The Association

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The Association
The Association 1968.JPG
The group in 1968.
Top row, from left: Jim Yester, Brian Cole, Ted Bluechel; bottom row, from left: Russ Giguere, Larry Ramos, Terry Kirkman
Background information
OriginCalifornia, United States
GenresSunshine pop, baroque pop, folk rock, psychedelic folk
Years active1965–1978; 1979-present
LabelsJubilee, Valiant, Warner Bros., Columbia, Mums, RCA, Elektra
WebsiteThe Association Official website
MembersJules Gary Alexander
Jim Yester
Bruce Pictor
Del Ramos
Jordan Cole
Paul Holland
Past membersLarry Ramos
Russ Giguere
Terry Kirkman
Brian Cole
Ted Bluechel Jr
Bob Page
Richard Thompson
Wolfgang Meltz
Mike Berkowitz
Maurice Miller
Art Johnson
David Vaught
Jerry Yester
Dwayne Smith
Andy Chapin
Larry Brown
Jay Gruska
David Morgan
Cliff Woolley
Ric Ulsky
Russ Levine
John William Tuttle
Joe Lamanno
Keith Moret
Brian Puckett
Donni Gougeon
Chris Urmston
Bob Werner
David Jackson
Blair Anderson
Godfrey Townsend
 
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The Association
The Association 1968.JPG
The group in 1968.
Top row, from left: Jim Yester, Brian Cole, Ted Bluechel; bottom row, from left: Russ Giguere, Larry Ramos, Terry Kirkman
Background information
OriginCalifornia, United States
GenresSunshine pop, baroque pop, folk rock, psychedelic folk
Years active1965–1978; 1979-present
LabelsJubilee, Valiant, Warner Bros., Columbia, Mums, RCA, Elektra
WebsiteThe Association Official website
MembersJules Gary Alexander
Jim Yester
Bruce Pictor
Del Ramos
Jordan Cole
Paul Holland
Past membersLarry Ramos
Russ Giguere
Terry Kirkman
Brian Cole
Ted Bluechel Jr
Bob Page
Richard Thompson
Wolfgang Meltz
Mike Berkowitz
Maurice Miller
Art Johnson
David Vaught
Jerry Yester
Dwayne Smith
Andy Chapin
Larry Brown
Jay Gruska
David Morgan
Cliff Woolley
Ric Ulsky
Russ Levine
John William Tuttle
Joe Lamanno
Keith Moret
Brian Puckett
Donni Gougeon
Chris Urmston
Bob Werner
David Jackson
Blair Anderson
Godfrey Townsend

The Association is an American pop music band from California in the folk rock or soft rock genre. During the 1960s, they had numerous hits at or near the top of the Billboard charts and were the lead-off band at 1967's Monterey Pop Festival.

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

Jules Alexander (born September 25, 1943, Chattanooga, Tennessee) was in Hawaii in 1962 serving a stint in the Navy when he met Terry Kirkman (born December 12, 1939, Salina, Kansas), a visiting salesman. The two young musicians jammed together and promised to get together once Alexander was discharged. That happened a year later; the two eventually moved to Los Angeles and began exploring the city's music scene in the mid-1960s. At the same time, Kirkman played in groups with Frank Zappa for a short period before Zappa went on to form The Mothers of Invention. Eventually, at a Monday night hootenanny at the LA nightclub The Troubadour in 1964, an ad hoc group called The Inner Tubes was formed by Kirkman, Alexander and Doug Dillard, whose rotating membership contained, at one time or another, Cass Elliot, David Crosby and many others who drifted in and out. This led in 1965 to the forming of The Men, a 13 piece folk-rock band. This group had a brief spell as the house band at The Troubadour.

After a short time, however, The Men disbanded, with six of the members electing to go out on their own (some of the remaining players continued on as Tony Mafia's Men, one of the others, Mike Whalen, joined The New Christy Minstrels). At the suggestion of Kirkman's then-fiancée, Judy, they took the name The Association. The original lineup consisted of Alexander (using his middle name, Gary, on the first 2 albums) on vocals and lead guitar; Kirkman on vocals and a variety of wind, brass and percussion instruments; Brian Cole on vocals, bass and woodwinds; Russ Giguere (born October 18, 1943, Portsmouth, New Hampshire) on vocals, percussion and guitar; Ted Bluechel, Jr. (born December 2, 1942, San Pedro, California) on drums, guitar, bass and vocals; and Bob Page (born May 13, 1943) on guitar, banjo and vocals. However, Page was replaced by Jim Yester (born November 24, 1939, Birmingham, Alabama) on vocals, guitar and keyboards before any of the group's public performances.

