The Cowsills Release ‘Hair’ Update, Recording New Album

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The Cowsills receive their gold record for “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” from MGM Records President Mort Nasatir, 1967. (Photo from Wikipedia)

It’s been more than two decades since The Cowsills—the family group that started in the ’60s—recorded a new studio album, although three core members—Bob, Paul and Susan Cowsill—still tour regularly (see itinerary below). Now, the group is working on a new album, and in the meantime they’ve recorded a new, a cappella version in 2019 of their huge hit “Hair.”

During a recent recording session, the trio decided to have some fun with the song, which they originally released 50 years earlier. The new “Hair” features no instruments, only Bob, Paul and Susan’s voices. Listen to it below.

Here’s the back story on the new version:

The song holds a special place in the Cowsills’ history.  Even in the heady days of the mid-’60s, they were unique: a band originally formed by four teenage (and younger) brothers, soon joined by their kid sister as well as their mom. Their first hits, “The Rain, the Park & Other Things,” “We Can Fly” and “Indian Lake,” represented ’60s sunshine pop at its most joyful, as did their famous musical ads for the American Dairy Association. And yes, the group inspired the idea for the Partridge Family.

Watch the Cowsills perform “Hair” in 1969

But when “Hair” topped the charts in early 1969, it showed there was more to this wholesome family band than met the eye. The Cowsills gave a friendly wink to the hippie world, covering the theme from Hair, a musical that was revolutionizing Broadway—and remember, the Grateful Dead had never been mentioned in a hit single before, much less had one themselves.

Arranged and produced by oldest brothers Bill and Bob, “Hair” was the first Cowsills hit to be played entirely by the group (and to give eight-year-old Susan a memorable vocal cameo, on the line about spaghetti). Since AM radio was a little sensitive in those days, they left out the original song’s line about wearing your hair like Jesus—but they’ve sung it with that lyric ever since, and it’s loud and clear in the new version.

Related: What were the top radio hits of 1969?

The Cowsills in 2019

That was the last Cowsills hit for a long while, but history took a few surprise turns. A reunion album got shelved in the ’80s, when their producer got called away by Bruce Springsteen. But the group reappeared in the early ’90s, now with Bob, Paul, John and Susan. Largely skipping the oldies in favor of brand-new tunes, they charmed the clubs during the height of the grunge era—ultimately releasing the self-produced album Global, now recognized as an underground classic of power pop. The Cowsills stuck together as families do, when Susan joined the roots-rock supergroup the Continental Drifters and later blossomed as a solo artist. John wound up taking the drum chair in another family-led group of some renown, the Beach Boys.

As time went on they attracted new fans who’d missed them the first time around. They lived through some sad times with the deaths of brother Barry during Hurricane Katrina, Bill shortly afterward, and Richard in 2014. The documentary The Cowsills: A Family Band premiered in 2011 and became a surprise hit on Showtime. It told the family’s story with unflinching honesty—not glossing over the darker parts, but ultimately celebrating their spirit and their music.  And the music has gone on with Bob, Paul and Susan and an expanding cast of friends and relations. In recent years they’ve been fixtures on the all-star ’60s/’70s-themed Happy Together Tour, also doing their own headline shows when time allows.

Listen to the new a cappella remake of “Hair”

Best Classic Bands Staff

4 Comments so far

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  1. Dino
    #1 Dino 8 June, 2018, 01:36

    The Cowsills on tour again and what a tour but no mention of the UK. Im sure they would be a massive draw with the fans over here.

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  2. Billy K.
    #2 Billy K. 9 June, 2018, 18:30

    They mentioned pledges for money, understandably….but. what about the songs?? Have they written enough new material……….or will they welcome song contributions from fans?

    Reply this comment
    • Dan Zee
      Dan Zee 27 January, 2020, 17:09

      You can email them through their website. Just saw them last night. They played 2 new songs from fheir new album will have more.

      Reply this comment
  3. Jim
    #3 Jim 24 September, 2019, 20:02

    They were the first concert I ever went to I was in sixth or 7th grade

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