First, there was Cheer's big comeback. Then, it was Blondie's. Now here's a real blast from the past - the Cowsills have a new record!
The Newport, R.I., family band that was the inspiration for "The Partridge Family" is trying to make it back on the charts for the first time in 30 years with "Global."
"It's a lot of fun," Bob Cowsill told the Track. "We can't believe how people have embraced what we've done."
The Cowsills, who had the big '60s hits "Hair," "The Rain, The Park and Other Things," and "Indian Lake," have reformed with four of the original seven members - Bob, the oldest, who - believe it or not - is now 49, youngest sibling, Susan, and brothers John and Paul. The sibs are hoping to get back some of the success that they couldn't enjoy the first time around.
"We were the classic Hollywood story," Bob said. "We made a lot of money, it was mismanaged and we wound up flat broke."
A kind of Hanson precursor, Bob and his brothers began playing at the old Dorian's on Bannisters Wharf in Newport when they were still in high school. They developed a following and soon were playing gigs at Brown, Providence College and BU, and Bob even remembers playing Zanzibar off Boylston Street and, eventually, the Hatch Shell.
The band's big break came when someone from the "Today" show caught their act in Newport and booked the Cowsills on the show. After mom Barbara and sister Susan joined the band, "The Rain, The Park and Other Things" happened and the rest is rock 'n' roll history.
Cowsill said his dad, Bud, who only had a 7th-grade education, wasn't prepared to handle the group's success. When he insisted that their mom play the role of Shirley Partridge (that went to Shirley Jones), the rest of the family was dropped from "The Partridge Family" series.
And as far as the money wen, "he didn't do good at all," Cowsill said. "He invested it the wrong way - like buying campground in Rhode Island. He's gone now, but dad would have been the first one to stand there and say 'I blew it.'"
After the money vanished, the family broke apart. Brother Bill went to Canada and has had a successful country-rock solo career. Another brother, Barry, is a songwriter. Bob went into emergency medicine, devising a computer program for ERs. Susan stayed in music and John and Paul are builders.
"We all had to deal with what happened on an individual basis," Bob said. "And we all dealt with it differently. It was a very difficult time."
But Bob said the family kept playing music - and kept trying to make a comeback.
"We tried it in the '70s and hit the disco wall. We tried it in the '80s and hit the grunge wall. But now, finally, in the late '90s, things are wide-open."
What the group did was make their own record and - since they haven't been able to scare up any record company interest - they're marketing it on the Internet.
"We could have done oldies tours with the Turtles and the Grass Roots, but we didn't want to do the same three songs night after night," he said. "The Internet is the new frontier. It reminds me of the '60s all over again, the control that you have artistically."
Not, you understand, that the group would be opposed to having Sony or some other record label pick up the disc.
In the meantime, the Cowsills are on a roll, VH1 just did a "Where Are The Now?" segment that recently aired six times. "Entertainment Tonight" interviewed the band last week and CNN and "Extra" are on tap.
"This is the record we wanted to make. It's the best we have to offer," Bob said.
File under: Going Global.