Last night I watched a wonderful, yet tragic tribute to The Cowsills, “Family Band: The Cowsills Story.”
The name may not sound familiar, but I am sure you know some of their hits. They were the REAL musical family that the Partridge Family was based on. An American singing group from Rhode Island, formed in 1965 by brothers Bill, Bob and Barry, later joined by siblings Susan and Paul and their mom, Barbara. Their other brother Richard (Bob’s twin) was the road manager. And their dad, Bud managed their career. Their ages were 8 to 19. And little Susan was such a doll!
While the dad got them to be very successful, he was a real terror. The over-bearing man harassed, manipulated and verbally abused the kids. The kids said the father didn’t know how to show love and hurt them with his condescending words and hitting them if they did something wrong.
The father didn’t want Richard to be in the band and sent him off to service during Vietnam (imagine fighting a war when your other siblings were all over television?) and in 1969 fired Bill after he caught him smoking pot. Even little Susan said how her dad tried to sexually abuse her for years, but she fought back at age 10. When she fought back, her dad punched her in the face and her mom let Susan go to live with an older brother.
In 1972 after some members left the band, they recorded “Covered Wagon” which failed to chart. The band stopped playing shortly afterwards and they all went on to have separate careers in and out of the music industry.
And it was said in the documentary, there was no money to show for their successful career probably due to mismanagement by their dad.
The kids were always a tight family and regrouped in 1990, playing the oldies circuit and back in the recording studio.
Barbara Cowsill died in the 1980s of emphysema.
Bud, the dad, died of leukemia in 1992.
Barry died in Hurricane Katrina; and Bill, who struggled with heroin addiction, died the day of Barry’s memorial service.
Susan is still doing music with The Susan Cowsill Band.
John Cowsill has been touring as a musician with the Beach Boys since 2000.
Bill moved to Canada in the 1970s and became a country solo artist.
Paul left music for a career in the construction industry. He still performs with the Cowsills but is primarily a farmer.
Bob had a successful career in the software industry.
Here are Cowsills hits.
The Rain, the Park and Other Things is such a gorgeous song, it may bring tears to your eyes:
And their biggest hit, “Hair”:
And the original theme from Love American Style:
And here’s a little snippet from a 2007 tour: