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Musical Staying Power
The Cowsills, a family band that inspired 'The Partridge Family,' part of Happy Together Tour
August 21, 2015
Chicago Tribune
Chicago, Illinois


The Cowsills will perform at the Happy Together tour Friday at the Paramount Theatre

Without Bob Cowsill, there may never have been a Keith Partridge.

“Me and my brother, Bill, I think were a composite for the Keith Partridge Character,” Bob Cowsill said about the role that singer David Cassidy played on the television sitcom “The Partridge Family.”

The singing Cowsill family, which eventually included five brothers, a sister and their mom, Barbara, in the group, was the basis for the TV show, which ran on ABC-TV from 1970 to ’74, and featured Shirley Jones as the mother of the family.

“In early 1970 a team came to us from Screen Gems, the film production company,” Bob Cowsill said. “They wanted to do a concept of our band for TV. My dad wanted us to be in it, but they turned us down to be the kids in the show. It was always a Shirley Jones vehicle, so Mom would never play mom in the show. And we were not interested in TV at the time anyway. We wanted to have a band and be rock stars.”

The Cowsills will perform Friday at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora as part of the Happy Together Tour.

Other performers on the tour include The Turtles, featuring Flo and Eddie; The Grass Roots; Mark Lindsay from Paul Revere & The Raiders; The Buckinghams and The Association. The show starts at 8 p.m.

The Cowsills did not start out wanting to be a family band. The band was formed in the spring of 1965. The original Cowsills consisted of Bill on guitar, Bob on guitar and organ, Barry on bass and John on drums.

“In ’63 and ’64 The Beatles came along, so we wanted to pattern ourselves after them,” Bob Cowsill said.

After limited success with some early recordings and albums, the group scored a hit with “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” in 1967.

“Artie Kornfeld wrote ‘The Rain, the Park and Other Things’ and that was our first million seller,” Cowsill said. “Mom was the one who could really sing and they put her on the song. Then she just stayed. That meant that now we were a family band, not The Beatles any more. We were a family pop group.

“Dad came up with the idea,” Cowsill said about his mother, Barbara, joining the group. “It was something that would differentiate us from everyone else. From a marketing standpoint it was a sound decision, but we didn’t like it. Still, it all worked out. Sometimes you roll with things.”

After the group’s initial success, the brothers were joined by their siblings, Susan and Paul. The group went on to have other successful songs such as “Indian Lake” in 1968 and “Hair” in 1969 which became their biggest hit.

Several members of the Cowsills have died, and others are involved musically with other groups. For the Happy Together Tour, The Cowsills consist of Bob (guitar and vocals), Paul (vocals) and Susan (guitar and vocals).

Bob Cowsill is not surprised that the Happy Together Tour is so popular.

“The tour celebrates what all of us have done,” he said. “These songs were great. It’s ALL about the songs.

“I think all of us on the tour have tried to let it go. It won’t let US go. The staying power of the songs is carrying us.”

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