“This sure beats doing dishes,” said Barbara Cowsill happily as she signed autographs for a crowd surro9unding her table.
A blithe spirit with close cropped blonde hair, mini-skirt and a debatable 5’2”, she looked more like one of the kids than the mother of seven youngsters – most of whom tower over her – and a member of a family pop group appropriately named The Cowsills.
They appeared at “Where It’s At” on Beacon St., and when the whole family got together, they looked like a handsome young army. The group is new to the business although they have been perfecting their act for three years. Already, however, they have been signed by MGM Records, appeared on the Johnny Carson Show and now are on a national tour.
THEY COULD MAKE IT on look alone, but, fortunately, there also is talent. The performers consist of Bill, 19, lead guitarist, Bob, 18, on organ, Barry, 12, on bass and John, 11, on drums. Suzie, 8, a scene stealer is permitted to bang the tambourine on one number, and Barbara joins in on certain songs.
Dick and Paul serve as road managers and father Bud, who recently retired after 20 years in the navy, rides herd on the whole group.
Music was the hobby for this tight family and the kids all are self-taught. They also write much of their own material. The beginning training came from engagements in schools and colleges around their homebase of Newport, R.I., where they all live in a sprawling 22-room house which, according to Barbara, is best described as “Early Charles Addams.”
Bob attends Rhode Island University and Bill is at Rhode Island Junior College. When the group tours, there is a tutor and all of them are on the honor roll.
"THEY CAN MAINTAIN the group only if they maintain their marks,” Barbara said.
While many parents around the country beg for deafness when their youngsters play records or the radio – let alone instruments – it seemed most unusual to find adults participating in today’s music.
“We respect their appreciation for the music and they respect ours,” said Bud, a handsome, rugged-looking guy. “They’ve learned to like and to play some of the songs of our generation. I go this route with them. We’ve had a compromise and it works out well. GEORGE FORSYTHE