The new band spent about five months rehearsing before they began performing around the Los Angeles area, most notably a regular stint at The Ice House in Pasadena and its sister club in Glendale.[1] They also auditioned for record labels but faced resistance due to their unique sound. Eventually, the small Jubilee label issued a single of "Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" (a song originally recorded by Joan Baez, later popularized by Led Zeppelin) but nothing happened. Finally, Valiant Records gave them a contract, with the first result being a version of Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings", which was produced by Valiant's owner, Barry DeVorzon.

The Men were first managed by Doug Weston, owner of the Troubador, before switching to actor Dean Fredericks, who remained on board when the Association was formed and helped get them the Valiant deal. In 1966 Fredericks turned the reins over to Pat Colecchio, who managed the group for the next eight years.

First success[edit]

Their national break would come with the song "Along Comes Mary", written by Tandyn Almer.[1] Alexander first heard the song when he was hired to play on a demo version and persuaded Almer to give the Association first crack at it. The recording went to No. 7 on the Billboard charts and led to the group's first album, And Then... Along Comes the Association, produced by Curt Boettcher. A song from the album, "Cherish", written by Kirkman,[1] would become the Association's first No. 1 in September 1966.

The group followed with their second album, Renaissance, released in early 1967. The band changed producers, dropping Boettcher in favor of Jerry Yester (brother of Jim and formerly of The Modern Folk Quartet, and later, a member of The Lovin' Spoonful). The album did not spawn any major hits (the highest charting single, "Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies" stalled at No. 35) and the album only reached No. 34, compared with a No. 5 showing for its And Then... Along Comes the Association.

Crest[edit]

In late 1966, Warner Bros. Records, which had been distributing Valiant, bought the smaller label (and with it, the Association's contract).

In May 1967, Alexander left the band to study meditation in India, and he was replaced by Larry Ramos (born Hilario Ramos on April 19, 1942, Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii; died April 30, 2014)[2] on vocals and guitar. Ramos joined the band while Alexander was still performing with them after bassist Cole's hand was injured by a firecracker; Alexander subbed on bass while Ramos played lead guitar. Ramos had previously performed with The New Christy Minstrels and recorded solo singles for Columbia Records. He went on to sing co-lead (along with Giguere and Kirkman) on two of the Association's biggest hit singles, "Windy" and "Never My Love".

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"Windy" topped the Hot 100 in July 1967

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With the line up settled, the group returned to the studio, this time with Bones Howe in the producer's chair. The first fruits of this pairing would be the single "Windy", written by Ruthann Friedman, topping the Hot 100 on July 1, 1967 and preceded by the album Insight Out, which reached No. 8 in June.

On June 16, 1967, the Association was the first act to perform at the Monterey Pop Festival (The Criterion Collection DVD of the festival includes their performance of "Along Comes Mary" on disc 3).

The group's winning streak continued with their next single, "Never My Love", written by Don and Dick Addrisi; it went to No. 2 in Billboard and No. 1 in Cash Box in October 1967. It became the group's only double-sided charted record as its B-side, "Requiem For The Masses", made a brief showing on the Billboard chart. Like "Cherish" and "One Too Many Mornings", "Never My Love" had a vocal arrangement that was provided by Clark Burroughs, a former member of the Hi-Los. "Never My Love" has since been accredited by BMI as the song with the second most US airplay in the 20th century.[3]

After rejecting the recording of an entire cantata written by Jimmy Webb, which included the song "MacArthur Park", the group, in early 1968, produced its fourth album, Birthday, with Bones Howe again at the controls. This album spawned "Everything That Touches You", the group's last Hot 100 top 10 hit, and the more experimental "Time for Livin'", the group's very Hot 100 Top 40 hit. Later that year, the group released a self-produced single, the harder-edged "Six Man Band". This song would also appear on Greatest Hits, released in November 1968.

Comings and goings[edit]

In early 1969, Alexander returned to the group, which now made the Association a seven-man band (they acknowledged by changing the title and lyric of "Six-Man Band" to match during live performances of the song).

