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DNA match confirms Barry Cowsill (The Cowsills) is dead (didn't survive Katrina) ^

Posted on 01/05/2006 7:18:17 AM PST by lunarbicep

We are deeply saddened to report that a DNA match has been found for Barry in Baton Rouge, LA. Unfortunately, this means with a 99% certainty that Barry has passed away. The Cowsill family was just informed of the match and more information will be available on the site as it becomes available.

TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: cowsills; katrina; music
more information & memorial book
1 posted on 01/05/2006 7:18:21 AM PST by lunarbicep
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To: lunarbicep

The Cowsills got ripped off by The Partridge Family who got most of the fame and a TV show.

2 posted on 01/05/2006 7:21:20 AM PST by Semper Paratus
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To: Semper Paratus
Another fond memory from my youth gone. RIP

3 posted on 01/05/2006 7:27:59 AM PST by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it)
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To: Semper Paratus

A talented man whose life was wasted with booze and manic depression:

A musical life falls into silence
By James J. Gillis/Daily News staff
Barry Cowsill wanted to be a rock star and he ended up a pop star.

And the difference in those two small words became huge.

"He never wanted his legacy to be the Cowsills," his brother, Bob, said recently. "It ate at him and ate at him. He could never get over it."

When David Letterman made a couple of offhand references to the Cowsills, Bob Cowsill saw it as a badge of honor. "But Barry took it to heart," his brother said. "He said, 'Why do they have to keep making fun of us?'"

Barry Cowsill, 51, has been unheard from since Sept. 2, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, to which he moved from Newport last summer. Family members launched a media blitz and sister Susan went to her brother's New Orleans apartment and hangouts in hopes of finding him.

As friends and family become reflective about Barry Cowsill's sometimes-turbulent life, they make sure to discuss him in the present tense. But from these discussions, some consistent themes emerge: He often resented the poppy Cowsills, the inspiration for "The Partridge Family" TV show; he loved his children above all; and he is a bright, sensitive guy - a musical talent given to self-doubt, outlandish behavior and too much drinking.

As longtime buddy A.J. Wachtel put it: "Barry is a very complex personality."


The Cowsills, a Newport-based family band, landed four songs in the Billboard Top 40 between 1967-70. For a time, Barry Cowsill was a teen idol, with photos in magazines such as Tiger Beat and 16.

"Barry and (brother) John were big with the girls," recalled Bob Cowsill, 56. "You see the pictures and the videos; they were so cute. They were the most popular with the younger teenage girls. And Barry and John could play bass and drums like you wouldn't believe. Barry had everything. And he is still very charming."

Their run as teenage idols ended when the boys grew older and the family's records stopped selling. As far as show business saw it, Barry Cowsill and his brothers were has-beens. Barry was 15.

"I think he kind of put on that devil-may-care attitude a lot of the time," said friend Mike Warner, a local musician. "He definitely has some issues. And it's probably from his upbringing, being a child star. I don't think that was easy for him."

The Cowsills emerged in the mid-1960s as four brothers in a Beatles-flavored group. Bob and Bill played guitars and sang, Barry played bass and sang and John played drums. They found gigs at college parties and Newport venues such as the MK Hotel.

The quartet released early singles that went nowhere. But then, in 1967, they recorded the hit "The Rain, The Park and Other Things," a Beach Boys-flavored tune of a dreamy encounter with a flower girl. MGM signed the brothers and then reconfigured the group's lineup. Mother Barbara soon sang backup vocals and young siblings Susan and Paul were added.

Light, sunny and vocally flawless hits, including "Indian Lake" and the Broadway musical title tune "Hair," and numerous TV appearances followed before the group - and family - split in the early 1970s.

"It didn't become the Beatles," Bob Cowsill said. "It became the Partridge Family. Barry wanted to be a serious, serious musician. But when they added Mom and Susan, it completely changed. Barry never really got over it."

Journalist/musician friend Wachtel, who lives in Wollaston, Mass., met Barry Cowsill in the early 1980s in Boston, playing together in bands such as Blind Lemon Pledge and the Allston Brothers. Barry shed the teeny-bopper image by taking on aliases, before eventually playing Cowsill reunion shows.

"For a while, he used Elvis Franklin or Barry Scott or other names," Wacthel said. "He didn't really want to play that stuff. But eventually he said, 'What the hell?' He loved his brothers and sisters and decided to do it."

Susan Cowsill, 45, who has remained close to Barry, believes her brother might have made too much of the childhood-fame stigma. "Sometimes I think he kind of locked himself into that position," she said. "I have the same last name that he has and I still have a career. But I know he felt that way. He can be a bit on the paranoid side."


For three years, the Cowsills were America's family band, with appearances on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Tonight Show" and a nationwide campaign to promote milk. "You look at the videos now and it was a good-looking family with so much talent," Bob Cowsill said.

