This show is archived here in case you missed it and would like to here it - or hear it again. Thanks Mark !
Song: The Rain, The Park, and Other Things
Mark: And The Cowsills are coming to New York. They'll be appearing next month. We've got them on the line right now. Actually on the line with us right now is Paul Cowsill. Paul, how are you?
Paul: I'm doing good, Mark. How you doin'?
Paul: We are so excited to be coming to New York.
Mark: You're going to be at BB King's on July 28th.
Paul: Right, at 8 o'clock.
Mark: Ever been to BB King's? It's a beautiful club.
Paul: No, we haven't. My brother John, who is drumming with The Beach Boys, he called us and said, "Man, you guys are at BB King's!" So, he's actually going to be flying ... They are having, The Beach Boys have a show in Alhambra on like the 28th and he's flying to be with us on the 29th. He's so excited about us playing at the club.
Mark: So, how Cowsill of course is your last name.
Paul: It is.
Mark: But to be a famous group and have that name. I mean it's like being Fred Beatles or Bob Rolling Stones.
Paul: Yeah, it's awesome. It's been awesome for the last 40 years, being that it is our last name. The kids more than us really. Our kids, they are always asked, "Wow is this part of the band?" So for all these years it's been remembered, you know. The name, which is nice. And you know what? I think we have to give a nod to The Partridge Family TV show.
Mark: Now what was the deal there? Originally it was going to be you guys, right?
Paul: Yeah, it was originally going to be us and then as time went by two things happen. The Screen Gems writers lived with us actually and then they went away and they didn't write their treatment of the show for like a couple of years. I was 14 when they came to the house and now I'm almost 16 and the words they were putting in our mouths ... it really wasn't working for us. But, Mark, the deal breaker was that it was always a vehicle for Shirley Jones.
Mark: Originally it would have been you and then Shirley Jones would have played your mother?
Paul: Yes, it was going to be Shirley Jones and The Cowsills. That was the name of the TV show. We had to break away from that and my Dad just went, "Well that's not going to work. Get yourselves some good actors. You got the story and have at it." So, The Partridge Family we know how famous that was, and what's nice is that we say without The Cowsills, there would have been no The Partridge Family. But without The Partridge Family, The Cowsills might have been forgotten. You don't know. I mean the songs, for sure, would never be forgotten, but the band itself, you never know why. So we love The Partridge Family and all the Cassidy's and Shirley. Shirley has introduced us at a couple of our own shows in the recent past years. So, everything is great with those guys.
Mark: And what were they thinking? That The Monkees was such a hit, let's find a real group and do it about them?
Paul: I, you know we were really little kids but I think that it offered that whole family wholesome thing that was happening, through us anyway.
Mark: Were you guys really that wholesome?
Paul: You know what? We were really wholesome and then we were really not wholesome.
Mark: Oh OK good.
Paul: Yeah, I mean, you know, for sure I still drink milk. I can drink a gallon of milk in like 7 minutes and nobody in the world I don't think can do that.
Mark: What were you, The Osmonds of New England?
Paul: You know what? We were the first family of Rock 'n Roll, cuz The Osmonds at the time, who I went to my senior prom with Alan and our double dates, they were doing Andy Williams. They were still hanging hard on the barber shop quartet stuff and man they were great. They inspired us for sure.
Mark: That's true. I guess you were the first great family group of rock 'n roll.
Paul: Yeah you know and we went right into the pop thing with "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things" in 1967. I mean that was really a pop song, you know, and so. And we were the first out.
Mark: First family - outside The Everly Brothers, I guess.
Paul: Well right, for sure. Gosh we could keep going with The King Family. We know Ray. They were something, you know. So there's always been bands and stuff like that. I think ours unique obviously because our Mom was really in the band. And she really, we had gosh we do our shows now and we're always going through chronically and so we have to play some really flops before we get to the hits in our show. And it's funny as we tell the story on stage, you know we didn't have a hit until Mom was in the band. And the last thing that Bob and Bill wanted, was a Mom in the band. I mean how uncool can it be. But, I'll tell you what, whoever thought that idea up, whether is was my Dad or Lenny Stogel - who was our manager, or Madison Avenue I guess in general, it was a winner idea.
Mark: We're talking to Paul Cowsill. The Cowsills are going to be at BB King's on July 28th. Hey talk about this when, a lot of groups do harmonies, but when you're actually related, brothers and sisters, you can, because you have this same vocal chords, you can get a certain closeness in that harmony that nobody else can get.
Paul: Well yeah you get that. And you know it's funny, my wife always comes up to me, Bob and Susan after a show and because of what you're saying, Mark, because of the tightness of the vocals, and how close they just are in tenior - each of our voices, we can sing and harmonize and it will sounds like six people are there. It's a weird feel. And it's funny, LuAnn would always say that and people will say, "Wow the sibling harmonies, you can't beat 'em." but/and I know that but I was watching I was watching this new show called Nashville Star and they've got these three sisters that are singing and I hear it. I hear the difference of their harmonies between other peoples who aren't related. It's so true and it's fun. Man, it's really fun because you can be up on stage, like you said, you'll lock into that spot and boy it is really exciting for us singing it.
Mark: Sibling harmony. You can get closer than other groups can get.
Mark: "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things" I guess that's where the whole country first came to know you.
