Song: Indian Lake
Ghosty: A Top Ten hit for the Cowsills in 1968 “Indian Lake.” Like to title of their riveting and acclaimed documentary film Family Band , the Cowsill family has brought joy to millions since their debut in 1966 and today in 2016, The Cowsills – Bob, Paul and Susan – John Cowsill is currently drumming with The Beach Boys – are still doing just that. In fact, they are currently on the Happy Together Tour with Flo and Eddie, Chuck Negron from Three Dog Night, Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders, Billy J. Kramer, and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. And they’ll be back in our area in just a few weeks with a stop at the Bergen PAC in Englewood, New Jersey on August 16th. We’ve got Bob, Paul and Susan Cowsill on the phone with us directly from the tour bus now, so let’s welcome The Cowsills.
Susan, Paul, Bob: Hello, Hello, Hello
Ghosty: Well who else is on that tour bus with you?
Paul: On our bus we have Chuck Negron from Three Dog Night. We have Billy J. Kramer with us and then the crew – sound and stage manager. And also Tessa the merch girl is on it.
Susan: And that’s the way we like it.
Ghosty: You know I have to say, I saw the Happy Together Tour last year and – I’m not the only one to say this because I’ve heard a bunch of people say this – of course everyone was wonderful on the tour, but The Cowsills were a revelation to me.
Bob: Ah, well we appreciate that. Problem was we stayed under the radar so long, everyone is so shocked to see us, but it’s really great. The response has been real good out here and we’re real happy about that.
Ghosty: Well what was astonishing to me was not necessarily how great you all sound live, but rather how close to the records you sound. I mean you were kids when you cut hits like “Indian Lake” and yet you still sound exactly the same.
Paul: You know we’ve been looking at it ourselves and it’s interesting because we think we are singing better than we ever sang and Bob has been hard core about never changing these keys and so we’re singing them in the same keys, but I really think we have stronger voices.
Susan: Absolutely the stronger voices.
Bob: (Knocking noise) Now here’s the tour bus and we have a knock on the door on the tour bus.
Susan: Let’s see who it is
Bob: Maybe if it’s Chuck Negron. Let’s see if it’s Chuck. (Lots of talking can’t distinguish)
Ghosty: I just lost control of The Cowsills everybody. (more talking)
Bob: This is Ron (??) our road manager.
Paul: We won’t tell you his last name though.
Susan: Hi, sorry about that. Welcome to the bus.
Paul: And you know what? I forgot what I was saying so I just want to say I love you man.
Susan: The Happy Together Tour is awesome, come out and see us play.
Ghosty: We were talking about singing in the original key.
Bob: The ____ keys. Yes I … doing the songs in the same keys, actually helps to be honest and it makes the live performance sound more like the recording and that helps a lot also, I got to tell you. And there’s three of us so we have three vocalists so that is so fun you can’t believe it. To harmonize like that.
Ghosty: And you also had these video screens behind you playing clips of the group from television in the 60s, but musically, you’re right, it’s like no time has past. Visually, of course, it’s a little different. I mean Susan, you were about six or seven in those clips. You were about the size of a peanut then.
Susan: You’re right. I was pretty darn cute. Somebody was just showing me the other day one of those clips. One of the kids from the tour boy I was one tiny, tiny little thing.
Paul: You were
Susan: My little pixy hair-do.
Bob(??): What do you call little people Susan?
Susan: I call – oh the faries???
Paul: No, just a little kid. You’ll call … you’ll say, “Hey ….”
Susan: Goochy. A little goocher. A little bit. I call them little bit.
Paul: Well Susan was a little bit.
Susan: I was a little bit.
Ghosty: Well, well here’s the thing, since you are sounding so great, is there a possibility of new music from The Cowsills?
Susan: Absolutely and thank you for asking. The Cowsills will be going into the studio in February of 2017 and a hopeful release by the end of that year. We’ll see how it goes.
Ghosty: Very, very cool and maybe if you’re on the Happy Together Tour next year you might be able to slip in a couple new songs.
Susan: And wouldn’t that be dandy. And your lips to God’s ears about us being on this tour again next year. We’re really hoping for it. It’s a blast.