The first project with the seven-piece band was music for the soundtrack of Goodbye, Columbus, the film version of Philip Roth's best-selling novel. The title track, written by Yester, peaked at No. 80. John Boylan, one third of the unknown Hamilton Streetcar, worked with the group on the soundtrack and stayed on board for the next album, The Association. Many of the tracks on this album have a country-rock sound but none of the singles released made any impact, so the group re-teamed with Curt Boettcher in late 1969 for a one-off single, "Just About the Same" (released in February 1970), a reworking of a song Boettcher had recorded with his group, The Millennium. This failed to hit as well.

Despite all this, the band remained a popular concert draw and on April 3, 1970 a Salt Lake City performance was recorded for The Association Live.

In 1971 Giguere left the band; he would release a solo album, Hexagram 16, that same year. The Association replaced him with keyboardist Richard Thompson (no relation to the English singer-songwriter/guitarist), who had contributed to previous albums and would go on to be known primarily in jazz circles.

1971 also saw the release of Stop Your Motor. The album was their worst selling to date, reaching only No. 158 on the Billboard chart. Stop Your Motor also marked the end of the Association's tenure at Warner Bros.

In early 1972, they resurfaced on Columbia with Waterbeds in Trinidad!, produced by Lewis Merenstein (best known for producing Van Morrison's Astral Weeks). The album fared even worse than Stop Your Motor, reaching No. 194, while a single of The Lovin' Spoonful's "Darlin' Be Home Soon" failed to break the Hot 100.

Breakup and re-formation[edit]

For their 1972 tour, the group expanded to nine members, bringing in session players Wolfgang Meltz and Mike Berkowitz on bass and drums respectively to add more musical versatility on stage and free up Brian Cole and Ted Bluechel to concentrate on singing only. But on August 2, 1972, 29-year-old Cole was found dead in his Los Angeles home of a heroin overdose. For the rest of the 1970s, the Association was in a state of flux, releasing singles now and then along with sporadic touring.

At the end of 1972, Kirkman departed, as did Meltz and Berkowitz. The group was then moved over to the CBS distributed Mums label and put out a new single, Albert Hammond's "Names, Tags, Numbers & Labels". It failed to make much of an impression, though, and Mums folded by the end of 1974.

Thompson left at the beginning of 1973 and the remaining foursome of Alexander, Bluechel, Yester and Ramos brought in new members Maurice Miller (vocals, drums, percussion, formerly of Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band), Art Johnson (vocals, guitar), and David Vaught (vocals, bass, later a member of the Lopez Beatles, he passed away on March 20th, 2013 from pancreatic cancer) and continued touring. Jim Yester was briefly replaced by his brother Jerry later this same year, only to return in 1974. When Alexander left soon after to join Giguere and former Honey Ltd. female vocalists Alex Sliwin, Joan Sliwin and Marsha Temmer in a new outfit, Bijou, in 1974, Jerry again came in to play with the group until the end of that year.

1975 saw the band now on RCA where they released two singles, "One Sunday Morning" and "Sleepy Eyes". An album called The Association Bites Back was to follow but was never released. Recent releases onto Youtube of some of this unreleased material show that the group was incorporating a more R&B direction on some of the songs.

Membership was fluid in 1975-1976. Dwayne Smith (vocals, keyboards) joined and appeared on "One Sunday Morning" but was replaced by Andy Chapin by the end of 1975. Ramos departed as well in mid-1975 and was replaced by Larry Brown (vocals, guitar), who was a member for three years. Johnson stayed on board for a short while longer but was likewise gone by the end of 1975. The increased tour schedule led to Chapin's departure in 1976 (he later played for artist Ricky Nelson and perished along with Nelson and his band when his plane crashed on December 31, 1985). Chapin was replaced, first by Jay Gruska, who had just finished a stint with Three Dog Night, and then by David Morgan in mid-1976.

During this period, the band was offered a production deal with Mike Curb who wanted them to record a disco version of the prior hits, "Cherish", "No Fair At All", and an original song which Larry Brown wrote and sang entitled "It's High Time To Get High". Reportedly, Curb was dissatisfied with the drum tracks and wanted to bring in session drummer Jim Gordon to play, but the band refused, sinking the deal.

