They’ve got the same charming smiles, easy manner and kind voices that made millions of preteens fall in love with them in the late 1960s.
But what Bob, Paul, Susan and John Cowsill have most in common with their younger selves is the talent and drive to continue to make music. While some “family bands” from that era stagnate musically while publicly cursing siblings, parents and fate, these four remaining Cowsills have continued to expand their music, individually and now together.
“Between the time of the original Cowsills and now, we’ve just continued on,” vocalist Paul Cowsill said. “We are kind of really just normal people who’ve had records all these years.”
That’s true if you consider normal as having weekly starring roles in the pages of Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, hit songs including “Hair” and “Flower Girl,” and a family group that inspired the TV series “The Partridge Family.” But while other family bands always seemed more Hollywood novelty than real-life musicians, the Cowsills were obviously the real deal.
It was well-known through the pages of the teen magazines that their dad, the late William “Bud” Cowsill, urged John and Barry to play drums and bass, respectively. They joined with their siblings and honed their skills through school dances, church socials and other events in their hometown of Newport, R.I.
“The first time I really performed I walked to school with a guitar across my back and … played for the entire third grade,” guitarist Bob Cowsill said. “We had fame and fortune and lost fame and fortune, but we always remained a close family.”
Not that the Cowsills didn’t have their share of heartaches. But even when the members went their separate ways, they continued to perfect their craft. They joined together only occasionally until a few years ago, when they decided to perform as a group again, something they had always resisted.
“The older you get, the more you appreciate that sort of thing,” Bob said. “Please tell everyone who reads this to come to the show. They’ll really enjoy it.”