When Billy Cowsill died in February 2006, his obituary was published in The New York Times. The story described him as the leader of a family pop band that inspired The Partridge Family series on television.
Billy likely would have had mixed feelings about that. If his family band, the Cowsills, had starred in that TV show – as was the original intent of the producers – Billy would have become as famous as David Cassidy. However, his father refused to have anything to do with the show when the producers said they wanted to have actress Shirley Jones playing the mother. The Cowsills were out and a group of actors that also included Susan Dey and Danny Bonaduce were in.
The Cowsills broke up shortly after that. That gave Billy an opportunity to start playing the music he really wanted to play. Instead of continuing to dispense the sweet and schmaltzy sound identified with the Cowsills, he explored the roots of rock ‘n’ roll, infused the tunes with a country flavour, and made his own distinctive way in the musical world.
Billy is one of the featured characters in my new book, Rogues and Rebels: Unforgettable Characters from Canada’s West. He’s also the subject of the interview I did today with Chris dela Torre, the host of CBC Radio’s Daybreak Alberta. You can hear that interview by clicking HERE. It ends with a lovely performance of an original country song, Vagabond, which Billy wrote and recorded in 1981 with the Vancouver band, Blue Northern. Check it out!Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 Brian Brennan - Writer