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The Cowsills

The real-life inspiration behind the hit television series The Partridge Family, the Cowsills -- comprised of teen siblings Bill, Bob, Barry, John, Susan, and Paul in tandem with mother Barbara -- were one of the biggest pop acts of the late '60s, scoring a series of hits including "The Rain, the Park and Other Things" and "Hair" with their angelic harmonies and sun-kissed melodies. The group's origins lie with Bill and Bob, who as children began their singing careers covering Everly Brothers hits. Given guitars by their father, Navy man William "Bud" Cowsill, the siblings soon recruited younger brothers Barry and John to play bass and drums, respectively, and as Beatlemania dawned, the teen foursome began performing live at school dances and church socials throughout their native Newport, RI. Soon, the Cowsills landed a regular weekend gig at the local club Bannisters Wharf, and in 1967 recorded the single "All I Really Wanta Be Is Me" for the Joda label. The record generated little response, however, and after an appearance on NBC's The Today Show, the group signed to Mercury Records, where they issued three more singles to negligible interest. Mercury producer Artie Kornfeld remained convinced of the Cowsills' commercial appeal, however, and set up another recording date independent of the label. This time, however, he convinced their siblings' mother, Barbara, to contribute vocals to the session, which yielded the stunning "The Rain, the Park and Other Things." With their wholesome family image serving as a marketing godsend, Kornfeld sealed a deal with MGM, which issued the single in the fall of 1967; it eventually rose to number two on the national charts, selling over a million copies in the process. The Cowsills' self-titled debut LP soon followed, and with the title track from 1968's We Can Fly, the family scored their second hit, in the meantime adding two more siblings -- sister Susan and brother Paul -- to the lineup. "Indian Lake" reached the Top Ten later that year, and in 1969 the group scored its biggest chart entry with the title song from the rock musical Hair. Around that same time, Columbia Pictures' television division dispatched a group of screenwriters to observe the Cowsills' daily lives for a possible series based on their story. The show never panned out, but was later fictionalized as The Partridge Family. By the time The Partridge Family hit the airwaves in 1970, however, the Cowsills' career was on the decline, and in the wake of the 1971 LP On My Side, the group disbanded. That same year, Bill Cowsill (who was briefly considered to replace Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys' touring lineup) issued a solo LP, Nervous Breakthrough, but otherwise the siblings were musically inactive for much of the decade. In the late '70s, Bob, John, Susan, and Paul recorded a batch of original material with producer Chuck Plotkin, but the sessions were never unreleased. Barbara Cowsill died on January 31, 1985, and her children spent the '90s in regaining some of their former musical prominence. Barry mounted a solo career, Bill founded the country group the Blue Shadows, and Susan joined the Continental Drifters, an all-star New Orleans-via-Los Angeles combo also featuring her husband, ex-dB Peter Holsapple, and onetime Bangle Vicki Peterson. In 1994, the "core four" -- Bob, John, Susan, and Paul -- contributed a newly recorded Cowsills track, "Is It Any Wonder," to the Yellow Pills, Vol. 1 pop compilation. A new studio album, Global, followed in 1998. When Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans on August 29, 2005, Susan and her family had already evacuated the area. However, brother Barry -- also a New Orleans resident at the time -- had not. Susan had received a phone call from Barry as late as September 1. The family searched for any sign of him for four months before his body was recovered and identified on December 28. Another death followed in 2006, when Bill passed away in February at the age of 58 after lingering health issues. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Stations Featuring
The Cowsills

    Classic Summer Songs

    Classic Summer Songs
    2 songs

    '60s Oldies

    '60s Oldies
    1 song

    Oldies Hits

    Oldies Hits
    1 song

    Oldies Party

    Oldies Party
    1 song

Albums by
The Cowsills

Top Songs by
The Cowsills

  1.   Song
  2.   The Rain, The Park and Other Things
  3.   Indian Lake
  4.   Hair
  5.   Love, American Style
  6.   We Can Fly
  7.   Meet Me at the Wishing Well
  8.   Walk Away Renee
  9.   Prophecy of Daniel and John the Divine (Six-Six-Six)
  10.   Gotta Get Away from It All
  11.   Dover Mine
  12.   There Is a Child
  13.   Heather Says
  14.   Can You Love?
  15.   On My Side
  16.   Thinkin' About the Other Side
  17.   Silver Threads and Golden Needles
  18.   Yesterday's Girl
  19.   Painting the Day
  20.   Who Can Teach the Songbird How to Sing
  21.   River Blue
  22.   Contact Mae
  23.   Heaven Held
  24.   Beautiful Beige
  25.   One Man Show
  26.   Cheatin' on Me
  27.   If You Can't Have It--Knock It
  28.   The Bridge
  29.   Make the Music Flow
  30.   Most of All
  31.   Good Vibrations
  32.   Newspaper Blanket
  33.   In Need of a Friend
  34.   I Need a Friend
  35.   Mystery of Life
  36.   Gettin' Into That Sunny, Sunny Feelin' Again
  37.   Captain Sad and His Ship of Fools
  38.   Pennies
  39.   How Can I Make You See
  40.   Troubled Roses
  41.   Sunshine of Your Love
  42.   (Stop, Look) Is Anyone There?
  43.   (Come 'Round Here) I'm the One You Need
  44.   Mister Flynn
  45.   La Rue du Soleil
  46.   That's My Time of Day
  47.   What Is Happy, Baby
  48.   Down on the Farm
  49.   When Everybody's Here
  50.   11 X 11
  51.   Ask the Children
  52.   Gray, Sunny Day
  53.   Act Naturally
  54.   Can't Measure the Cost of a Woman Lost
  55.   Dreams of Linda
  56.   Monday, Monday
  57.   Hello, Hello
  58.   Please Mr. Postman
  59.   The Cruel War
  60.   Good Golly Miss Molly/Devil With a Blue Dress On
  61.   Paperback Writer
  62.   The Path of Love
  63.   The Fantasy World of Harry Faversham
  64.   A Time for Remembrance
  65.   Reach Out (I'll Be There)
  66.   Poor Baby
  67.   Good Ole Rock & Roll Song
  68.   Christmastime
  69.   Once There Was a Time
  70.   Thinking of You

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