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The real-life inspiration behind the hit television series The Partridge Family, The Cowsills were one of the biggest pop acts of the late '60s, distinguished by their angelic harmonies and sun-kissed melodies. The group's origins lie with brothers Bill and Bob Cowsill, who as children began their singing careers covering Everly Brothers hits. Given guitars by their father, the siblings soon recruited younger brothers Barry and John to play bass and drums, respectively, and as Beatlemania dawned, the teen foursome began performing live at school dances and church socials throughout their native Newport, Rhode Island.

In 1965, The Cowsills recorded the single "All I Really Want To Be Is Me" on the Joda label. The record generated little response until the quartet appeared on NBC's The Today Show - then the group took off. They signed with Mercury Records, releasing three more singles. Expanding their lineup to seven (brother Paul, sister Susan, and mother Barbara joining the original four), they signed with MGM in 1967 and scored their first million-selling single, "The Rain, the Park & Other Things." They performed on such notable TV shows as the Ed Sullivan Show, the Johnny Cash Show, the Tonight Show, Merv Griffin, and Mike Douglas, and they also had their own NBC television special in 1968. "Indian Lake" and "We Can Fly" followed in the summer of that year, and in 1969 they had their biggest hit, the multi-million-selling title song from the musical Hair.

The Cowsills also recorded the theme song for the TV show Love, American Style, which is still one of the most popular songs they perform in their shows. They were one of the early pop acts to record commercials for television (nationally-shown milk ads for the American Dairy Association), and there is currently a serious movement to ensure their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band is also the subject of a recent documentary, titled Family Band: The Cowsills Story. Today, almost 50 years after the band cut its first single, The Cowsills still tour and perform together (although brother Barry died during the Katrina hurricane and brother Bill passed away at the same time from illnesses in Canada), and their harmonies remain as infectious and bright as ever.

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July 27, 2011
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