|Back in the 1960′s, four brothers who wanted to be The Beatles formed a band called The Cowsills. The original Cowsills consisted of Bill on guitar, Bob on guitar and organ, Barry on bass and John on drums. Early gigs were at school dances and churches around their home in Newport, RI. Eventually, as their harmonic sound was perfected, they got a regular gig on Bannisters Wharf in Newport where they would sing Beatle songs hour after hour. Early recordings were released by the four brothers on Joda and Mercury Records. Barbara (“mini-mom”) joined the group to record The Rain, The Park and Other Things and shortly thereafter 7 year old Susan and brother, Paul, were added to the group. They were signed by MGM records and the group began it’s climb to the top!
Here’s what Bob had to say about the early days and getting started:
The Cowsills enjoyed great success during the late 60′s and in to the very early 70′s not only with their music but appearing as guests on many television shows and even hosting their own TV special. They were approached to do a TV series but the producers had already signed an actress to play the mother on the series so it was a no go for The Cowsills. What was the series? It was The Partridge Family. The Cowsills were also spokespersons for the American Dairy Association and appeared in commercials and print ads for milk. The Cowsills disbanded in the early 1970s but most of them have never really left the music business and various members have regrouped through the years.
Bridey Murphy, aka Paul, Bill, Barry and Waddy Wachtel, was formed in the mid-70′s. Bill and Barry drifted in and out of this group and one single, The Time Has Come / Be Your Mother’s Son, was recorded with Paul doing all vocals and Waddy playing all instruments.
Then, in the late 1970′s, some of the Cowsills regrouped and recorded an album affectionately known as Cocaine Drain. This album was produced by Chuck Plotkin and also featured Dennis Castanares as a “member” of The Cowsills at that time. During those days, The Cowsills sometimes played the LA area as The Secrets and The Critics. Rumor has it that The Critics also recorded (and never released) a few songs.
Flash forward to the 1990s when some of The Cowsills (Bob, Paul, John and Susan) again regrouped. This time they were going to hit the oldies circuit but somehow playing just oldies didn’t appeal to them. They had too much fun on some new material written by Bob and his wife, Mary Jo. So, this incarnation of The Cowsills started playing small clubs and showcases in the Los Angeles area and across the country. They generated great reviews from the critics and fans alike. The Cowsills also went back into the studio and Global was a result of those sessions.
Some long-time Cowsill fans (Marsha & Martha Jordan, Jo Malone, Lynn Mathis and Becky Presley) have formed the Committee for the Nomination of The Cowsills for Induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and are striving to have The Cowsills inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They have created a colorful presentation brochure on The Cowsills that details the ways in which The Cowsills have met the criteria for induction into the Rock Hall which will be sent to each member of the nominating sommittee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The criteria addressed includes: longevity, influence, innovation, distinction, and perpetuation. Also included are comments from Artie Kornfeld, Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish, Shirley Jones, Billboard Magazine, Rolling Stone Magazine, etc.
The committee has also learned that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee will seriously consider an artist for nomination if the artist has at least 10,000 names on a petition. There are over 4,500 names on the online petition thus far,and if we all work together, we can definitely meet or surpass the 10,000 name requirement!
Please take the time to sign the on-line petition for The Cowsills induction if you haven’t done so already. During their research, the committee has compiled some amazing facts about The Cowsills and their careers, including:
Both Barry and Susan had their lives turned upside down by Hurricane Katrina, which hit the gulf coast in August 2005, since both were residents of the New Orleans area at the time. Susan and her family lost their home and most of their belongings but they were all safe during the hurricane and it’s aftermath and returned to live in New Orleans in January 2006. Barry, unfortunately, did not get out of New Orleans before Katrina hit and was among the missing of Hurricane Katrina for 4 months. Then, sadly, on January 4th, 2006, The Cowsill family got the news that Barry’s body had been found and identified. Barry Cowsill is no longer with us. At the memorial service for Barry, the Cowsill family was informed that Billy had passed away following his battles with hip replacement surgery, back surgery, emphysema, osteoporosis and other problems.
Today, the surviving Cowsills continue to make music – sometimes individually and sometimes together – and their harmonies are still as infectious and bright as ever. Be watching for the documentary about the Cowsills, Family Band: The Cowsills Story, coming soon!