But Bill and Barry, according to Bob, believed their father, William "Bud" Cowsill, and the band's management hijacked the original Cowsills concept.

Bud Cowsill, by family accounts, was a tough character - dictatorial and verbally and physically abusive. "I was able to make peace with dad before he died (in 1992)," Susan Cowsill said. "But you can't overlook abuse. That's not cool. He was never quite remorseful enough for my liking, but what can you do?

"I think he and Barry were a lot alike. They were as thick as thieves by the end."

When the band split, the family fractured. The Cowsills had moved from Newport to Southern California, but when things fizzled, the parents and younger kids, including Barry, returned to Rhode Island, for a time anyway.

Richard - who said Bud barred him from the band but who sung in later versions of the group - went to Vietnam. The original quartet tried a California-based version of the Cowsills with its "Covered Wagon" album, which the brothers liked but the public ignored.

And in their warp-speed rise and fall, the Cowsills ended up all but broke, with only a couple thousand dollars in their trust funds. Family members pointed fingers at Bud Cowsill and their handlers. They went their separate ways.

Bob Cowsill, who works in the medical field outside Los Angeles and still plays music, got married young, had two kids - he has since remarried and has a total of five children - and went from visiting with Ed Sullivan to sweeping up at a car dealership in Glendale, Calif.

"I was 22 and married with two kids," he said. "And I had a tax debt."

Barry Cowsill worked construction and waited tables in a Los Angeles restaurant. It was nothing for him to disappear, but someone usually knew where or how to find him.

In Los Angeles in the 1970s, Barry hung out with people like Warren Zevon. "But he never felt like he was good enough to play with them," Susan Cowsill said. "And he certainly was."

Barry Cowsill has since lived a nomadic existence, bouncing across the country, from California to Boston to New Orleans to Newport and most recently back to New Orleans.

Along the way, he also started his own family. He was married to Deborah Cowsill from 1987 to 2003 and had two children, Keira, 17, and Collin, 15, with her. He has an older daughter, Carrie, in Houston, plus two grandchildren.

The Cowsills, with varying lineups, have played several reunion shows in Newport since an appearance in 1991 at the Newport Marriott. Barry played keyboards at that show, dressed in a trademark fedora and a vintage three-piece suit, but billed himself as Elvis Franklin.

In 2002, Barry relocated to Newport, setting up shop musically at Billy Goode's on Marlborough Street and taking on construction work. He hooked with veterans such as bassist Thom Enright and Warner.

Kevan Campbell, Billy Goode's owner, said Cowsill soon stood out. "I think some of the quasi-rock stars who come in here looked down on him at first," Campbell said. "But he could play with anyone. He was absolutely phenomenal. I think he was truly happy only when he was playing music. I know that's a cliché, but it's true.

"When he wasn't drinking, he could do anything when it came to music."

Ex-wife Deborah Cowsill said Barry was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a mental illness often called manic depression. Drinking brings out his self-destructive bent, according to family and friends. "Barry went down that Hank Williams trail," Bob Cowsill said.

Barry Cowsill has gone the rehab route before. And he was allegedly ready to try again. On Aug. 28, he was scheduled to fly from New Orleans to Los Angeles to enter a facility near brother Bob's home.

Katrina hit Aug. 29 with Barry stuck in a warehouse. He left his sister a voicemail Sept. 2, saying he was in the midst of "a lot of 'lootin' and a lot of shootin'" and wanted help. He never called back.

Susan Cowsill, a New Orleans resident, said her brother was in crisis mode by late summer. "He was ready - I'll say the word desperate - to clean up and change his life."

New Orleans, Bob Cowsill said, can be a scary place for someone trying to get sober. "When I heard he went to New Orleans, that was not good news for us," he said.


During his last months in Newport, Barry Cowsill drew plenty of non-musical attention. Last February, he was summonsed to District Court on a charge of making harassing phone calls to former U.S. Rep. Fernand St Germain. St Germain's daughter, Lisette, and Barry had ended a relationship months earlier.

Cowsill pleaded not guilty and a judge filed the case, meaning it would be removed from his record after one year, provided he didn't get into any more trouble. He also was ordered to perform 10 hours of community service, which friends said involved playing concerts.

The story involved two well-known Rhode Island names, bringing Barry a splash of notoriety. Those who know him, though, blame drunken foolishness.

"Alcohol can be the difference between settling problems in your life and doing nothing at all," said Bob Cowsill. "Barry avoids dealing with things through alcohol."

Said Campbell, "That whole business with St Germain, that was just him leaving stupid stuff on a voicemail, just being Barry."

But Barry being Barry sometimes rubbed people the wrong way.

