They were rich and famous child pop stars who lost it all. But after 30 years and some bad breaks the Cowsills - the real-life model for TV's "Partridge Family" - are back with a new album.
"We're a classic rags to riches to rags story," says Paul Cowsill, 46. "We made millions of dollars almost overnight, then lost it nearly as quickly. But we've got a lot of music left in us."
In the late '60s six Cowsill kids and their perky mom harmonized to such hits as "Hair," "Indian Lake" and "The Rain, The Park and Other Things."
Fans snapped up Cowsills comic books, Cowsills posters and Cowsills T-shirts, earning them $15 million in only a few years.
At their peak, the singing Cowsill siblings - Bob, Bill, Barry, Susan, Paul and John - were set to star in "The Partridge Family," which they inspired. But father Bud, their manager, nixed the deal because Shirley Jones was already cast as the mother instead of their real mom Barbara.
After that, their fortunes plummeted. Bud made several bad business deals that derailed their careers and drained the family fortune. The group disbanded in 1972 and the family declared bankruptcy.
Mom Barbara died of emphysema in 1985, while dad Bud died in 1992.
After the Cowsills folded, Paul filled time as a sound engineer for singer Helen Reddy, among other jobs. John performed with Jan and Dean and also appeared on "General Hospital" and "Full House."
Susan continued to harmonize with a number of bands, including Redd Kross and her own group Continental Drifters. Bob performed solo in many Los Angeles clubs, while working in emergency medicine.
In the early 90's the four decided to mount a comeback, without Bob, who's now a successful country music star in Canada, or Barry, a solo crooner. They played club dates in the L.A. area and produced an album, "Global," that they're now marketing on their Internet Web site.
"It's good modern, power pop with trademark Cowsills harmonies," says Paul, who lives in San Diego. "We had lots of opportunities to go on oldies tours over the years, but we couldn't face singing the same old hits night after night.
"Several record executives have said they loved our new album, but they weren't sure there was a big enough market for it. But we know there is - and we're determined to prove it!"
- R. S. Young