William “Billy” Cowsill, lead singer ofSixties singing family the Cowsills, died on Friday at his home in Calgary at the age of fifty-eight. He had been in poor health, suffering from emphysema, Cushing’s syndrome and osteoporosis.
The Cowsills, the real-life family that inspired the hit TV series The Partridge Family, scored two Number Two hits, “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” and the title track to the hit rock musical Hair. The Newport, Rhode Island, band, which included brothers Billy (guitar), Barry (bass), Bob (guitar and organ) and John (drums), would later also feature brother Paul (keyboards) and their kid sister Susan (vocals), as well as their mother Barbara.
The group disbanded in the Seventies, and Billy moved to Canada where he continued to play music with such outfits as the Co-Dependents, Blue Northern and the Blue Shadows.
The Cowsill family learned of Billy’s death while holding a memorial service for his brother and fellow bandmate Barry, who was discovered dead on December 28th in New Orleans. Local authorities believe Barry died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which hit the city on August 29th.
Billy Cowsill is survived by his two sons, Travis and Delaney.