Family Went Separate Ways When Curtain Came Down
by Jenifer Hanrahan, Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 30, 1999
San Diego Tribune
When the record sales dwindled, the Cowsills had to learn to cope with life away from the spotlight. For many of them, it was a bumpy few decades.
Bill, now 51, after his own struggles with alcohol, is a country-rock singer who had some commercial success with a band called the Blue Shadows. He lived for many years near Vancouver, British Columbia.
Barry, 45, was staying with his sister, Susan, in New Orleans. He discussed his three suicide attempts and problems with anxiety from "a past that can still haunt" on his Web site, where he is also selling a solo CD.
John, 43, settled in Ojai. He works as a carpenter.
Susan, just 10 when the band folded, dropped out of high school in the ninth grade. Now 39, she's worked clerical jobs, done backup singing and continues to write songs at home in New Orleans. She's a member of the group The Continental Drifters.
Richard, 50, got out of Vietnam and spent the next few years passing off baking soda mixed with cake mix as mescaline. He aired his dirty family laundry on Howard Stern several years ago. He now works for a multilevel marketing company that sells long-distance phone service and has been married for 15 years. He has three children, two from his first wife.
Paul, 48, found work as a road manager for Helen Reddy and a sound technician for John Denver and Neil Diamond. He spent three years in the Navy and later majored in theater arts at Cal State Northridge.
He now works in construction and as a nanny for two brothers with muscular dystrophy. His oldest son, Brendon, inherited his baseball prowess and plays for the California Angels farm team, the Elsinore Storm.
"I never should have done music," Paul said. "I should have stayed in sports."
Bob's marriage to the model didn't last much longer than the band. He went to Cal State Northridge and got a job as an emergency room technician. Bob, 50, met his second wife, a nurse, at the hospital. The two of them helped raise his two children from his first marriage, and have three children of their own.
Bud, the father, joined the merchant marine in the early '70s and went back to sea. Thirteen years later, he retired to a small fishing village outside Rosarito, where he had neither electrical service nor a telephone. "The no-rapport I have with my children has never changed," he told People magazine in 1990. "I wouldn't want me for a father. I'm a harsh taskmaster."
Bob saw his father only once after the band broke up. In the late '80s, the older man passed through, sporting a long white beard, driving a van. They went to Bob's son's baseball game together.
"Was it that bad?" his father asked him.
Bob recalls being shocked by the question.
"I said, 'No Dad, it wasn't that bad.' It was like he was old and he was trying to resolve some things. But he just didn't know how."
Bud died in 1992.