KETTERING – The Cowsills, who sang the 1968 hit single “Indian Lake,” were in Ohio recently to play a concert at the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering. That song went to number 10 on the Billboard charts in 1968 in America, number 3 in Canada and was actually number one in New Zealand. The popular, catchy tune put Indian Lake on the map, making it known worldwide.
Since then, the lake has adopted the song as its own with the blessing of the band and typically plays it over loudspeakers at most of the lakes’ popular events such as HarborFest, the Beach Spectacular, Wacky Boat Races and the Miss Indian Lake Pageant.
The song has become synonymous with Indian Lake, Ohio and stands alone as the “anthem” for the lake. The group still tours yearly and they always play their famous ‘Indian Lake’ song at each appearance.
When asked after the concert if they thought they could be considered ambassadors for Indian Lake, the band jubilantly shouted out to the many fans waiting in line for autographs, “Yes, we want to be ambassadors for Indian Lake!” And then they immediate announced and declared, “We ARE ambassadors to Indian Lake,” followed with a final declaration of, “We are THE Indian Lake ambassadors’” echoed by all members of the band. “We love Indian Lake,” said Paul Cowsills.” Indian Lake, Ohio is our favorite Indian Lake,” he added.
So, with that being said, by the Cowsills, it should put to rest any controversy as to which Indian Lake (as there are many) in America that the song should be attached and associated with – Indian Lake, Ohio of course! But, if other Indian Lakes’ around American like playing the song too, so be it, that’s OK too.
The band did not actually write the song “Indian Lake.” The song was written for the band by Tony Romeo, who also wrote, “I think I Love you,” for the Partridge Family TV Show.
“The band has played a concert at Indian Lake as recently as 2011, at the Party at the Beach event,” said Pam Miller, executive director of the Indian Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. “We would love to come back and play at the lake again,” said Bob Cowsills. “I just love that song, noted Susan Cowsills,” who actually performed that song as a child with the band during their 70’s heyday.
Traveling to see Cowsills play the Fraze
Fans at the Fraze lined up after the concert for the band’s meet and greet autograph session, several from the Indian Lake area. “We just love the Cowsills,” beamed both Alma Peterson of Russia, Ohio and Lima Carson of Dayton, who had the Cowsills sign the back of their shirts. “Their song “Indian Lake” just brings back so many wonderful memories of the Lake. We are big fans of the group,” adds Peterson.
Tom Schwieterman and his wife Marge drove all the way from Burkettsville to see the concert. “I just love this kind of music,”’ said wife Marge.
Brenda Giesemann, a resident of Russells Point who used to live in Newport, Rhode Island in the ’60s just blocks from the beach, had a fond memory of the band back in that day. “I was walking to the beach one day and some bystanders said the Cowsills were back in town and pointed to their large mansion across the street from the beach,” said Giesemann. “The famous Cowsills lived just across the street from me and I didn’t even know it. And now I live at Indian Lake, the song they are famous for. It really is a small world.”
The Cowsills, one of the biggest pop acts of the late ’60s, with their angelic harmonies and sun-kissed melodies, got their start back in 1965. The band was at first just the four brothers wanting to be the Beatles which evolved into a family band shortly thereafter, specializing in harmonies. At one point, up to seven family members were in the band. In fact, the group was the inspiration for TV’s ‘The Partridge Family’ (which they almost starred in), not to mention the sibling-oriented groups ‘The Jackson 5’ and ‘The Osmonds.’
The family’s home town is actually Canton, but they moved to Newport, Rhode Island in 1963.
Upon signing with MGM in 1967 they had their first-million selling single, “The Rain, the Park and Other Things (often referred to as “The Flower Girl Song”) and featured most recently in the Jim Carey movie Dumb and Dumber. That debut album earned a Gold Record. Two more hits singles followed, ‘Indian Lake’ and ‘We can Fly.’
The band had many other hits including the Billboard number one, multi-million-selling hit title song from the musical “Hair”
In fact, according to a group involved with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame nomination committee, the band has more gold records than many current Hall of Fame members.
The group toured heavily in the Sixties and Seventies, playing around 200 concerts a year and appeared on “American Bandstand,” “The Tonight Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.” They also recorded the theme song for TV’s ‘Love American Style’ and had their own TV special at one time.
Documentary traces The Cowsills
A documentary was released in recent years titled “Family Band: The Cowsills Story,” which garnered a loyal following on “Showtime” and is available for purchase on Amazon.com.
The band in its heyday had three top ten hits and another nine Billboard Chart entries and was inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame in 2013.
The band is playing and touring and this is their 52nd year as a group, including various independent acts and solo endeavors. Siblings Bob, Paul and Susan remain in the band as brother John is currently the drummer for The Beach Boys. Mother Barbara, who sang for the band and father Bud who managed the band have since past. Brothers and former band members Barry, Richard and Bill have also passed.
The Cowsills have become universally recognized as pioneers of the joyful genre of Rock ‘n’ Roll referred to as Sunshine Pop and are considered the First Family of Pop. Hopefully in the near future, this iconic band will be recognized for all their accomplishments and contributions and finally be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
But, for the people of Indian Lake, they will always be forever known and endeared as the band who put the Lake on the map and who continue to faithfully play, as ambassadors, “Indian Lake” all around the world.