began to hit them in a hot blast last summer, and in four months they have been signed with MGM records; they have put out one album, a single and are in the process of making a second album; they have appeared on the Tonight show; and most incredible of all, Ed Sullivan took one look at them, booked them to appear in October on his show and singed them to a 10-appearance contract through 1969.
So what’s so special about the Cowsills. Well, for one thing, they have a very nice sound. For another, they write their own songs, and the lyrics have meaning and the words are honest. And that’s the key to their impact; they are hones, clean and genuine. They come across as what they are: a large, musical American family that sings about things common to all of us.
But before they begin to sound like a folk-rock version of the Trapp family, it should quickly be noted that there is nothing sticky-sweet about the Cowsills. They are an on-the-ball, sensible, reasonably sophisticated family who customarily live in an outsize, overgrown 23-room mansion in Newport, R.I., that is straight out of Charles Addams. They aren’t disgustingly sweet nor are they hiding strange vices or overweening ambition beneath a phone apple-pie exterior.
The family consists of Bud and Barbara Cowsill and their children: Bill, 19, who does most of the songwriting and arranging; Bob and Dick 18; Paul, 15; Barry, 13; John, 11; and eight-year-old Susan, the only girl in the family. But the spring that winds the family very obviously is Barbara Cowsill, distressingly referred to in their official biography as the Cowsills’ “mini-mommy.”