Announcer: Remember the play and movie Hair. It was the rage in the late 60's. The first Broadway play with nudity. Well a group called The Cowsills made the title song Hair a big hit. And the family group became red hot, the forerunner of The Jackson Five. And like the Jacksons, there are now reports of big trouble within the family. Cindy Harm with our story.
Cindy: You may not remember their name, but who could forget their songs. They were one of the hottest groups of the 60's. The Cowsills were the bubblegum family that captured the attention of every teenybopper in America.
Jan: I believe that The Cowsills typified everything that was good and wholesome at the time in America.
Cindy: TV's Partridge Family was actually modeled after The Cowsills. And like the Partridges, this real life group was a family affair, including five brothers, little sister Susan, and mini-skirted Mom Barbara. They were managed by Dad, Bud Cowsill. The world feel in love with the group because of their clean cut all-American image. Jan Murrey was only 19-years-old when she became The Cowsills publist. Jan says The Cowsills appeared so wholesome, the American Dairy Association signed the group to a multi-million dollar contract to sing the praises of milk.
Jan: What could be better than a mother and father and children traveling around the country telling you to drink milk, because if you drink milk you'll be healthy and wholesome and happy like we are.
Cindy: On stage, The Cowsills were the ideal family. They had everything, fame and fortune. But off-stage, a family member says there was a terrible secret.
Richard: My father was sadistic. He love pumbling us. It started out with belts, the leather belts and it ended up where he couldn't contain himself and it ended up with fists.
Cindy: Meet Richard Cowsill, the second oldest son in the family. In this exclusive interview with Inside Edition, Richard says his home life had a dark, brutal side.
Richard: We're all downstairs except the one brother who had been caught smoking cigarettes. He's upstairs in the bathroom with my father. I hear a scream and I ran upstairs. I ran towards the bathroom and there was my father. He had a cigerette in his hand and was going right into my brothers arm.
Cindy: While his family was making millions of dollars from hit records, hearing the screams of fans, Richard was forced to watch it from a far. His father, Bud, decided Richard would be the only member of the family not allowed to perform with the group. So while his twin brother, Bob, was basking in the spotlight, Richard was in the shadows, hauling the equipment.
Richard: I've come to the conclusion that my father hated himself. I also believe that my father say in me, himself. And that frightened him. It scared him. Whatever it was, I was singled out.
Cindy: The 43 year old claims his father was ashamed of Richard's stuttering, which he has now overcome. And according to the recovered alcoholic and drug addict, the children weren't the only ones who were beaten. So was his mother.
Cindy: And your mother. Why didn't she do anything?
Richard: She was the 8th kid. She was just as much afraid of him. I mean she had her short-comings. She was co-enabler. She was co-dependant.
Cindy: Jan Murrey lived with the Cowsills during the height of the group popularity. She supports Richards allegations that he and other members of his family were beaten by Bud Cowsill.
Jan: Richard was thrown through a plate glass window, and very badly bruised. Bill the oldest son and lead singer for the group was beaten very often by his father for things like not wanting to do a certain song.
Cindy: Today Richard has very little contact with his brothers and sister, who claim he still holds a grudge.
Cindy: How do we know that your allegation that your father beat you and the rest of your family is true?
Richard: Well I submit to you that I'm not the only one who knows this. That there are plenty of people in the music business who were aware of it. And when you're telling the truth, you don't have to fabricate. You don't' have eight different stories because it's the same thing over and over and over.
Cindy: Richard's parents are no longer alive to answer this charges. Barbara died 8 years ago and Bud just last year. As for the other Cowsill children, they declined to talk about Richard's allegations on camera. But in a phone interview with Inside Edition, John Cowsill had this to say, "My Dad was strick and we received spankings. But my father ever burning a cigarette in one of my brothers arms, or Richard being thrown through a plate glass window, those are blatant lies."
Richard. They are in denial.
Cindy: There's no doubt, Richard is bitter and he claims he has reason. When his siblings were attempting to make a come-back two years ago, Richard was finally promised a spot on center stage. But when they appeared on a talk show without him, it was then that Richard realized, he'd been left out for the second time in his life.
Richard: That's when I said OK fine. If I can't be part of it, that's OK, but wait a minute now. You guys are now attempting a comeback from a vehicle that was created 20 years ago. Do not tell me that I do not have the same right as you to use that vehicle.
Cindy: Despite everything, Richard, now a realtor, is determined to become an entertainer. Now, he says, he'll just have to go solo.
Richard: And we can make you happy (singing) That's it.