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Barbara, b. 1928, Newport, Rhode Island, USA, d. 21 January 1985; Bill, b. 9 January 1948, Newport; Bob, b. 26 August 1949, Newport; Dick, b. 26 August 7950, Newport; Paul, b. II November 1952, Newport; Barry, b. 14 September 1954, Newport; John, b. 2 March 1956, Newport; Sue, b. 20 May 1960, Newport
Billed as 'America's First Family of Song', the Cow-sills and their squeaky-clean harmonies briefly dominated the American charts in the late sixties and were the inspiration for The Partridge Family teleseries which made David Cassidy a star.
The family group was transformed into a professional group by their father William 'Bud' Cowsill on his retirement from the navy in 1963. He acted as their manager, while his wife Barbara provided an extra voice. Bud got them a series of regular engagements at New York clubs in the mid-sixties. Signed to MGM by producer Artie Kornfeld in 1967, they had an immediate hit with Kornfeld's composition 'The Rain, the Park and Other Things'. Radio programmers found their clean family image an attractive alternative to the psychedelia of the day and the Cowsills had a series of hits (including 'We Can Fly' and 'Indian Lake' in 1968) that climaxed in their triumphant reworking of the hippie anthem 'Hair'* (1969), the title song of the Broadway show.
By now regular guests on American television variety shows — the group was never successful in Europe — and stars of the cabaret circuit, in 1970 they left MGM for London Records. However, where a couple of years before they had been unique, they were now in competition with family groups that had a greater impact, such as The Osmonds and Jackson Five. As suddenly as they had arrived, the group disappeared. After a desultory tour of American army bases in Europe, they disbanded in 1972.