Like many '60s artists on the reunion path, the iconic family band the Cowsills has attracted diverse audiences — not strictly baby boomers but fans of all ages.
Founding member Bob Cowsill credits that to the ability of younger generations to discover music from decades past.
"Multi-generational audiences are the new mode," he says. "Our peers aren't dragging their kids to our shows. These kids know the music of our generation. They've got their own songs, but they love ours, too."
Formed in 1965, the Newport, R.I., based Cowsills initially centered on brothers Bill, Bob, Barry and John; their mother, Barbara, and younger siblings Susan and Paul joined later. Bob's twin brother Richard was the road manager. The band scored a pair of No. 2 hits: 1967's "The Rain, the Park & Other Things (Flowers in Her Hair)" and their 1969 version of "Hair" from the hit musical. Their song "Indian Lake" reached No. 10 in 1968, and the Cowsills cemented their popularity with several albums on MGM and their theme song for TV's "Love American Style."
The photogenic musical family inspired the sitcom "The Partridge Family."
Compared with other bands at the time, the Cowsills were squeaky-clean. Still, they mastered both bubblegum pop and psychedelic rock before splitting in the early '70s.
"Here was a bunch of kids," Bob Cowsill says, "trying to hold their own against the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Because of our age and cuteness, a lot of people judged us on our image."
Except for brief reunions in the late '70s and 1990s, the Cowsills essentially were retired when Bob and Susan decided to accept repeated offers to tour. Their own children had grown up, and they had lost several of their siblings, including Barry Cowsill, who died in Hurricane Katrina. Their brother John was busy playing drums in the current touring version of the Beach Boys, but they recruited Paul and Bob and Paul's sons Ryan and Brendan. This new incarnation of the Cowsills hit the road playing their hits and other '60s classics, finding unexpected success.
Not only has their warm reception been welcomed, but the Cowsills have gotten to prove themselves a legitimate musical unit all over again. "People are surprised when they see us live," Bob Cowsill says. "We're a real band. We're not fabricated."
THE COWSILLS • Perform at the Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31. Free admission, first come first served. Information: 800-745-3000 or www.mohegansun.com.