Submitted by guitar-list on
Barry Cowsill was born September 14, 1954 in Newport, RI, USA. The fifth of seven children, Barry soon became the drummer (and later the bass player) of his brothers' band, playing popular tunes at local dance clubs. In the late 1960's, this band expanded to include two more brothers, a sister, and their mother, and The Cowsills went on to churn out a string of hits (including the #2's "The Rain the Park and Other Things" and "Hair") before officially disbanding in 1971.
Although he participated in several post-heyday incarnaions of the family group, Cowsill lived the rest of his life a nomad. The trauma from his childhood (domestic abuse, extreme adulation and overexposure, sudden loss of fame) affected this sensitive soul deeply, and led to substance abuse issues, mental disturbances, and suicide attempts. He performed under various pseudonyms, moving from city to city, spending much of his time in New Orleans. He recorded an acclaimed (and presently out-of-print) solo album in 1998, titled As Is.
In the years leading up to his death, Barry lived in Newport, RI and then settled in New Orleans, playing in bars and local venues, and recording new material with a group he called US1. He reconnected with family and fans and was reportedly attempting to become sober when Hurricane Katrina hit the city in August 2005. Cowsill was heard leaving messages on his sister Susan's voicemail in the days following the hurricane, but was not heard from after September 1. In January 2006, after a months-long tireless search that included fans as well as family, a body was found washed up at a wharf in New Orleans and subsequently identified to be Cowsill. His death was ruled a drowning as a result of floodwaters from the hurricane.
Plans to release the US1 material posthumously are reportedly underway. Read more about Barry Cowsill on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.