Cowsill at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles
|Birth name||Barry Steven Cowsill|
September 14, 1954|
Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.
|Died||c. August 29, 2005 (aged 50)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, producer|
|Instruments||Vocalist, keyboards, drums, bass, guitar|
|Associated acts||The Cowsills|
Cowsill was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the fifth of seven children. As a teenager, he became the drummer (and later the bass guitar player) of the band initially formed by his brothers Bill and Bob Cowsill, playing popular tunes at local dance clubs. By the late 1960s, the band expanded to include younger brother John (on drums), his mother Barbara, older brother Paul, and younger sister Susan. 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 by 1972.
After the group broke up, Cowsill moved frequently and worked various jobs including construction and waiting tables. For a time, Cowsill owned a bar in Austin which he admitted he lost because he "drank it dry. I was drinking my face off in those days." Throughout his life, Cowsills continued to play music and participated in various post-heyday incarnations of the Cowsills. In 1998, he released his first solo CD, As Is. In 2002, he relocated to his hometown of Newport, Rhode Island. In 2005, Cowsill relocated again to New Orleans. Shortly before his death, he made plans to enter a Los Angeles rehab facility to seek help for his alcoholism. His flight was scheduled for August 28. Those plans were stymied when Hurricane Katrina hit the city on August 29.
In 1987, Cowsill married a woman named Deborah with whom he had two children (he also had an older daughter). Cowsill and his wife were divorced in 2003.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans. Cowsill, who chose not to evacuate, weathered the storm in an abandoned warehouse. Cowsill survived the storm but was in need of help. He called his sister Susan from a payphone (Susan also lived in New Orleans with her family but chose to evacuate) and left four voice mail messages stating that he was surrounded by looters and people shooting. Susan Cowsill did not receive the messages until September 2. Cowsill was never heard from again. After an extensive search, Cowsill's body was found under a wharf on the Mississippi River on December 28, 2005. His body was subsequently identified by comparison to dental records. Cowsill's death was attributed to drowning as a result of the flooding following Hurricane Katrina.
The Cowsill family held two memorials for Barry in Newport and New Orleans.
- Dougher, Steve (December 17, 1990). "As Apple-Cheeked Stars of the '60s, the Cowsills Lost Their Family to Fame; Now They're Finding Harmony Again". People (Time, Inc.) 34 (24). ISSN 0093-7673.
- Gillis, James J. (November 15, 2005). "A Musical Life Falls Into Silence". Newport Daily News.
- McLellan, Dennis (January 6, 2006). "Barry Cowsill, 51; Pop Group Member an Apparent Katrina Victim". latimes.com. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
- Bill Cowsill (2011). Family Band: The Cowsills Story (Motion picture). Thinking Bee Productions. Event occurs at 59:01-1:00:01-2.
- Bill Cowsill (2011). Family Band: The Cowsills Story (Motion picture). Thinking Bee Productions. Event occurs at 1:00:01-2.
- Nienaber, Georgianne (December 28, 2007). "Susan Cowsill – Still Believing in New Orleans". glidemagazine.com. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
- Silverman, Stephen M. (February 20, 2006). "Cowsills Frontman William Cowsill Dies". people.com. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
- "Barry Cowsill dies, 51", Sarnia Observer (ON). Entertainment, Monday, January 9, 2006, p. B4
- Bill Cowsill (2011). Family Band: The Cowsills Story (Motion picture). Thinking Bee Productions. Event occurs at 1:04:37-8.