I wasn’t a Cowsill fan as a kid but since they’re the reason for The Partridge Family, I thought they were deserving of a blog. The Partridge Family was based on the Cowsill family. Screen Gems asked the Cowsills to portray themselves in their own TV sitcom but wanted the mom to be played by Shirley Jones. I guess the Cowsills didn’t like Screen Gems dissin’ their mom so they said no to the deal. The Partridge Family continued without The Cowsills and shot a young David Cassidy to fame.
The Cowsills were from Newport, Rhode Island. The band was formed in the spring of 1965 by brothers Barry, Bill, Bob, and John. After some success, they added their mom, their sister Susan, and brother Paul. Bob’s twin brother Richard served as road manager.
- The Cowsills had a hit in 1967 with The Rain, The Park, and Other Things.
- Had a hit in 1968 with Indian Lake.
- They had their own TV special in 1968 called A Family Thing which guest starred Buddy Ebsen.
- The 1969 Sears catalog advertised for $10.99 a Cowsill drum set.
- They had a hit in 1969 with Hair.
- Freddy Weller had a country hit with their song “Indian Lake”.
- They were spokespeople for the American Dairy Association and appeared in ads promoting milk.
- Performed the theme for the David Niven film The Impossible Years.
- Sang the theme song for the first season of Love American Style.
- The dad caught Bill smoking pot in 1970 and kicked him out of the band.
- John Cowsill played percussion and sang back-up vocals on the song Jenny (867-5309)
- John Cowsill was a regular member of The Beach Boys touring band.
- Paul was in the Navy and once won a boxing round against Jay North (of Dennis The Menace fame) during basic training.
- Paul Cowsill is a farmer in Oregon.
- Both Barry and Susan were living in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Susan got out in time. Barry did not.
- Bill died the night of Barry’s memorial service.
- During the summers of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 the Cowsills toured with The Turtles on the Happy Together tour.
I saw some of the members of the Cowsill family at the state fair about ten years ago. I went to the concert to see Leif Garrett and Ian Mitchell (Bay City Rollers), but some other teen idols were there as well. Barry Williams (aka Greg Brady) was the host and did a great job. Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods were there. I don’t know how many actual members were there. I only know that Billy, Don’t Be a Hero song but I guess they had other hits. The other group there was the Cowsills. They were the only group I really didn’t know a lot about but they ended up being the highlight of the concert for me. Their songs were nice and they seemed like a fun family that loved each other. They seemed to be having a great time which I don’t think can be faked. The Cowsills seem like a nice family and I’m thankful for them because without them, there would be no Partridge Family.