After Youtube fame Cowan couple play piano again at Mayo Clinic

1:34 PM, Mar 5, 2010   |    comments
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ROCHESTER, MN - Frances and Marlow Cowan's inpromptu piano performance at the Mayo Clinic back in September of 2008 went viral on YouTube, but it wasn't until last week that they returned for a much overdue encore.

The charming couple from Iowa's step toward online stardom started during a medical visit to the Mayo. Marlow, who was 90 at the time, had come for a physical.

"I'd had a physical in the Army and that took about 15 minutes," Marlow said with a smile.

But a physical at the Mayo Clinic is a whole different story.

"We only brought enough underwear for two days, and they had us going for five days," Marlow joked.

In between appointments, the couple had plenty of time, so when they spotted a piano in a lobby area, they decided to give it a try. 

"I saw that piano and it said if you'd like to play (play it) and I touched the key and I thought, 'wow, now that's a piano,'" Marlow recalled.

On their last day at the clinic, another patient recorded them singing the old standard, "Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet."

During the interview with KARE 11, Marlow sang a few lines.

"Put on your old gret bonnet, with the blue ribbon on it and I'll hitch old Dobbin to the shay and we'll ride to Dover through fields of clover on our golden wedding day." 

Once the video was posted to YouTube, it became an instant  sensation with 6.5 million views and counting.

So if all those people who viewed the clip is the equivalent of an 'e' standing ovation, then an encore was long overdue.

Just last week the Cowans returned to the Mayo Clinic for the first time since that YouTube performance to the delight of so many.

Malow, was glad to be back.

"We're glad to be anywhere at our age," he joked to the overflow crowd that crammed hallways to hear them.

And with that, the Cowans launched into another performance.

If it seems the Cowans are comfortable in front of a crowd, that's because they've been entertainers for a long time - ever since they got married 62 years ago.

"We perform for nursing homes, hospitals, prisons if they want us," Frances said.

The Cowans don't own a computer so high-tech forms of entertainment like YouTube leave them a bit baffled.

When asked if they know what YouTube is, Marlow replied: "Had not a clue. In fact, I still don't know what it is."

Marlow and Frances believe a little help from above made their clip so popular. The Cowans have a deep faith and say they ask God the same question every night.

"Lord, what can we do to glorify you in our old age? Look what happened," said Frances. "We hit about 6.5 million people. Now how do you do that alone!"

Many who came to the Mayo Clinic on this Wednesday no doubt came to have a test done, hear a diagnosis or receive chemotherapy - heavy stuff. But for this brief moment they got to put it all down and pick up a cowbell.

Frances has an extensive cowbell collection and solicited help from the audience to play along and everywhere you looked, their were smiles.

Frances said they believe we are all on this earth to spread joy and to bless people. On this day, at Mayo Clinic, their mission was accomplished.  

(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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