When waves of nostalgia crashed on the beaches of the 1980s, the Cowsills avoided the tide.
“We just started playing together again a couple of years ago,” Bob Cowsill explained from his home office in California. “Over the decades, everyone else continued to do oldies tours and stayed out there. ... But we didn’t have the time to do it.”
There also was a matter of quantity.
“Look, the Beach Boys can go out and sing for two hours and every hit is recognizable and was theirs,” Cowsill, 60, said. “The Cowsills can sing for an hour-and-a-half and you’ll have a good show and enjoy it, but we only had 3 1/2 hits. I’m sure we weren’t ready to make an oldies career out of that.”
(The three hits he speaks of are “Hair,” “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” and “Indian Lake,” all of which reached the top 10. The half? The theme from the TV series “Love, American Style.”)
But a double-tragedy changed the minds of the family band’s members after Barry Cowsill was killed in New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and lead singer Bill Cowsill died a few months later, on the eve of his brother’s memorial service.
“We took a double-hit,” Bob said. “It’s human nature in large families that when you lose two like that, the rest get tight. We tightened up real, real big.”
Bob, Paul and Susan Cowsill re-formed the group, joined by Susan’s husband on drums (original drummer John Cowsill tours with the Beach Boys) and two from the next generation of the family on guitar and keyboards.
“It’s still the family group,” Bob said.
The Cowsills perform Friday night at the Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf.
Bob, who has created computer software that’s used around the world in emergency medicine, said the family enjoys performing again as a sideline after being off on their own pursuits.
And the fans are still there.
“All of our peers are running the casinos and the fairs,” Bob said. “We’re everywhere — we’re the boomers.”