The Happy Together Tour will be making another regular stop at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez on Thursday night, and for the first time The Cowsills will be on the program, along with tour veterans The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, The Buckinghams, The Association, The Grass Roots, and Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere & the Raiders.
If you need a reminder — if you remember the ’60s, you weren’t there, right? — The Cowsills were the family band who served as the real-life inspiration for The Partridge Family. Their hit songs included “The Rain, The Park & Other Things” (think “I love the flower girl”), “Indian Lake” and “Hair.”
Today’s Cowsills consist of siblings Bob, Paul and Susan.? Bob talked to Noozhawk about the upcoming show and what it’s like to be on the Happy Together Tour.
Jeff Moehlis: What can people look forward to at the upcoming concert?
Bob Cowsill: Here’s the deal. The Happy Together Tour — this is our first year on it — is about the songs. We’re all a part of a bigger whole with the Happy Together Tour. It’s us — The Cowsills — The Grass Roots, The Association, The Buckinghams, Mark Lindsay, The Turtles.
And everyone had four or five of the most amazing hit records, so that when you put that together for an evening, you walk out of there going, “I can’t believe what I just heard!” I mean, really, the audio of your teen years — I know I was a teenager back then.
Of course the audiences just tap right into that, we’re all just living these songs again. Because these songs bonded us. They bonded our generation. And that’s why they’re so powerful today.
I don’t know if that’ll happen for subsequent generations, but it’s happening big time for ours. It’s just a blast. It feels so good because, you know, these songs were amazing. All of them.
JM: Back in the day when these songs were first coming out, did you know any of the other artists that are now on the tour?
BC: What’s interesting is that back then, at the time when we had our hits, number one, we were all very busy touring, and were just missing each other out there all the time.
But, we were very young when we had our hits. I was 16, 17, 18. We were a family group, so we didn’t really get to jump out and go meet all the other acts out there with hit records, because we were kind of stuck in the family.
So that’s what makes it more special today. When we’re on the bus with The Association, we’re sharing stories. “How did you do your vocals?” “We did them this way. How did you do them?”
Now we get to meet everybody, and everybody’s so nice. Back then, if you think you’re uncool at the age of 16, it doesn’t matter if you have a hit record, you know what I mean?
You see Tommy James coming out of a limousine with gun belts criss-crossing his chest, and you’re in a purple tuxedo and you’re opening for him, he’s in a cooler band than you (laughs).
We didn’t really get to know any of the other acts back in the day, which makes it more special that we do today.
JM: I saw the documentary Family Band: The Cowsills Story (by Noozhawk contributing writer Louise Palanker) at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and that showed a lot of highs and lows. Was it tough to revisit the darker days of the history of the band?
BC: Because we only did that documentary once, it was very tough. We went into the project not knowing really much. We did know that documentaries had to tell the truth, and you’re going to dig deeper than any other time you have. And it did end up being that we even stopped for two years.
But it ended up being worth it, of course. Hard things are. And it ended up being a success. It ran for two years on Showtime, and sells very well at our shows.
People are very interested in the story, because it’s more acute than most of the stories of the day. But it’s not that different, it’s just a more acute version of what other families were going through at the time.
It’s kind of the way it was, with the strict dad. There’s nothing new there. The Beach Boys and Murry Wilson, Joe Jackson and Bud Cowsill.
They were all knuckleheads, but your history’s your history, and it’s very compelling what happened to our family because of it.
It’s an interesting story. Every family has one, and I think every family could make a documentary.
JM: Yeah, but yours had a better soundtrack than most family’s documentaries would have (laughs).
BC: Well, you know, we’re a little different, and that’s why it’s more compelling. But people see themselves through it. It’s an interesting thing we went through there.
JM: It seems like you’re a perfect fit for this tour. I’ve seen it a couple times — The Association with all their vocal harmonies, Flo & Eddie doing The Turtles ... (Click here for a 2011 review.)
BC: Tell everyone they’re just going to have a great time. They’re going to know every single song.
And being a smaller part of the bigger whole is very powerful right now, for all of these groups. It was easy in the old days — you had a hit, you do a tour. Now we need each other, and we’re there for each other.
It’s a very amazing community now. I love it.