Readers, hello and welcome back for entry number 41 at the “Church of Christ Celebrities” blog! Two weeks ago, we celebrated the release of my book (more on that below) with a look into the potential connections between famed actor Powers Boothe and Churches of Christ. Today, we’ll return to the music world (where the blog began when it restarted back in July) with a brief investigation into the religious affiliations of the members of the 1960s family band The Cowsills. You may not know the band’s name, but you’ve almost certainly heard their music, even if you can’t quite place it at first.
Before we get to that, though, a quick word about the book, Visions of Restoration: The History of Churches of Christ, which is available now through Cypress Publications/Heritage Christian University Press. Copies retail for $12.99 each, and the book is perfect for adult Bible classes, small group studies, or for personal reading. Thanks to those who have already gotten a copy during the first two weeks of its release!
Now, back to the blog…
The Cowsills are a long-running group composed (at various times) of some assortment of siblings Bill, Bob, Barry, John, Susan, Paul, and Richard Cowsill, as well as their mother, Barbara. Getting their start in the 1960s, the band achieved its greatest successes with “The Rain, The Park & Other Things” and their cover of “Hair,” the latter song coming from the musical of the same name. The group also served as a primary inspiration for the 1970s Partridge Family TV show, which, of course, focused on a fictional band made up of a mother and her children.
Although I had not previously known of any connections between the band’s members and Churches of Christ, a reader of the blog suggested them as a potential topic a while back, having heard that the family was linked in some way to the fellowship. However, in the course of my research, I was unable to find any such ties. The closest I came was with regards to band member Bill’s 1968 wedding, which, one magazine asserted, took place at the “Broadway Church of Christ” in New York City. (1) Another brief note from the New York Daily News, though, clarified that the congregation was actually the Broadway United Church of Christ. The UCOC, despite some loose historical ties to the Stone-Campbell Movement dating back to the nineteenth century, is a wholly separate organization today. (2)
Unfortunately, I was unable to find anything more conclusive, so while I could not proactively establish a link between the band and the fellowship, I could not exactly disprove it, either. We’ll have to leave it in a state of ambiguity for now, though perhaps readers may be able to fill in the gaps. If you can, or if you have suggestions for future topics, please let me know!
Rather than end on a sour note, I do want to make one strange connection before we close. “The Rain, The Park & Other Things,” which (as noted above) was one of the band’s biggest hits back in the late 1960s, experienced a bit of a revival when it was used in the 1994 movie Dumb and Dumber. I’ll include a Youtube link here to the song, as well as one to the Cowsills’ version of “Hair.” Enjoy, see if you recognize either of the tunes, and check back in again in two weeks for our next entry!
(1) “Come to a Cowsill Wedding,” Teen Life Magazine, October 1968, archived at bapresley.com/silverthreads/history/magazine/cometo.html.
(2) “Doing A Duet,” New York Daily News, June 10, 1968, archived at bapresley.com/silverthreads/history/newspapers/billkaren.html.