Paul: August 12th, all the way through August 16th, we’re back in – well actually August 8th through August 16th, we’re back in Pennsylvania and New York and New Jersey.
Ghosty: Yeah, on the 11th you’re in Hamburg, NY. On the 12th Morristown, New Jersey and 13th Asbury Park, the 15th Pomona, NY, Englewood, NJ at the Bergen PAC of course . We’ll have tickets for that show, some lucky winners. I understand that you also make a point to say hello to people and greet after the show.
Paul: It’s been a thing that we’re done our whole life. We learned that as kids from our Dad, man. He said, “Get on out there and you sign every autograph”, you know. And we did that then and we’re still doing that now. It’s not something that they here but we kind of insisted that this is part of our life and these people have been a part of our life for so long that we want to see them, meet them, talk with them. We get to see pictures of the old days where we’re little kids and they’re little kids. And it was just different for The Cowsills and their fans because we all grew up together.
Song: We Can Fly
Ghosty” The Cowsills with 1968’s “We Can Fly” Bob, Paul and Susan Cowsill are joining us right now. They are part of Flo and Eddie’s Happy Together Tour 2016 and they have a bunch of shows in our area beginning August 12th at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, New Jersey and including a stop at the Bergen PAC in Englewood, New Jersey on August 16th. You know it’s common knowledge that TV’s “The Partridge Family” started out as a project for you guys to star in. In fact, one only needs to look at publicity photos of The Cowsills circa 1969 to see that “The Partridge Family” was very closely modeling on your family. Now in your travels, have you ever run into David Cassidy and said, “Hey, you know buddy, this was our deal here” that you had ….
Bob: You know what we would do if we saw David Cassidy? We would give him three big hugs is what we would do.
Susan: Yeah but we love the Partridge Family.
Bob: You know what? We love those guys and look, we know what happen and we all lived the history but we’re all beyond it and we think they did a great job. They came to visit us, you know, they got … they wanted to go central casting and they made a really cool TV show. They came at a time when our star was diminishing a bit and they kept us in the limelight just by association. And now we mention them all the time. So, we have a good relationship.
Paul: It couldn’t have been ..
Susan: One doesn’t exist without the other frankly
Susan: And that continues
Bob: We did get to meet Shirley Jones when we were interviewing her for our documentary and she ….
Susan: Adopted us. She said she’d adopt us. I actually had a dream that she did. It was after my mother passed away. I dreamt that Shirley Jones adopted me and I knew things were different for our family right at that moment.
Ghosty: Can I ask you to clear up this little rumor that I’ve heard that the sound effect of the rain on “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things” is actually a frying pan?
Bob: Well, here’s what it is. Artie Kornfeld is our producer of that recording and he wrote the song. They brought in over 50 samples out of – samples were hard to come by in 1967 of rain. And none of them worked he said. And what they ended up using was the sound of sizzling bacon in a frying pan.
Paul and Susan: Yeah baby
Bob: That’s the rain at the beginning of “The Rain, The Park, and Other Things”
Paul: That’s why everybody loves it. Because it’s BACON !
Song: The Rain, The Park, and Other Things
Ghosty: We’re back talking to The Cowsills and I’d like to ask you about your cover version of “Silver Threads and Golden Needles” Now of course so many people have recorded that song over the years, but your rendition is very different. The break on that goes into what I can only call early progressive rock territory.
Bob: Yeah that was an interesting experience. That arrangement was actually the arrangement of a guy named Waddy Watchel who’s a friend of ours. And Waddy arranged “Silver Threads” he used to do it as a cover song with his band and we loved the arrangement so much that when we had the opportunity to record it and yeah it wanders off a bit but it comes back.
Ghosty: I know it does but what’s great about it is that vocally ….
Bob: Oh we love it.
Ghosty: If you really listen, it sounds a little bit like the sort of thing Queen would do a little later on.
Bob: Yeah all the “Ah, ah, ah, ah’s”
Bob: They put that out as a single. It only went up to the Top 50 or something. It did not do well. It wasn’t a big hit but actually we did hear from the writer, the writers of “Silver Threads” and that was one of their favorite arrangements so we were proud about that too.
