The Cowsills for Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Selection Committee
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1. Longevity - The Cowsills' first record, "All I Really Want To Be Is Me," was recorded in 1965. Including their most recent live performance at the 2004 TV Land Awards Show, The Cowsills have remained active in the music industry for 40 years as performers, recording artists, songwriters, and producers. Cowsill recordings can be heard on over 250 compilations released from 19672004.
2. Contribution to Rock and Roll - The Cowsills made their mark as self-taught musicians in a variety of rock forms ranging from folk to country to hard rock. The Cowsills helped transformed rock music into a more mainstream style which made it appealing to multiple generations. Additionally, members of The Cowsill family have made contributions to at least 123 other artists' projects.
3. Contribution to the Evolution of Rock Music - The Cowsills were the first of the rock family groups, preceding Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members The Jackson Five. With Billy Cowsill in the forefront of the evolution of country-rock, Bob Cowsill out front with power pop, and Susan Cowsill's involvement in roots rock, The Cowsills have remained motivated to let their music grow and change.
4. Development of the Art Form - Billy Cowsill's songwriting and producing blending country and rock, John Cowsill's work with young people, and Susan Cowsill's participation in songwriters panels are all examples of how The Cowsills have worked to promote rock music and ensure its future. The Cowsills, as a whole, also contributed to the country-rock development movement. Quoting Universals 20th Century Masters Millennium Collection The Best of The Cowsills liner notes: "Bob 'Waddy' Wachtel was a big proponent of the California country-rock sound. But his production of their version of Silver Threads And Golden Needles was just a few years ahead of the curve." The Cowsills were in sync with the rock music culture born in the 1960s. As rock music took a lead in social, cultural, and political revolution, The Cowsills demonstrated a strong social conscience through their music. Recordings of "The Cruel War" drew attention to the personal side of an unpopular war, while "A Most Peculiar Man" spoke of the mentally challenged. Their original music further revealed a sense of social responsibility and compassion. "Newspaper Blanket" depicted the plight of the homeless before "homeless" was a household word; "Beautiful Beige" was aimed at soothing the racial unrest of that era; and "Cocaine Drain" enlightened listeners about the destruction of a soul by drugs.
5. Perpetuation of Rock Music The Cowsills has remained a valid force throughout the years. Having been influenced artistically by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Everly Brothers, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Roy Orbison, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Fleetwood Mac and others, The Cowsills were named U.S. representatives to the Italys 1968 San Remo Music Festival. Their success and popularity inspired the creation of The Partridge Family, a top TV show (that is still being shown today), which launched the careers of David Cassidy, Susan Dey, and Danny Bonaduce. Billy Cowsill helped The Osmonds break new ground in the recording studio. The Cowsills have been involved in international efforts, including Susan Cowsill being signed by Germanys Blue Rose Records; their Japanese release, "Covered Wagon," becoming a hit in that country; John Cowsill being part of the first rock band to tour the Republic of China; and their recording of three songs in Italian which can still be heard on Italian radio in 2004. "Hair" was the #1 song in South Africa in 1969, and an Australian Cowsills EP shows "Hair" as a #2 on the charts there. Also, "The Rain, The Park and Other Things" charted as a #3 hit. Cowsill family members have participated in musical tribute projects, including those honoring The Beatles, The Bee Gees, Joni Mitchell, Gene Pitney, The Hollies, and Gram Parsons. The family members also remain active in music festivals across North American by lending their musical abilities to forums such as Californias 1989 Monterey Pop Festival, New Orleans Jazz Fest, the Taste of Rhode Island Festival, and the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, Canada. The Cowsills continue to perpetuate the music of Hall of Fame members by performing covers of their material in their live shows, both collectively and individually. The Cowsills' original music of the 1990s has been described as "reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac" and "The Byrds twelve years later," exemplifications of the Cowsills' perpetuation of specific artists' stylings.
6. Influence - A wide-range of performers and musicians have been influenced by The Cowsills' musical style. These include Captain Sensible of the hard rock band, The Damned; classic rock's Optimal Impact; country's The Shackshakers; and pop's Osmonds. The Cowsills have been cited as the influence for other rock/art professions, such as DJs, artists, and music teachers. Cowsill songs have been recorded by a wide range of artists including Hall of Famer Bob Marley, Britain's The Californians, The Bangles, and Hootie and the Blowfish.
