It's never been about stardom, about making millions. I've done that and it made me miserable, man. For me it's just about getting the harmonies right, it's about getting the sound down. That's all I've ever wanted to do. It's about the music, that's all there is. I'd rather die a pauper having put a sweet tune on people's lips than have the world in the bank.
Billy Cowsill (Blue Shadows) makes his acting debut this month on a Lonesome Dove episode to be aired April 20 at
l0 pm EST, and on April 19th in Vancouver. Watch for Boney, the sinister sidekick of a ruthless arms dealer. Musically
speaking, the Blue Shadows will henceforth be known as Billy Cowsill and the Blue Shadows. (Click here to view some photos Stella has on her site of this show. They are about 3/4 down the page, or click here to see a page I made.)
Country Wave Magazine
Places To Play
Several of the places Billy played frequently include The Mecca Cafe (which burned down July 26, 2002 Billy later did a benefit for the workers ) and the Karma, both in Calgary. Terry R. remembers listening to the Blue Shadows at Fairview Pub, Darby's, Rusty Gull, and Starfish Room in Vancouver and the Boot Pub in Whistler.
One of the friends who rescued Billy and brought him to Calgary was Jan Arden. Jan once wrote a song called "Weeds," It was said of this song, "Human beings are hard to bring down. Inspired loosely by singer Billy Cowsill of the "Cowsill Family". Alcohol and drugs still try to take his life from him. It is very moment to moment. Survival is the thing. Most people have no choice but to survive. It can take up your whole day."
First published in Vancouver Magazine in April 1995, click here to read a lengthy article called Shadowy Man.
Billy with The Blue Shadows were nominated for a Juno (Canadian Grammy) for Country Group of The Year in 1994.
Favorite StoryWant to hear the song Billy wrote for John Lennon? Here you go !!
My favorite Billy story is one told by Bob
“Bill had money to demo some songs in New York at the Record Plant. It was not a good period in his life, he was pressed for time, his wife had just left him and just as he was about to pound out these songs he broke his guitar. ‘I was bluer than blue,’ says Billy. That meant unless he found a new guitar, the session was shot and he had wasted his money. Just then, the engineer remembered someone recording there previously had left his guitar behind for an upcoming session. He retrieved a black leather soft case with an acoustic inside and handed it to Billy. ‘Use this,’ the engineer said. Billy unziped it, and inside is a black Gibson acoustic, real old, with Everly Gibson inscribed on the head-stock. It's an original Everly acoustic, belonging to John Lennon. Billy broke down crying and huging this thing like it's a baby. As he says, it was the first nice thing that had happened to him in months. So he used the guitar for the session, left a thank you note in the guitar case and wrote “Johnny's Guitar”.”
Additional info added by Jason O. in April 2, 2014:
The the basic tracks for John Lennon's Imagine LP Imagine were initially recorded at his home studio, Ascot Sound Studios in Tittenhurst Park in June of 1971.
On July 3, 1971, John Lennon and Yoko Ono flew to New York to continue sessions for the album the next day, at the Record Plant.
The tracks that were finished at Record Plant are: "It's So Hard", "I Don't Want to Be a Soldier" and "How Do You Sleep?", which I think left June as a possible time that Bill cut those demos if it was in 1971.
Billy told the follow joke at ToRI in 2000.
Billy:Hey Sue, how do you know there's a chick singer knocking at your door?
Susan: I don't know Billy, how?
Billy: She doesn't know when to come in!
Pride and Joys
Billy has two sons that he adored.
The oldest is Travis and he's an artist. Click here to see a few video captures of Travis's work.
Del is Billy's second son. Del is a musician up in the Vancouver, Canada area.
Ginny found these photos which are probably some of - if not THE last - photos taken of Billy. They were taken in February 2006 in Billy's apartment in Calgary by B. Turner.
I don't know the stories behind the articles on Billy's urn. I do note that a Star Trek symbol was there. Billy wore on in a photo I saw once (see below). The plaque at the bottom reads "William Joseph Cowsill, Jr. 1948 - 2006 "Keep On Rockin'" "Keep On Rockin" was a favorite saying of Billy's.