Ed: Do you remember when The Cowsills hit the charts? You said to yourself, "What's this? Another family?" You bet. How about listening to my chat with Bob Cowsill on WIBG.
Well folks this is the Steel Pier Radio Show. We do our very best to bring you the artists that appeared on the boards of the Music Hall Theatre in any particular Summer. And I have to thank my producer Don P. Hurley because he finds where these artists are. For instance we had a great act that appeared in the Music Hall Theatre July 28 through August 2 in 1968, a group called The Cowsills. And if I tell you it's one of the most attractive musical acts we ever had on the Pier, well let's talk to Bob Cowsill and find out more about the group. Bob, nice to have you with us.
Bob: It's great being here Ed. We have only fond memories of the Steel Pier performance that we did. To be able to there and we knew that.
Ed: Yes. It was called "The Show Place of the Nation" and did have the top acts in the nation and of course back in '65 and '71, YOU were one of the top acts in the country. In fact, I have a picture, in one of the programs here, you look like you were wearing Beatles outfits. I don't guess you remember that picture.
Bob: Why, I sure do. The thing is back then we were just teenaged guys and EVERYTHING was about The Beatles. Even for us. We wanted to look like them. We wanted to sound like them. In our early years, there was just the four brothers playing and I was Paul and Bill was John Lennon. We had it all figured out. You could see evidence of that kind of influence of, even in how we looked sometimes. So, that's true.
Ed: And that was quite a family affair. At it height, how many family members were with you?
Bob: Seven. There were ... it started out four brothers and we were signed to a couple of labels when I was in high school, but that didn't work out. I was told they decided, and believe me we were just four teenaged guys so this wasn't good news at the time, although it sounds kind of nice now, to put our Mother in our rock group. So they put our Mom in our band and then we had our first hit in 1967 with "The Rain, The Park & Other Things" with our Mom and that meant she was going to be in our band.
Ed: That was really wonderful wasn't it?
Bob: I got to tell you, Ed, when it comes to the Steel Pier, honestly, a couple things come to mind. Because I was 17, 18, 19 when we played there. #1 Your name - the name The Cowsills - was never bigger in lights than on the Steel Pier. I don't know if you remember...
Ed: Of sure I do. The gigantic electric sign on the Mooring Building at the end of the pier. Like a 1/4 mile at sea ... I know how it felt cuz the first time I saw my name on that light fixture, I went nuts. And I was standing on the boardwalk watching it.
Bob: That's the biggest we ever saw. There was that and then from the realization cuz we didn't know at the time, the Monopoly game, the streets of the Monopoly game, were the streets of Atlantic City. And as we were driving around, this realization came to us. These are called Monopoly streets and then we heard this story and course the Boardwalk and the way it was. And then the Belgium waffles and the ...
Ed: (Chuckles) You remember the Belgium waffles.
Bob: Oh please ...
Ed: How about Planter's Peanuts, fresh from The Pier.
Bob: As soon as we got there, the first day that we got there we were off to those Belgium waffles. And it was good because you got to stay there for awhile. And you'd play a week or two, a number shows a day. I'll tell you one memory we had, a big memory of the Steel Pier, we were there during the first Moon landing, one of our appearances because we watched it there. I remember that, we watched moon landing at Atlantic City. It was just the greatest place to play. I'm sure it is now. In fact ...
Ed: No,no, it's an amusement pier for the kids now. It's Farris wheels and rides. So ...
Bob: Yeah, I haven't seen it now since the old days but we're starting to tour now and there's casinos and hotels that we play in. Ah, we're going to probably play at Atlantic City this summer and I know I'm going to go in there and I'm going to act like some 60-year-old fogy.
Ed: Naw, naw you're not.
Bob: Well it used to be a lot better than this... _________
Ed: Sure How many are a part of the group today?
Bob: Our Mom has passed away, obviously, and we lost a couple brothers four years ago. Our brother Barry passed away in the Katrina Hurricane and
Ed: Oh that's horrible.
Bob: and then at the same time our brother Billy died up in Canada, so it's myself, my sister Susan, my brother Paul. We replaced those two brothers with two of our sons, so my son Ryan plays keyboards and Paul's son, Brendon, plays guitar. Our brother John drums, was our drummer, but he drums with The Beach Boys and they play probably 200 times more than we do, so we're not going to lure him away from The Beach Boys just yet. So, our sister's husband, Russ, is our drummer. He's a great drummer. So it's still a family act.
