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“Sunshine pop never sounded so sweet.”
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The real-life inspiration behind the hit television series The Partridge Family, the Cowsills -- teen siblings Bill, Bob, Barry, John, Susan, and Paul in tandem with mom Barbara -- were one of the biggest pop acts of the late '60s, scoring a series of hits including "The Rain, the Park and Other Things" and "Hair," distinguished by their angelic harmonies and sun-kissed melodies. The group's origins lie with Bill and Bob, who as children began their singing careers covering Everly Brothers hits. Given guitars by their father, Navy man William "Bud" Cowsill, the siblings soon recruited younger brothers Barry and John to play bass and drums, respectively, and as Beatlemania dawned, the teen foursome began performing live at school dances and church socials throughout their native Newport, RI. Soon the Cowsills landed a regular weekend gig at the local club Bannisters Wharf, and in 1967 recorded the single "All I Really Wanta Be Is Me" for the Joda label; the record generated little response, however, and after an appearance on NBC's The Today Show the group signed to Mercury, issuing three more singles to negligible interest.

Mercury producer Artie Kornfeld remained convinced of the Cowsills' commercial appeal, however, and independent of the label set up another recording date; this time, however, he convinced their mother, Barbara, to contribute vocals to the session, which yielded the stunning "The Rain, the Park and Other Things." With their wholesome family image a ...

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