8:00 am
Fri April 19, 2013

The Cowsills: Siblings Share a Musical Family's Joy, Pain in Documentary

In the late 1960s, The Cowsills, a family band from Rhode Island,  rose to pop music stardom with hit singles like “The Rain, the Park and Other Things,”  "Hair," and “Indian Lake.”

The Cowsills were known for their clean-cut image and vocal harmonies, but often mixed their  arrangements with a dash of psychedelia. 

They were also the real-life inspiration for television’s Partridge Family.       

From left: Paul, Susan and Bob Cowsill

The band’s largest lineup consisted of five young brothers, their little sister Susan and mother Barbara.   A sixth brother was kept out of the band by patriarch Bud Cowsill, who also managed—some say mismanaged—the group.

The Cowsills broke up in the early 1970s, but various members have regrouped over the years. The current lineup includes siblings Paul, Susan and Bob.      

This year the Cowsills are again creating some buzz with a revelatory documentary, produced over a seven-year period.

In it, all seven siblings talk candidly about growing up and performing under the control of their abusive, alcoholic father, and their own personal struggles. Two of the Cowsill brothers, Bill and Barry, died before the documentary was finished.          

Parents Barbara and Bud Cowsill died in 1985 and 1992, respectively.

The Showtime documentary Family Band: The Cowsills Story,​ airs at various times through May 26.