Cowsill Transcripts

Dick Clark's Music Machine
Host: Dick Clark

Dick: One of first big singing families in rock and roll, as a matter of fact they were selling records while the Osmonds were still on the Andy Williams show, was The Cowsills. They started working together in 1958 as a folk group and they added a couple brothers and sister, electrical instruments in about 1962. Now this is Paul Cowsill.

Paul: None of this was really planned. It was planned by us, I guess, because we wanted the gear, and my father is the kind of person that would say, “Well if you want it, OK.” We ask for Silvertone – remember Silverton amps – from Sears and Vox and this and that. So we bought about $100,000 worth of this electronic equipment, organs and stuff like this. And my father was in the Navy, you know, and he was moonlighting managing this kind of fry / french fry place or something like that. And we got so far in debt that we had to hit the colleges. So we would go up to Brown University, set up in their courtyard during the spring, and start playing. And we played for three hours straight. My father would go around handing out these cards. The Cowsills – Play For Any Occasion. Weddings, birthdays, you know, get-togethers and stuff like this. We just got tons and tons – people calling in “Hey we got a frat party going on and we’d like you to come out to our group weekends,” you know. So we’d tromp in there and we played.

Dick: Finally they were spotted by a man who took them to MGM records where The Cowsills cut their first album. To everybody’s surprise, it contained one smash hit.

Song: The Rain, The Park and Other Things

Dick: So many rock groups have ego problems, sort of an occupational hazard. But when the group is also a family, it can all become rather complicated.

Paul: We’re working with egos and my older brother so uptight about, you know, little Barry becoming the teen idol. I mean it got crazy. It really did. And you know it’s natural for people to do that, you know, and it was just one of those things unfortunately. This was the type of family, we were a lot more ruggeder than say The Osmonds. Not to get heavy, but they had religion. They had their religion to keep them together, that binds them, you know, plus their family. We had strickly a family thing and we were all entertainers and all – we had our own egos to establish and it was very hard. It was just like you have ten kids in a family and six of them are in scenes – like Griffin, Archie Griffin and all those football halfbacks, right? They’re all in one family and the reason they had competition. In this business the competition gets so – you know out there they are telling you to compete and you get so into it that it blows the minds. It didn’t blow my mind. I didn’t care. I was having a ball. I loved them screaming. I loved the autographs. I loved everything about it, you know, whereas my older brother didn’t dig it. You know, he got uptight.

Dick: Ironically the family started to write together as the problems started to arise. And they turned out some really good hits. Here’s one of them, “We Can Fly.”

Song: We Can Fly

Dick: Like all good things The Cowsills, as a performing unit, came to an end. But Paul doesn’t have any regrets or hard feelings. As a matter of fact, he and some of his brothers and sisters are now in a group called ‘Bridey Murphy.’

Paul: Working with seven or eight people, it doesn’t have to be just a cycle. You could – like The Osmonds did with say Donny and Marie, Donny, The Osmonds. That’s what I’m doing now. I got John and Susan, it’s going to be me and Susan singing, me and John and Susan singing, me, John, Barry and Susan singing, me, John, Bob, Susan, Barry. Cuz I don’t want – it doesn’t have to end if you can keep that – just keep branching off. Go into acting. Go into – you know – I’d like to think of myself as an entertainer rather than a musician or just a vocalist. I want to act. I want to do a Broadway show. I have a lot of things I want to do. And they could have been done I think, so I don’t really feel as if I was cycled and we had to make it all because it was going to end.

Dick: Before it did end, there were some great records. One of them was the title song from the biggest rock musical of the ‘60’s.

Song: Hair

Dick: That was “Hair” by The Cowsills. I’m afraid we’ve about used up all our time this go round. Gee I don’t know where it goes sometimes. In any case, thank you very much for joining us. Till the next time Dick Clark – so long.

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