The Ingredients for pop music success today are more variable than at any other time in the industry's history. The unprecedented record buying power of the young generation has given the industry a fluctuation that can be both stimulating and alarming.
This situation has resulted in a market inundated by carbon copies of whatever is "Top Ten" at the moment. For every truly "new" sound which attains popularity, there are dozens of imitators waiting in the wings. It is only occasionally that this trend has resulted in new names which have something original to offer.
One such group, newly uncovered, is the Cowsills. Their unpretentious concern for legitimate melody lines and healthy lyrics is sufficient in itself to distinguish them from most other in vogue today. But they also are blessed with genuine talent and highly personable delivery.
The ingredients involved in this latest success story ranged from a "Munster-like mansion" in Newport, R.I., to a mini-mommy.
Bill, Bob, Barry and John comprise the nucleus of the group. Their mini-mommy, Barbara Cowsill, lends her sweet, clear voice to the boys' harmony whenever it is needed and wherever they might go. The road managers, Dick and Paul, who chose not to enter the performing end of the complex, keep equipment straight and in order throughout their journeys. There also is a Cowsill "baby" - Susan - and, finally, Mr. Cowsill who is stuck with the job of coordinating the ensemble.
Mr. Cowsill, Mrs. Cowsill and all concerned live in a 22-room mansion on top of one of the few hills in Newport, R.I. Ivy grows all over the premises which seem to have an aura of the "unreal."
For the past three years the family, which never let economic straits interfere with the youngsters' love of music, put all of its available funds into the tools of the trade - instruments, sound systems, amplifiers. It was at a time when their mortgage was about to be foreclosed that they were introduced to Artie Kornfeld, a New York writer and producer. He sensed that a show business "find" was in the air and immediately introduced them to Lenny Stogel, a talent manager. Stogel quickly determined the appropriate image for the Cowsills and led them to MGM Records, where their future is more than secure.
Bill Cowsill, the oldest of the brothers, writes his own lyrics and also has talent for poetry. Bob lends the group a naturally warm vocal touch and has a reputation for being a book worm. Barry was the original drummer for the Cowsills until brother John took over the beat and left Barry holding the bass guitar.
The group made immediate impact with its first recording, "The Rain, the Park and Other Things," which was a strong seller for many months and which has since inspired any number of instrumental versions.
The reception accorded this talented family by record fans has been unusually enthusiastic. Their first album "The Cowsills" (MGM SE 4498) has been in the upper reaches of the Billboard "Top LPs" chart for four months. Their newest single, "We Can Fly," is rapidly approaching the top of the "Hot 100" register, and MGM has announced it has many more ambitious recording projects in mind for the newly-instituted Cowsill corporation.