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Barry Cowsill

Musician

A body found on a New Orleans wharf in December has been identified as that of Barry Cowsill, a member of popular 1960s singing family the Cowsills, family members and a Louisiana coroner confirmed Thursday.

In the 1960s, bass player Barry Cowsill and three of his brothers — Bill on guitar, Bob on guitar and organ and John on drums — formed a popular musical group that eventually was joined by their mother, Barbara, and little sister, Susan. It became the inspiration for TV series “The Partridge Family.”

Cowsill’s body was recovered Dec. 28 from the Chartres Street Wharf and identified Jan. 3 from dental records.

He’s believed to be a victim of Hurricane Katrina, which hit Aug. 29. The family Web site said Cowsill, 51, who had lived in New Orleans on and off for several years, left messages on his sister’s telephone answering machine Sept. 1 but had not been heard from since.

Richard Cowsill said no memorial service was planned and that his brother would be cremated.

The Cowsill family, from Newport, R.I., recorded a series of hits from 1967-70, including “The Rain, the Park and Other Things” and “Hair,” and were reps for the American Dairy Assn., appearing in commercials and print ads for milk.

The Cowsills got their start very early in Newport. Bill and Bob taught themselves how to play guitar and Barry and John later joined in. By 1965, they had a regular gig at a local club and were spotted by a producer for NBC’s “Today” show.

A “Today” appearance led to a record deal, and patriarch Bud Cowsill decided to add wife Barbara and Susan, then 7, to the band. The band broke up in the ’70s amid acrimony that reportedly left some members estranged for several years.

“It wasn’t just the end of a business, it was the end of a family,” Bob Cowsill said in a 1990 interview.

In addition to his famous siblings, Cowsill is survived by two daughters and a son.

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