The real-life inspiration behind the hit television series The Partridge Family, the Cowsills — teen siblings Bill, Bob, Barry, John, Susan, and Paul in tandem with mom 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”, “Indian Lake, and “Hair,” distinguished by 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 1965 recorded the single “All I Really Wanta Be Is Me” for the Joda label; the record generated little response, however, but after an appearance on NBC’s The Today Show the group signed with Mercury Records, issuing three more singles.
Upon signing with MGM in 1967, The Cowsills had their first million-selling single, “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” (usually called the flower girl song) which was featured most recently in Jim Carrey’s movie, “Dumb and Dumber”. They performed on such notable TV shows as the Ed Sullivan Show, the Johnny Cash show, the Tonight show, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, and also had their own NBC television special in 1968. “Indian Lake” followed in the summer of ‘68 and in 1969 they had their biggest hit, the multi-million selling title song from the musical “Hair”. The Cowsills also recorded the theme song for the TV show “Love, American Style” which is still one of the most popular songs they perform in their shows. They were one of the early pop acts to record commercials for television (nationally shown milk ads for the American Dairy Association) and having already been inducted in to the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame there is currently a serious movement to ensure their induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.
Today the Cowsills tour and perform together (although brother Barry died during the Katrina hurricane and brother Bill passed away at the same time from illnesses in Canada) and their harmonies are still as infectious and bright as ever.