As a young teenager growing up in Roebuck and East Lake, Cowgill hung out with addicts and troublemakers until swearing off drugs and going "straight edge" at age 13. He led a teenage gang known as The Wolves and cultivated a life-long interest in punk music.
Cowgill supported himself as a bartender. He opened the do-it-yourself punk club Unity 1605 in the mid-1990s. He also performed in bands like Exhaust and wrote and directed a documentary film "0274. Rezulin and the Death of Monica George", which was screened around the country in 2001.
Later Cowgill followed in his father's footsteps by entering the Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service as a firefighter and was assigned to Birmingham Fire Station No. 19. He went from bartender to bar owner when he became a partner in Speakeasy 1920 on 3rd Avenue North from 2006 to 2012. He and Elise Youngblood founded the Black Market bar in 2009 and added a 5 Points South location in 2012.
In 2014 Cowgill published a book of essays entitled An Account of Nothing.
- Reed, Martin J. (January 27, 2014) "Punk rock, firefighting, death: Black Market Bar's George Cowgill spins wild tales." The Birmingham News
- Webb, Katherine (January 30, 2014) "Fire, Death and Punk in East Lake" Weld for Birmingham
- George Cowgill website