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“I wrote On My Side with Judy Pulver, who was in my band. It wasn’t written for The Cowsills, but once I broke my band up, The Cowsills asked me if they could do the song, and I said, ‘No problem.’
“This is a long story: I had made it out to Los Angeles by this time. What happened was, I went up to Newport, Rhode Island, with bands I had back then – we were these hotshot New Yorkers – and somebody said to me, ‘Have you heard The Cowsills?’
“’The Cowsills?’ What the hell is that? Is that even a word?’ So he told me they were this group, and we went to see them. Originally, it was just the four boys, and they were incredible. They weren’t even old enough to be in the places they were playing, but man, they really knew what they were doing.
“Then I met their father, Bud, who was this alcoholic motherfucker. I didn’t even know who he was at first – I was playing at a club, and I had him thrown out. Somebody told me, ‘That’s The Cowsills’ father,’ and I was like, ‘What? You’re kidding!’ And he wanted to manage me, too. I really didn’t like him at all. I wanted nothing to do with him.
“Finally, one day Bud said to me, ‘If I get a million dollars, will you come sign with me?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, sure I will.’ Well, they put Mom and Sue in the band, had a hit record, and I got a call that Bud was coming to see me. I was in Vermont with my band, and Bud drove up, heard the band and thought that we sounded good. So he said, ‘Well, Waddy, I got the million now. You wanna come with me?’ And I said, ‘Yeah. Get me the fuck out of here.’
“It was an insane time. We went down to New York, and we were all living together, the whole band. And then one day, Bud said that he was thinking of moving his operation to Los Angeles. He asked me if I wanted to go with him, and I said, ‘Definitely.’ I couldn’t get work in New York – it was impossible.
“We went to California, and Bud said, ‘You’re going to produce the guys.’ I was like, ‘Produce? What’s that mean?’ [Laughs] We did this arrangement of a song, Silver Threads And Golden Needles. I did this record of it with the kids, which didn’t really do much for them. Then we did On My Side, and by then things were really falling apart.
“After a while I realized that, not only was the band going nowhere, but Bud was robbing me, too. That’s when I told him, ‘I want my publishing back, and I want you out of my life. You’re fucking out of here.’ But that’s how I got to Los Angeles and got my name on a record.”