Following the demise of Blue Shadows after only a pair of albums, Billy Cowsill (also a member of the family band of the same name that spawned The Partridge Family), bounced around between Vancouver and Calgary for a couple of years looking for a new project.
He settled in Calgary in 1998 and enrolled at Mount Royal College to begin studies in Psychology, and formed The Co-Dependents with guitarist Steve Pineo, Tim Leacock on bass, and drummer Ross Watson. Originally intended to be just a weekend pick-up band that melded country, bluegrass, blues, rock, and rockabilly sounds, before long they’d become one of the city’s hottest tickets, playing almost every Saturday night at The Mecca Cafe. But soon local shows spread out throughout the province and into western Canada. Cowsill also had a sideline of working with other groups in the area, and produced Optimal Impact’s debut album in 2000, SUN SITTIN’.
But while touring with The Co-Dependents, they recorded a three-night stand at The Mecca Cafe in June of 2001, dubbed appropriately LIVE RECORDING EVENT. The album was hailed by the critics for its diversity, featuring the band’s interpretations of such classics as Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” Marty Robbins’ “Devil Woman,” Elvis’ “All Shook Up,” and The Rolling Stones’ “Far Away Eyes” and “Out of Time.” It also featured a pair of songs written by Pineo – “Too Bad For Me” and “Mississippi Saxophone,” and two from Cowsill – “Vagabond” and “The Fool Is The Last One To Know (co-written with Ralph Boyd Johnson while he was working with him on his 2002 debut album).
With his pursuit of a Psychology degree on hold, due in part to the fact Cowsill’s health was failing, the band laid low for the next few years, but continued to tour sporadically throughout western Canada and made a few trips Stateside. Another series of shows at The Mecca in ’05 resulted in their second live album, LIVE AT THE MECCA CAFE, VOLUME 2. Again, it was filled with covers of some of the music that helped shape the individual artists’ careers, including a pair of tunes each from Patsy Cline (“Blue Bayou” and “Walking After Midnight”), Elivs (“Return To Sender” and “Little Sister”), and The Beatles (“Slow Down” and “The Ballad of John & Yoko”), as well as Roy Orbison’s “Only The Lonely” and Chuck Berry’s “(C’est La Vie) You Never Can Tell.”
But with Cowsill’s health failing, due in no small part to his legendary alcohol abuse problems, the band quietly dissolved. Cowsill died on February 18, 2006.