Mark: And then of course "Hair" was a monsterous hit, but that was such a big Broadway musical I would have thought that every group would have fought to get that title song.
Paul: You know that's true, but here's how it happen was Carl Reiner, actually we just did The Florence Henderson Show and Carl Reiner was on there and we got to sit with him for awhile and talk about the old days, and what it was was a fashion show. Harper's Bizarre Magazine was putting together a TV show to talk about the times. The hair, the fashion and all this stuff. And we were like the goodie-goodie bubblegum as it were back then family band and so the producers of that TV showl, Carl Reiner, came to us and asked us if we would take the song "Hair" from the play and arrange it in a fashion that it could be done on a TV show. And so we did that. We all six sing a verse. Susan had "And spaghetti." You know Bill starts it. I got the second verse, Bob has the second part of the second verse. And these were all just camera shots. So we do the TV show in San Francisco with Carl Reiner and all of a sudden, you know, we finally go into the studio and we make this record which is just going to be on the TV show. No idea of making it a recording and releasing it and all of a sudden after the show we were going and my Dad says, "Man we got to put this song out. This is terrific." So he went to Mike Curb at MGM and Mike said, "No, you're not to put that song out. You will ruin The Cowsills by "Hair" out."
Mark: Because it was kind of a hippie/drug kind of craze.
Paul: And it was. You know on the TV show we put on wigs. We put on all these wigs and all these hip outfits, you know, danced around and did this whole video actually. It was like - now they have MTV, but back then it was a video from the TV show and it was a hoot.
Mark: And a huge, huge hit.
Paul: My God, it was a huge hit record and to tell you the truth was it was our last hit record. That might have been, that's a funny thing that it was our biggest and our last. So we went out on top.
Mark: Except you had one blockbuster after that I just love and that was the theme from Love, American Style.
Paul: Oh yeah
Mark: I love that record.
Paul: Hey we do that in the show and you know at the casinos and stuff. I'll be looking in the audience and we'll be talking about this TV show and stuff and I think people we're going to be doing "I Think I Love You" which we do do actually in our show, our 2-2 1/2 hour show we do "I Think I Love You" as a nob to The Partridge Family and loving them and loving that song, truly. But when we go into "Love, American Style" people, I can see people in the audience say to the person beside them, "They did this song." That's a great song and boy we enjoy doing it out on the road. It's a real hoot.
Mark: Well The Cowsills will be at BB King's on July 28th. Hey you guys are from Rhode Island, Newport, Rhode Island.
Paul: Yeah we are are from Newport, Rhode Island.
Mark: I'm trying to think of big famous musical artists from Rhode Island. I can think of Tavaris and you guys and that's about it, right?
Paul: Yeah, that is about it for Rhode Island.
Mark: That was the Rhode Island envasion.
Paul: It was. (chuckle) It was the Rhode Island envasion, short and sweet.
Mark: So, when you grew up there, I guess there wasn't a big musical scene for you to get involved
Paul: You know there wasn't. But what there was in Newport, Mark, was that yacht race every four years
Mark: That's true.
Paul: The Americus Cup and boy as a kid I would clean and fold sails and I would clean hulls. Me and my friend would. The boats would come in for The Cup and we would go down and we'd clean hulls all summer for these guys. And so the club scene in Newport was really happening at the time. There was a club called Dorian's and another club called The Muenchinger-King and my Dad got Bill, Bob, Barry and John and all of us into these clubs and at one point there was a time when Bill was the only oldest, he was the old enough to get down and be on the stage and my Dad put us all up in a hotel room and hooked up wires through the floor and stuff and so we played in the hotel room because they wouldn't let us be in the club. Cuz there was drinking and stuff like that. Bill I think was over 16 so they allowed him. But my Dad had a heck of a time with work permits and all that kind of thing, at the beginning cuz it was such a new thing having all your kids going into this business.
Mark: Besides The Beatles and Liverpool on the Murzey River with the working class from the sailors and everything. Here you are in Newport with these country club yacht's men.
Paul: Well right, but you got to remember that my Dad was in the Navy and that's the only reason we were in Newport.
Mark: Oh that's interesting.
Paul: We lived in Naval housing, while the yacht people came into Newport and did their thing. And so basically yeah we were the kids in town going and making money off they yacht race. So we were a blue collar family, I got to tell you, Dad was in the Navy and then he also worked at McDonald's and also was a painter all at the same time, trying to get this action going. And he really believed in it because gosh we couldn't have done it ourselves, so we got to give him a tip of the hat. Even though he was a real jerk, every now and then, we got to tip our hats to him because he got something way to the top. He got us to the top.
Mark: It's a wonderful story and what a great history. And if you've never seen The Cowsills they are going to be at BB King's.
Paul: Yes, please come on down. We got a great show. We go through all the hits but there's a bunch of new stuff and you know we just love playing and we're so excited to be out right now. Come on down. We'll have a grand old time that's for sure.
Mark: July 28th - BB King's and you guys have a website that...
Paul: Yep that's it. And you'll get there and the whole world of Cowsill is there, for sure.
Mark: Well, check it out. Well, Paul Cowsill, thanks for being with us.
Paul: Mark, are you coming to the show?
Mark: I'll try to, yeah.
Paul: Been great. Hope you can get there and see us.
Mark: Alright well thanks for being with us.
Paul: Alright, New York, thanks
Mark: Take care, bye.
Song: Love American Style