The Cowsills have also influenced pop culture. They were chosen as the original celebrities wearing the now familiar milk mustaches; they are referenced in trivia questions in both TV game shows and board games; they inspired a hit TV show; and they are mentioned in numerous published books (fiction and non-fiction). In 1969, The Cowsills were the first rock group to record a theme for a television show, "Love American Style"; their music can be heard in movies from The Impossible Years to Dumb and Dumber and in TV shows from The Wonder Years to The Simpsons; and they have been mentioned as a part of David Letterman's Top Ten.
7. Other Distinctions - The Cowsill band's true worth was first illustrated by the fact that they were initially discovered by Johnny Nash's all-black R&B label, JODA. During that time, they were asked to headline with future Hall of Famers Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder before they had their first hit record. Susan Cowsill, at the age of eight, was the youngest female to ever have a Top 10 hit. The Cowsills were the first to be awarded a million-dollar celebrity endorsement contract (from the American Dairy Association). The Cowsills were the first family rock group which included their mother to have recordings reach the top of the charts, members of the group were songwriters and producers at an early age, they were the first group to include a studio track on a live album, and the first American act signed to London Records. The Cowsills were awarded more gold records than 100 of the current Performers Category inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Their recording "Hair" was banned from Armed Services radio in Viet Nam for being too controversial. The Cowsills continue to have an active fan club which includes multi-generational fans from all 50 states and six continents. They have never participated in oldies tours, choosing rather to stay current and evolve musically. The Cowsills are one of only five rock groups to have album covers designed by famous cartoonist Jack Davis. Some band members were Grammy presenters while still in grade school. Brett Milano, Boston Phoenix, stated on February 5, 1993: "So here we have a 60s bubblegum act (albeit a pretty cool one) coming back to life as a modern pop band, more than 20 years later; and most of them are still younger than the Ramones. In the entire history of rock and roll, nothing like this has ever happened." The Cowsills manage their own record label carrying the slogan "dedicated to bringing the sounds of power-pop music to the world," they have a host of famous fans, have memorabilia included in several university collections, and they have had an official Web site since 1998.
8. Connections to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Members - Members of The Cowsills have worked with The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Jackson Browne, Ike Turner, Dave Mason, The Mamas and Papas, Tom Petty, and Heartbreakers, Howie Epstein and Benmont Tench. The Cowsills headlined with Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder at Soundblast 66 and with Wilson Pickett at Fun Fair 69. They have recorded songs by Gerry Goffin and Carole King; Holland, Dozier and Holland; Eric Clapton; and The Beatles.
9. Work with Other Great Recording Artists and Producers (including but not limited to) - Jan & Dean, Hootie and the Blowfish, Woodstock founder Artie Kornfeld, Bruce Springsteen producer Chuck Plotkin, Harry Chapin, The Bangles, Kim Carnes, Gary Lewis, Eddy Arnold, Harry Nilsson, J. J. Cale, Dwight Twilley, Redd Kross, The Smithereens.
10. Awards - The Cowsills earned three gold records: "The Rain, the Park and Other Things" (1967), "Indian Lake" (1968), and "Hair" (1969); were voted 16 Magazine's Best Group of 1970; and won the Best Unsigned Band Award at the 1992 L.A. Music Awards. Billy Cowsill's group, The Blue Shadows, earned a Juno Award (Canada's Grammy Award) nomination in 1993 for Country Group of the Year, and also in Canada, Billy received a Prairie Music Award nomination for Best Producer in two consecutive years (2001 and 2002). In 1995, New Orleans' OffBeat Magazines Best of the Beat Awards winner for Rock Eclectic Vocalist (tie) was Susan Cowsill and Best Band Runner Up was The Continental Drifters, a roots rock band of which Susan was a member. The Continental Drifters also won OffBeat's awards for Best Album of 1999 and Best Rock Band 2000.
11. Charity Work - The Cowsills have given charity performances benefiting schools, AIDS, Autism, musician medical funds, wildlife and wetlands projects, burn units in Honduras, March of Dimes, Easter Seals, police funds, classroom music programs, hospitals, and political fundraisers.