A Conversation With The Cowsills

Published on July 30th, 2008 in: Current Faves, Interviews, Issues, Music, Popcasts, Retrovirus, Video |

By Mandy Mullins and Jaime Sparrowhawk
(with lots of help from Paul Cowsill!)

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Susan, Paul, and Bob Cowsill

The Cowsills are one of the foremost musical families in pop history. Brothers Barry, Bill, Bob, and John formed the group in 1965. Joined by their mother, Barbara (a.k.a. “Mini-Mom”), they recorded their self-titled debut album in 1967 and achieved their first hit, “The Rain, The Park and Other Things” (#2). A short time later, brother Paul and sister Susan (the youngest Cowsill) rounded out the lineup. With unparalleled harmonies soaring above an infectious bubblegum beat, The Cowsills went on to release a slew of LPs and singles, including the top ten hits “Indian Lake” (#10, 1968) and “Hair” (#2, 1969), and served as the inspiration for the popular television show The Partridge Family before disbanding in 1972.

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The siblings regrouped in 1978 to record the Cocaine Drain album, which was figuratively and literally lost to production squabbles and stolen master tapes. Beginning with a partial reformation in 1990, The Cowsills have participated in several tours and released their first new album since the 70s (1998’s Global). They reunited in their current incarnation after the sudden, successive losses of Barry (a victim of Hurricane Katrina) and Bill (following a struggle with multiple illnesses). Evidenced by their well-received South By Southwest performance, a series of concerts for Epcot Center’s Flower and Garden Festival, and their recent stint on the “Original Idols” tour, their enduring sound and spirit is a worthy and fitting tribute.

Susan Cowsill is a formidable force in her own right. In addition to a longtime run with The Continental Drifters (with her husband and current Cowsills drummer Russ Broussard; sister-in-law Vicki Peterson of The Bangles; and ex-husband Peter Holsapple of The dB’s), she has performed and recorded with countless artists, including Dwight Twilley, The Smithereens, and Redd Kross. Susan released her debut solo album, Just Believe It, on her own label, Blue Corn, in 2004. She is also well-known for her dedicated activism, especially in her home base of New Orleans.

Download the Popcast here
Running Time: 38:19

Our conversation with The Cowsills includes discussion of:

  • Susan’s solo album—her motivations, inspirations, and why it didn’t come to fruition sooner
  • Hilarious accounts of her interactions with Davy Jones (with great insight from Paul!)
  • The 16 Magazine experience, as both readers and subjects
  • Susan and Russ’s recent trip to Japan for the World P.E.N. Forum On Natural Disasters and culture
  • Musical and athletic triumph at SXSW
  • The manufacturing and manipulation of pop stars
  • The familial relationships that form within bands, siblings, and strangers alike
  • The true definition of success and self-satisfaction

. . . and much more!

Additional Resources:

For more information on Susan Cowsill, please check out her Official Site and her MySpace page. For more information on the other Cowsills, please go to Cowsill.com.


Click here for. . .

Videos of The Cowsills performing “Just Believe It” and “Hair” at the Epcot Center Flower and Garden Festival, May 25 2008

More photos of The Cowsills in concert

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