“It’s the quintessential classic-rock tour.” Paul Cowsill checks in by phone from his home in Oregon. He and the band are on a little break from the Happy Together tour, a road show that travels from coast to coast doing 47 dates.
“Anyone who is still left,” he says, “has been on this tour. This is our third year. It’s six bands,” he says of the concert, “playing songs you absolutely know.” The implied meaning being that you know those songs if you were a child of the ’60s back when the Cowsills were brand new and charted several times with hits such as “Indian Lake” and “The Rain, the Park and Other Things.”
Cowsill’s 66 now. He was maybe 15 years old when music-industry madness broke loose for him, his brothers, and their sister Susan. “She was nine years old at the start of our heyday.”
From Rhode Island, the Cowsills were started by brothers Bill, Bob, and Barry. Their brother John joined up as drummer, and later Susan and Paul and their mother Barbara got in on the act. Said to be the inspiration for another family band called the Partridge Family (some of you will recall their television series), the Cowsills scored big hit-single money several times before the end of their band days. “Then we kinda dropped out of sight for a while,” Paul admits. “We raised kids.”
Of the original Cowsills, only Susan, Bob, Paul, and John are still alive; all are on the tour. “We’ve sold out every show. People are more hungry for this stuff than ever. Why? Because they didn’t grow up watching MTV. They actually went to live shows. They still do.” He pauses. “We’re all on our last legs. The audiences are trying to get in one last good show, and the bands are all trying to get in one last good gig.”