Catching Up with The Cowsills
The Cowsills are what sunshine would be if it were a song. Their buoyant harmonies narrated the Flower Power era, from “Hair” to “Love American Style,” and their lives became the inspiration for The Partridge Family. Bob Cowsill shares his stories of his siblings, their rise to fame and how much they are looking forward to seeing friends and fans on the 2018 Flower Power Cruise.
“We never predicted and couldn’t tell back then that this thing would have any lasting power at all,” Cowsill says about their career and songs that have long stood the test of time. “Look at this,” he adds, “we’ve now got a whole cruise based on songs like ours. It’s amazing. And to be a part of it is really an honor because this was a pretty big, heady time. All the groups that are on the Flower Power Cruise represent that era that was so full of great music and spirit and love.”
These themes dominated the sound of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s and heavily influenced the Cowsill siblings despite their young age. “Our roots were folk and country and pop music. But when the Beatles came out, it was like ‘oh okay, that’s what we’re going to do.’” So they added a bit of rock n’ roll to their repertoire and found their signature sound.
About that signature sound…what many don’t know is that the family wrote and performed their own songs. “When you look at a family like us you’re not thinking serious musicians, serious artists,” Cowsill explains. “But we were quite serious musicians and writers and singers in our own right, even though Susan was 7, 8 or 9.” Adding to that was a wholesome image that seemed at odds with the counter-culture lifestyle of the time.
“When we came out, it was a very heady time with the Vietnam War and racial tensions and acid rock and Motown. Here comes this family, unintimidating in the midst of all of this and people embraced us as a nice break. In a way we were like a breath of fresh air in the middle of all the tumult and the protests and the war.”
That breath of fresh air blew in a slew of hit singles. Not only did The Cowsills record “Hair” and “Love American Style,” they delivered “We Can Fly,” “Indian Lake” and “The Rain, The Park & Other Things,” known by most as “The Flower Girl.” “Our first million-seller was ‘The Flower Girl,’” says Cowsill. “The recording of it stands the test of time and is forever associated with the Flower Power movement. But what surprises all of us is the lasting power of it.” “When you make a record that is a million-seller as a kid, you appreciate it so much more as an adult,” he continues. “And I think that’s what happens with our audience also. We all grew up with our music and it now creates incredible memories for all of us.”
While their talent and hit songs stood alongside the greatest artists of the day, the Cowsill kids themselves didn’t get to spend much time around their peers. Much too young to hang out with other bands and songwriters, the siblings see The Flower Power Cruise as a way to make up for lost time. “It’s great meeting all these other groups on the Flower Power Cruise. In the old days we didn’t play together so it’s great to meet after all these years. Over time, we’ve bonded with so many; The Association, The Turtles, Gary Lewis is amazing, Chuck Negron, Tommy James. It’s great to hear their stories.”
Fans aboard the cruise will get to hear the Cowsills’ stories, too. “We are the type of band who loves our fans in a way that a cruise like this is made for,” he says emphatically. “We hang out and we get to visit and we’re quite approachable. We love that part of it. You bond and make special friends that you keep long after you leave that cruise.”
“Back then, the only way to see a band was either on a TV show or at a concert,” he explains. “That’s it. There was no internet and all you could do was hope they came to your town. Now you can take a cruise with us! The Flower Power Cruise is so great because we couldn’t get to each other before but now we get to sit and talk. We’re on a cruise with the fans all week, you get to hear great stories from people and get to share your stories. It’s like we’ve had a relationship all these years and are finally meeting.”
Even if you can’t make it on the cruise next February, The Cowsills still want to meet you. “Come on over to Cowsill.com and say hi in our guest book,” he says warmly. “And we have the Happy Together tour coming up for those who live in the towns we’re performing in. But we really hope we’ll see you on the ship!”