William Cowsill, lead vocalist and eldest brother of The Cowsills, passed on Friday in Calgary, Alberta. He had been suffering from emphysema and osteoporosis, among other things. His health has been declining for quite some time. His brother Barry had disappeared about the time Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. His body was found on December 28.
William "Bill" Cowsill and his brother Bob started performing in the early Sixties. Adding brothers Barry and John on bass and drums respectively, The Cowsills eventually got a recording contract and a hit single. "The Rain, the Park, and Other Things," with mother Barbara on backing vocals, eventually sold over two million copies. The Cowsills would go onto a successful career in the late Sixties, with several hit singles from "Indian Lake" to their remake of "Hair." Columbia Pictures once considered a series featuring the family band. That same company would produced The Patridge Family, for which is largely thought The Cowsills provided the inspiration. By the early Seventies The Cowsills' career was in decline. The single "On My Side," from the album of the same name, only reached #108 on the Billboard charts in 1971.
Bill Cowsill was born January 9, 1948 in Newport, Rhode Island. Following his career with The Cowsills, he moved to Canada. He also released a solo album, Nervous Breakthrough, which went nowhere. In 1978 he formed the band Blue Norhtern. Later, in the Nineties, he formed the group The Blue Shadows. Their debut album, On the Floor, was released in 1993. He also played with The Co-Dependants.
Just as I was saddened by his brother Barry's death, I am also saddened by Bill Cowsill's death. The Cowsills performed some of the background music of my childhood and to this day I still listen to their songs with a large degree of fondness. I must also express my condolences to The Cowsills themselves. To lose one brother is bad enough. To lose another in less than a year is even worse. At any rate, I doubt either Bill or Barry will soon be forgotten.