Ed: By the way, is your brother, your twin brother Richard, is he still the road manager?
Bob: No. My twin brother Richard is retired in New Mexico and lives a very fine life down there on little ranch that they live on. So, he's done well.
Ed: Are you still natives of Newport, Rhode Island?
Bob: Yeah, we grew up in Newport, Rhode Island. We return every single year now to play and perform there. Although currently we are spread out geographically. My sister has been in New Orleans a long time. She lived there when Barry lived there. Susan evacuated and made it out of there. My brother Paul lives in Oregon, and myself and John live in Southern California. And Ryan and Brendon live in California as well.
Ed: Wow, you're all over the map.
Bob: I know. That's what made it great to - we never really did the oldies tours. We started doing them after our brothers died, just cuz it was nice to see each other and now it's a blast. We just got back from the Mohegan Sun and had a great night there. So that's the business.
Ed: Now I'll never forget when you went to MGM label, you had a very good distributor in Philadelphia by the name of Ed Brodsky. He brought that Cowsills first record to us and we went nuts over it. I had a partner then, Joe Green, we were the #1 team in Philadelphia in the afternoon from 1-5.
Bob: Wow, Philadelphia. It's funny because when you're young, back then at the time, you appreciate what's going on, but not like you do when you're older. It's great to be older and appreciate what you did a long time ago because you appreciate a lot more.
Ed: Sure I see in the notes here that your people were the real inspiration for "The Partridge Family"
Bob: Yeah, yes they wanted to take our story to television and it made it to television. It was a big hit with Shirley Jones. We were suppose to be the kids but that didn't work out. We weren't actors anyway.
Ed: But you did a tremendous amount of television appearances.
Bob: Well that's what you did back then. Those were your videos, let's say. That's how you were seen.
Bob: We did the Ed Sullivan Show, Kraft Music Hall
Ed: Well Bob I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed chatting with you and it's been a real joy and we hope, when you get to Atlantic City, we'll get to see you.
Bob: Well we appreciate everyone's suppose and we know the diving horse isn't going to be there when we return.
Ed: No, that's right. I can remember Andy Williams, when he played the pier, he said people didn't come to see him, they came to see the horse.
Bob: So did we. After the show we'd run down and see that. It was great back in Atlantic City then.
Ed: Well Bob, once again, thank you very much for your time and effort and wish you well and good luck in the world.
Bob: Thank you so much for reaching out.
Ed: It was nice to hear from Bob Cowsill. And we're going to play something by The Cowsills. A giant hit for them, "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things" on 2010 AM WIBG
Bob: Our influence as the Andrew Sisters, the McGuire Sisters, and go way back The Lennon Sisters singing along with Mitch, The Osmonds, The Andy Williams Show, then segwaying into The Beach Boys, and the Byrds and vocals like that. Mamas and The Papas and admiring the bigness of the Mitch Miller's (???), and the coolness of The Beach Boys. So, we were just filled with those harmonies just from hearing it.
Song: The Rain, The Park and Other Things
Ed: Did that bring back some good memories for you? I hope so. Time for one more and then we have to skedaddle out of here. And we're going to play something by The Cowsills. The Cowsills recorded the theme song for a wonderful television show called Love American Style. And that will close the show. Let's listen to this. ... In the theme from Love American Style which is - I think - a great song, is that a song, I mean do you get, is it something you play when you're doing your shows?
Bob: You better believe it. It's funny, back then, like I said, you're young and you go "Oh yeah we're doing a TV theme song, no big deal." We never played it live. We just did it and that was that. Of course now we're older and we go "Dang we did a TV theme song."
Ed: And it's such a good song. I mean it's such a ...
Bob: It comes off live. We play it and the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut Sunday night we were there and we played it there and it just comes over so well because people remember the show. We know most people are kind of surprised in a pleasant way to find out that was us singing that song because that's not really super common knowledge.
Bob Promo: This is Bob Cowsill of the Cowsills and you're listening to The Steel Pier Radio Show on WIBG
Song: Love American Style
Ed: Well, that's our program for today. We hope you enjoyed every bit of it. And our thanks to Bob Cowsill, of The Cowsills, for being our special guest today.