Song: Silver Threads and Golden Needles
Ghosty: We’re talking to Bob, Paul and Susan Cowsill today on the Vintage Rock & Pop Shop. Now is it true that your hit version of “Hair” was at first rejected by your record label?
Bob: Well the Hair thing started when Carl Reiner who was a comedian back then was having a TV special in San Francisco and ask us, he sent us the Broadway musical album before it was even known and said, “Take Hair in and do something that you can lip synch to. We’ll put it on TV. It’s going to be a hoot.” And so we did. We liked what we ended up doing to it, to the song and we sent it to MGM and … we’re coming off “Indian Lake” and so they sent it right back to us and said, “This is terrible. We’re not putting it out. It’s not the Cowsills. We don’t know what you’ve done here.” So we were at WLS in Chicago – big 50,000 Watts station back then, especially at night – and we had an interview that night and the disc jockey we were on with in the evening said well … We told him the story and he said, “Let’s put it on the air.” And they ask the listeners to guess who it was and nobody could. They were going to give them some t-shirt or something if they could. But, anyway, it got air-play and it took off out of that market and it just became our biggest, biggest hit ever. And MGM was forced to get on board and they learned their lesson and … but we all do. We all learn lessons … including our record company at times. But remember there’s only five of them, if even that many, they needed … they went the way we thought they’d go.
Ghosty: Once again The Cowsills will be performing in our area as part of the Happy Together Tour along with Flo and Eddie of The Turtles, Chuck Negron from Three Dog Night, The Spencer Davis Group on the second leg of the tour, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders and you can catch them August 11th at the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, New York, August 12th at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, the 13th at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, New Jersey, August 15th at Provident State Park in Pamona, New York, and August 16th Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, New Jersey. And this tour goes all the way through September 3rd so do you have your own tour dates after that or are you going to take a little break?
Paul: Well actually after this we start back up about September 21st, 22nd, 23rd in Springfield, Massachusetts at the Big E. It’s a big festival and we’ll be there for three days and then we head to Wisconsin and we’re going to do The Cutting Room in New York City. All there at the end of September. And then Wisconsin is October 1st.
Bob: And then we have a cruise in January.
Paul: Get on that cruise tour!!
Bob: If you just google “Where The Action Is Cruise” you’ll see who’s on this one. It’s a lot of fun. It’s like a Happy … kind of a Happy Together Tour on water. But check it out. You’ll love it.
Ghosty: Wow The Cowsills are going full speed, full time.
Susan: You bet your buddy we are.
Ghosty: Well it was a great thrill to see the Happy Together Tour last year. I’m glad you’re on it this year and hope you’ll be on it next year too. And my final question is for Paul. Now I saw you all in concert last year and Paul you just bounce around the stage with so much energy. Where do you get all that energy? I’m …. Seen you.
Paul: Oh wow. If you could see me right now when you said “I have a question for Paul, I …” (Susan talking in back but I can’t understand) (can’t understand) Me, who me? Listen, here’s the deal. I am a very excitable person and this music excites me. It’s kind of like this. It’s is when the NBA team is going for the championship and the analyst goes to the coach and goes, “Well how do you get your team up for this?” And the coach looks at the analyst and is going, “Are you kidding me? This is the NBA finals.” We’re on the quite essential classic rock tour and all the biggies are here. So if you can’t get excited and give 120% to every person in the audience, then you don’t belong here. I’m a driven person. I’m passionate about what I do and when I’m up there singing with my brother and sister, there’s just nothing better. Nothing better in the whole world.
Bob: And Warren Zevon put that into song about Paul called “Excitable Boy,” so if you check that out.
Susan: Little known fact. Possible myth.
Ghosty: Well again I want to thank you so much for coming on. The Cowsills. Where can people go online or on Facebook to catch up with you.
Bob: Cowsill.com No s Cowsill.com and you can get linked to Susan’s site and you can get linked to … I think Paul has a site it’s called Excitable Paul site. I’m kidding I’m kidding, but you can get to everybody if you come to Cowsill.com
Ghosty; Well thanks so much and have a great rest of your day.
Paul: Thanks Great talking to everybody. Go see … and get to a show.
Susan: Bye Cowsi boooo
Song: Love American Style