During a tribute concert last April at Billy Goode's for singer Jody Gibson, weeks before Gibson's death, Cowsill annoyed people by singing too loudly and improvising obnoxious lyrics. Amid audience grumbling, musicians Jon Campbell and Otis Read nudged him out the door.

Friends agree that Barry, all at once, can be enigmatic, charming, kind and infuriating - a seemingly free-spirited teenager in a man's body.

"I had some ups and downs with Barry, nothing we couldn't resolve, but he's a good person," Warner said. "He even lived with us (Warner and wife Barbara have two young daughters) a couple of different times. When my kids were born, Barry was one of the first people to visit the hospital, bringing a toy. It's hard to stay mad at him."

In the two months since he vanished, theories abound: He went underground; he's in a disoriented manic state, hooked up with some old hippies; or, worse, dead.

But could he stroll into Billy Goode's some night and shrug off all the fuss? Sure, friends say.

But as weeks go by, and Katrina falls from the headlines, the mood grows dark.

Bob Cowsill is preparing to supply a DNA sample to see if it connects to one of the 1,000 or so unidentified bodies housed in a New Orleans morgue.

"There have been years when we didn't hear much from Barry, but that kind of changed," said Bob. "He was coming around. When he'd call one of us, he'd call all of us. If only he would call now."

4 posted on 01/05/2006 7:33:41 AM PST by robowombat
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RIP Barry

Gimme head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair
Let it fly in the breeze
And get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair
A home for fleas
A hive for bees
A nest for birds
There ain't no words
For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
Of my...
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair
I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy
Shining, gleaming, streaming
Flaxen, waxen
Knotted, polkadotted
Twisted, beaded, braided
Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled, and spaghettied!
Ooh say can you see
My eyes if you can
Then my hair's too short
Down to here
Down to there
Down to where
Down to where
It stops by itself
They'll be ga ga at the go go
When they see me in my toga
My toga made of blond
Biblical hair
My hair like Jesus wore it
Hallelujah I adore it
Hallelujah Mary loved her son
Why don't my mother love me?
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair
Flow it, show it
Long as God can grow it
My hair
Can grow my hair
Can grow my hair

5 posted on 01/05/2006 7:36:22 AM PST by Freebird Forever (If they're truly public servants, why do they live in the mansions?)
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To: lunarbicep
The Cowsills figure prominently in a very important event in my first true love....November 1967.Can't hear that song without thinking of Chris and Ft Lauderdale.

It's sad to hear about Barry's death.May he rest in peace.

6 posted on 01/05/2006 7:38:12 AM PST by Gay State Conservative
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To: lunarbicep
On Aug. 28, he was scheduled to fly from New Orleans to Los Angeles to enter a facility near brother Bob's home. Katrina hit Aug. 29 with Barry stuck in a warehouse.

If he was scheduled to fly out on August 28, why was he still in New Orleans on the 29th?
7 posted on 01/05/2006 7:40:48 AM PST by Xenalyte (Can you count, suckas? I say the future is ours . . . if you can count.)
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To: Freebird Forever

One of my all-time favorite songs:

The Rain, The Park, and Other Things

I saw her sitting in the rain,
raindrops falling on her.
She didn't seem to care.
She sat there and smiled at me.

And I knew (I knew, I knew, I knew, I knew)
she could make me happy (happy, happy).
Flowers in her hair, flowers everywhere.

I love the flower girl, oh, I don't know just why.
She simply caught my eye.
I love the flower girl, she seemed so sweet and kind.
She crept into my mind.

Suddenly the sun broke through (see the sun).
I turned around she was gone (where did she go).
And all I had left was one little flower from her hair.

But I knew (I knew, I knew, I knew, I knew)
she had made me happy (happy, happy).
Flowers in her hair, flowers everywhere.

8 posted on 01/05/2006 7:49:45 AM PST by Kjobs (Murtha IS A COWARD!! Go Jean Schmidt!)
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To: Xenalyte


"When he wasn't drinking, he could do anything when it came to music."

Ex-wife Deborah Cowsill said Barry was diagnosed with bipolar disorder,...

9 posted on 01/05/2006 8:11:37 AM PST by Wally_Kalbacken
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To: Puppage

I remember being so in love with this guy in my early teen years. He was the cutest of cutest...he was one of my teen heart-throbs...way back when life was so simple, so innocent. Sad to hear this news.

10 posted on 01/05/2006 8:21:21 AM PST by nfldgirl ("I love a good rant every now-n-then!")
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To: Xenalyte

If I remember right, they had already closed the airport.

11 posted on 01/05/2006 8:32:17 AM PST by Knitting A Conundrum (Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly With God Micah 6:8)
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To: Mean Maryjean
way back when life was so simple, so innocent

And, the only thing we had to worry about was get'n home in time for dinner.

12 posted on 01/05/2006 8:39:42 AM PST by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it)
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