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Biography

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Mini Bio (2)

The chirpy, bubble-gum singing family from Newport, Rhode Island who inspired TV's The Partridge Family (1970) (not to mention the sibling-oriented groups "The Jackson 5" and The Osmonds") would expand over the years to include siblings Billy (born 1948); twins Bob and Dick (born 1950); Paul (born 1952); Barry (born 1954); John (born 1956) and little sister Susan (born 1959), plus their mom Barbara (born 1929).

The group originally formed in 1965 with just two brothers (Billy and Bob) who were heavily influenced by "The Everly Brothers," but Barry and John quickly joined in when their obsessions turned to "The Beatles." Booked at school dances, college parties, church socials, hotels and clubs, their first recorded single was "All I Really Want to Be Is Me." The boys were discovered by a producer for NBC's "Today" show who booked them for an appearance. They soon came to the attention of Mercury Records who produced their singles "Party Girl," "Most of All" and Simon & Garfunkel's "A Most Peculiar Man," all of which floundered. MGM Records picked them up after Mercury dropped them and released their debut album, initially started by Mercury, in November of 1967.

By early the following year the harmonic family had their first pop hit single "The Rain, the Park, & Other Things" (mom Barbara had joined in to sing on the record and stayed) which went to #2 on the pop charts and went gold. The "family" angle really kicked in after this and siblings Susan and Paul were quickly filtered into the group. Extensive touring ensued (billed as "America's First Family of Song") with plenty of network TV show appearances ("The Ed Sullivan Show," "The Tonight Show"). The wholesome Cowsills hosted their own NBC-TV special and even became spokespersons for the American Dairy Association, appearing in milk commercials and print ads. They also recorded the popular TV theme to the comedy anthology Love, American Style (1969). A couple more major chart hits came their way with "Indian Lake" (#6) and "We Can Fly" (#17). They even took a risk and challenged the popular theme to the counterculture rock stage musical "Hair" with their own spin and earned themselves another #1 hit.

Under the strict management of patriarch and former Navy officer William "Bud" Cowsill, however, discontentment and major rifts quickly boiled over within the family structure. Bud was the one who pulled the plug signing the children up for the "Partridge" TV show when it was learned that Barbara's role would be played by someone else (Shirley Jones). Billy, with designs on being a rock-and-roller, bucked the goody-goody teen idol image and was fired from the group for his defiance. Dropped by their record label, the group permanently disbanded in 1971. Barry and Billy went off to do solo work while Susan and three of the brothers, Bob (on guitar and organ), John (on drums) and Paul occasionally reunited on tour. Various family regroupings would occur over the decades with such cover names as "The Secrets" or "The Critics."

Sadly, mother Barbara died of cancer in 1985 at age 56 and father Bud passed away in 1992 at age 67. Son Barry, the bassist and Danny Bonaduce-like prototype who battled severe depression and an acute, longstanding substance abuse problem, wound up a 2005 victim of Hurricane Katrina (along with over 1,100 others). Lead singer/guitarist Billy, also an alcohol and drug abuser, died from chronic health problems in 2006. Both brothers were only in their 50s.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Barbara died in 1985 from emphysema. The family received word of Billy dying while doing the memorial for Barry. The dates for their death are off and Barry was not a victim of Katrina. The family heard from him after the hurricane. He was using again and had a plane ticket to go to rehab when Katrina hit. His family had sent him the ticket. His sister Susan and her family left and were sitting on a bridge near Slidell La. when waters where rising but made it to a safe place. Their father Bud died of a rare blood condition and complications from alcoholism. He was just mean too. I watch their movie tonight on cable, the one they made, not others. So that is why I wanted to update this.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: JH

Trivia (6)

Real life inspiration behind the TV series The Partridge Family (1970).
Barry Cowsill's body was found by police at the Charles Street Wharf in New Orleans on December 27, 2005. He was 51. He was reported missing around the time that Hurricane Katrina hit.
Barry Cowsill, who released a solo album "As Is" in 1998 and battled long-standing substance abuse problems, was last heard leaving a message on sister Susan Cowsill's answering machine after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, saying, "I don't know how to get out of town except wait for a bus . . . I've been so . . . lonely . . . I hope I get in touch with you". His body wasn't discovered until four months later.
The group formed in 1965 and was billed as "America's First Family of Music". The siblings turned down the opportunity to appear as themselves on The Partridge Family (1970) series when producers nixed the idea of having mother Barbara Cowsill play the TV mom in favor of Shirley Jones. Barbara Cowsill died in 1985 of cancer at age 56.
Bill Cowsill died February 17, 2006, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He suffered multiple major medical problems such as emphysema, osteoporosis, Cushing's syndrome and other ailments and was coping with the sequelae of an eight-hour back surgery in which one lung had to be collapsed.

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