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Ok it appears that you need a password to access the story in the Calgary Herald, so here's the cut and paste.


Cowsill mourns brother's death

By: Heath McCoy, Calgary Herald; with files from the Associated Press

Billy Cowsill, a giant of the Calgary music scene, is grieving after learning this week that his brother and former bandmate died in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

The body of Barry Cowsill, 51, was found Dec. 28 on a New Orleans wharf, four months after he disappeared following the August hurricane. His remains were confirmed by dental records this week.

Barry was a former member of The Cowsills, a family pop band from Rhode Island that achieved international fame in the late '60s with such hits as "The Rain, The Park, & Other Things" as well as the title song from the rock musical Hair.

"He was just a sweetheart and I loved him dearly," a sombre, softspoken Billy, 57, said Friday when contacted at his Calgary home.

A teen heartthrob in his day, Barry Cowsill was the band's bass player, while Billy was the guitarist and frontman. Brothers Bob and John played organ and drums, respectively. Their mother Barbara and younger sister Susan also joined the band eventually, under the direction of father Bud Cowsill.

The Cowsills, who provided the inspiration for TV's The Partridge Family, eventually broke up in the early '70s amid acrimony that left some members estranged from each other for several years.

Both Billy and Barry lived through tumultuous times after the breakup of The Cowsills, hitting landmines typical of the rock world, including struggles with substance abuse.

By the 1980s, Billy wound up in Vancouver, fronting the acclaimed Blue Shadows, who were often compared to the Everly Brothers. Billy once described the band as "three vegetarians and a junkie." Eventually, Billy beat his addictions and he settled in Calgary in the late '90s. Here he formed The Co-Dependents, a band much loved on the city's thriving roots music scene. In recent years The Co-Dependents disbanded in the wake of Billy's health problems, which include emphysema and osteoporosis. Nevertheless, in Calgary Billy found a balance that his brother Barry never quite achieved.

"No, he never did (get grounded)," says Billy. "He drank himself silly."

Indeed, Barry led a self-destructive existence after The Cowsills' breakup, bouncing across the country working odd jobs and periodically trying to reignite his music career. Along the way he was married, divorced and had three children. He struggled with alcoholism.

The day hurricane Katrina struck, Barry was preparing for a trip to a Los Angeles rehab centre and had a one-way ticket to fly out of New Orleans the next day, says Billy.

For months after Katrina, the Cowsill family held out hope that their wayward brother would turn up alive. Three days after the hurricane struck, Barry left messages on his sister Susan's answering machine.

"Things were bad when he called, in terms of the lawlessness (following the hurricane)," said Bob Cowsill from his California home. "He was trying to survive day by day like everyone else and he was very distressed. He said there was a lot of 'lootin' and shootin' going on down there and it was real scary. He was lonely and crying. He was in a bad way. . . . He said he was going to try and call us back. But he never did."

At press time, Bob said the coroner had not determined the cause of Barry's death. But because his phone call made it clear that he survived the hurricane, the Cowsill family are left wondering if there was foul play involved.

"If he was trying to survive, looking for food, and he came up against someone who wanted the same food, and somebody had a gun. . . . Who knows?" says Bob.

Bob says plans are underway for Barry's funeral, which will be held in the Cowsill family's home in Newport, R. I. A date has not been set.



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Thanks for that, Marvin. Really a sad story, because until he died, very few people likely knew of Barry Cowsill's plight.

You know, so many groups and individuals in pop and rock music have ended up having tough times and losing their way over the years.... Think of Elvis and Hendrix and Joplin and Badfinger and Dennis Wilson and Cobain and Hutchence and many others -- even our pal Brian Wilson, who lost a lot of potentially great music-making years before, fortunately, getting his act together again. There are too many superstars and countless obscure artists who couldn't deal with the pressures and ended up getting lost in depression and/or drugs and/or alcohol.... It's gotta be a hard life.

All of this is reason enough to be thankful that each of the Raspberries has stayed grounded, kept their heads on straight, and managed to avoid the bad trappings of life as a musician. Makes it even easier to admire EC, Wally, Jim, and Dave as well as Scott, and Mike, don't you think? Here's to many more years of making music....

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Anyway, between this news and Lou Rawls and, of course, the coal mining tragedy in WVirginia, man, 2006 is off to a rocky start.

and that's not mentioning the most tragic musical loss so far, which was lead singer of House Of Freaks Bryan Harvey who, along with his wife and kids, was brutally murdered in Richmond VA on New Years Day....

not to take anything away from Barry Cowsill, but Bryan was the musical force behind a very cool original duo (sorta Americana folk/rock) and deserves at least as much recognition as one of the less integral members of our beloved Cowsills...

House of Freaks' hit their peak between 1989 and 1991 with "Tantilla" and "Cakewalk"-- Harvey had a very distinct Lennon-esque voice and wrote some incredible gems along the way (i.e. "40 Years," "Never" "Broken Bones")...

for more about the disturbing news check out this link:


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  • 1 month later...

Not to bring up a downer of a story, but in case anyone missed it, police arrested two suspects in the killing of House of Freaks' Bryan Harvey and his family. Here's an AP report:


And the Richmond Times-Dispatch has very thorough coverage of the whole, sickening ordeal here:


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The Cowsills CD (and frankly, the ONLY one) to get is "Global", which they made in the 90's. It's eons removed from their 60's/70's cornball schtick....great melodic power pop. It's almost impossible to find, though.

BTW, Susan C's solo CD which just came out is also quite good.

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In case you missed it, Ann Curry profiled the Richmond murders on NBC's Dateline 1/29/06. The episode is probably being re-run on MSNBC and Court TV channels. It was interesting to see the progression of the investigation and the ordeal that his bandmate went through as he was being considered the prime suspect until the real killers were identified.

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