Billy Cowsill, a 60ís Pop/rock star in the family band The Cowsills; who later found success in Canada as a member of several Canadian country/ rock bands, passed away February 18, 2006, at home in Calgary, following a lengthy illness. He was 58.
Only last month, The Cowsill family was saddened with confirmation of the death of Barry Cowsill, whose skeletal remains were discovered in late December in New Orleans, a victim of the August 29th Hurricane Katrina.
William (Billy), Joseph Cowsill was born January 9, 1948 in Newport, Rhode Island. With brothers Bob, Barry, John and sister Susan, Billy formed The Cowsills, a successful family band of the 60's from Rhode Island. They were managed by their father, Bud Cowsill, while brotherís Dick (Bob's twin), and Paul were road managers. The Cowsills scored a series of Pop hits during the 60ís and were the inspiration behind the equally popular group and TV series The Partridge Family. The Cowsills disbanded in the early 70's with Billy Cowsill moving to Canada to pursue his music career.
Based out of Vancouver, Billy Cowsill toured Canada for several years in the late 70ís-early '80s with the band Blue Northern. The group released a self-titled album on Polydor Records in 1981. He then led his own act, The Billy Cowsill Band, which featured himself and Elmar Spanier playing traditional country songs. The act expanded to a four-piece with the addition of Jay Johnson and Jeffery Hatcher. Bassist Spanier left the band and was replaced by Barry Muir; and the band evolved into The Blue Shadows.
The Blue Shadows released two albums through Sony Music, the 1993 On The Floor Of Heaven; and Lucky To Me in 1995. The Blue Shadows were managed by Larry Wanagas of Bumstead Records, the same company that handled k.d.lang. The band broke up in the winter of 1996. The Blue Shadows were featured as a Cover Story act in the October, 1993 issue of Country Music News.
After moving to Calgary in the mid-90ís, Billy Cowsill joined forces with Steve Pineo, Tim Leacock and Ross Watson to form the band The Co-Dependents, releasing two critically-acclaimed ďliveĒ albums recorded at Calgary venues in 2001 and 2005.
Among Billy Cowsill's recent musical endeavors was producing an album, Sun Sittin, for the Calgary based group, Optimal Impact. Billy also appears as a guest artist on the CD. Recently some tapes surfaced from a show Billy Cowsill did in 1985 opening for k.d. lang and this was released in December 2004 on a CD titled Billy Cowsill Live: From The Crystal Ballroom Calgary AB July, 1985.
In recent years Billy Cowsill had endured through a series of health problems, undergoing a hip replacement, back surgery, and suffering from emphysema osteoporosis, and Cushing Syndrome. He passed away Saturday, February 18th at home in Calgary. Billy Cowsill is survived by family members in Rhode Island, and two sons, Travis and Del Cowsill of Vancouver.