Thursday, January 05, 2006

Barry Cowsill, rest in peace

Susan Cowsill has an incredible new CD, "Just Believe It", as well as a demo track of her New Orleans anthem "Crescent City Snow," which she's been performing live. Obvious comparisons to Neko Case can be drawn. The recording is a highly-polished production accenting Cowsill's silvery voice which rises from the gut and rings out strong, as she belts out soaring rock riffs, and aching tales of love and joy in defiance of life's hardships. The fierce passion and yearning for more from life in "Nanny's Song" leaves a lump in my throat every time I hear it.

I talked to Susan Cowsill about her brother a few weeks ago. He went missing during Hurricane Katrina. She hadn't heard from him in a long time, and she feared the worst.

Barry Cowsill, siblings and mother (aka The Cowsills) were the inspiration for The Partridge Family TV series.

May you find peace Susan. I'm sorry for your loss.

The Times-Picayune:

Member of famed '60s singing family a hurricane-related death
1/5/2006, 4:08 p.m. CT
The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A body found on a New Orleans wharf in December has been identified as that of Barry Cowsill, a member of the popular 1960s singing family The Cowsills, family members and a Louisiana coroner confirmed Thursday.

Cowsill's body was recovered Dec. 28 from the Chartres Street Wharf, said Dr. Louis Cataldie, the Baton Rouge coroner and head of the state hurricane morgue in Carville.

Cowsill, 51, was identified Jan. 3 from dental records, Cataldie said.

Cataldie said he had not determined the cause of death but believed it to be related to Hurricane Katrina, which struck the city on Aug. 29. The family Web site said Cowsill, who had lived in New Orleans on and off for several years, left messages on his sister's telephone answering machine on Sept. 1 but had not been heard from since.

"They tell us he'd been dead for quite some time," Richard Cowsill, his brother, said in a telephone interview Thursday. "We love him and we're going to miss him, but he's in a much better place, in my mother's arms."

Richard Cowsill said no memorial service was planned and that his brother would be cremated. "He always said when I leave this place, you better party. And that's what we're planning to do," he said.

In the 1960s, Barry Cowsill and three of his brothers — Bill on guitar, Bob on guitar and organ, John on drums and he on bass — formed a popular musical group that was eventually joined by their mother, Barbara, and little sister, Susan. It became the inspiration for the TV series The Partridge Family.

The family from Newport, R.I., recorded a series of top hits between 1967-1970 including "The Rain, The Park and Other Things" and "Hair" and were spokespersons for the American Dairy Association, appearing in commercials and print ads for milk.

The Cowsills got their start very early in Newport. Bill and Bob taught themselves how to play guitar and Barry and John later joined in. By 1965, they had a regular gig at a local club and were spotted by a producer for NBC- TV's "Today" show who booked them.

The "Today" show led to a record deal and patriarch Bud Cowsill decided to add his wife Barbara and little sister Susan, 7, to the band. The band broke up in the 1970s, amid acrimony that reportedly left some members estranged from each other for several years.

"It wasn't just the end of a business, it was the end of a family," Bob Cowsill said in a 1990 interview.

Barbara Cowsill died in 1985.

A telephone call to Susan Cowsill, who lives in New Orleans, was not immediately returned.

In addition to his famous siblings, Cowsill is survived by two daughters and a son.


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