In 1977 Bluechel and Yester and the current lineup recorded new versions of “Windy”, “Cherish”, "Never My Love”, “Along Comes Mary” and “Everything That Touches You” with session players for a new album collection, Back to Back, where one half of the record was Association songs and the other half tunes by The Turtles.

In 1978 Brown left to concentrate on session work and was replaced by Cliff Woolley. However, the prime gigs were fewer and far between by this time and Yester left (in late 1977), leaving Bluechel as the only original member. Keyboardist Ric Ulsky stepped in in early 1978 and the group had two keyboardists for a short time before Morgan was succeeded by guitarist/singer John William Tuttle (son of makeup artist William Tuttle, John died on August 17, 1991 at age 41 of a perforated ulcer in Van Nuys, CA). Russ Levine (who had played with Bobby Womack, Donna Summer and Ultimate Spinach) also arrived to replace Miller (who went on to play with Lena Horne but died of complications from diabetes October 10, 2005 in Burbank, CA at age 73) on drums but the band then dissolved shortly afterwards, leaving Bluechel with a huge debt. To help clear away some of it, on November 1, 1978, he leased the group's name to another company who put a fake Association out on the road.

In September 1979 the surviving key members Kirkman, Alexander, Giguere, Bluechel, Yester and Ramos, along with Richard Thompson and new bassist Joe Lamanno, reunited at the Ambassador Hotel's Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles for an HBO special called Then and Now (Kirkman was working for HBO at the time) and also appeared at a charity show hosted by Ed McMahon the same year in Dallas called Ed McMahon and Company. This led, in the early 1980s, to a few singles on Elektra Records (one of which, "Dreamer", reunited them with producer Bones Howe and made the Hot 100 with virtually no promotion) and more touring.

In 1980 the surviving originals (with Ric Ulsky returning in place of Thompson and Alexander taking over the bass) went back on the road for a concert tour. With the genuine article back out touring, the bogus band was eventually put out of business.

Happy Together Again and the 1960s package tours[edit]

Jim Yester left again in 1983 and the group added Keith Moret (bass, backing vocals) as Alexander went back to playing guitar. Moret stayed only briefly until Lamanno returned in 1984. That same year the group was invited to appear on the Happy Together Again tour, a multi-bill of 1960s acts produced by David Fishof, headlined by The Turtles, and also including Gary Puckett and Spanky McFarlane of Spanky & Our Gang. Gary's brother, Brian Puckett, played drums in the show for Gary and McFarlane and likewise joined the Association for their set as well. But by the end of the year, there was a mass exodus as Kirkman, Bluechel, Ulsky, Lamanno and Brian Puckett all departed.

In 1985 the band carried on as Alexander, Giguere and Ramos recruited new members: Paul Beach (vocals, bass, who'd also played in the Happy Together Again show band), Bruce Pictor (vocals, drums, percussion) and Donni Gougeon (vocals, keyboards). Gougeon was briefly replaced in 1986 by Chris Urmston but was back by the following year. Paul Holland took Gougeon's place in 1988 before moving over to bass in 1989 when Beach quit. Gougeon then rejoined for a ten-year stint from 1989–1999 before illness in his family called him away. He was succeeded by Jordan Cole (the son of the band's original bassist, Brian Cole). Alexander turned in his notice in early 1989. Larry Ramos's brother Del, who was audio mixing for the group in the 1980s, then began adding his voice to the mix and also assumed bass duties in 1999 after Paul Holland left to tend to his light and sound company. Bob Werner (vocals, guitar, bass), who had been the band's light man and road manager in 1974-75, and fill-in member as needed from 1994 on, was also a member of the group from 1999 to 2007.

Besides the Happy Together tour, the group became mainstays on many other 1960s package tours, including the 1988 Super 60s Tour with Gary Puckett, The Grass Roots, and The Turtles; and Dick Clark's American Bandstand Tour in 1989, sponsored by VH1.

During the 1980s and 1990s the group's recorded output was minimal. They recorded a few new tracks and some covers of popular 1960s songs for a few compilation albums on the Hitbound label made through Radio Shack's Tandy Corporation in the mid-1980s; re-recorded some of their older material and more cover songs for another album, Vintage, for CBS in 1983; and put out another album full of covers, The Association '95: A Little Bit More, in 1995. But most of what has been released from the 1980s on have been various collections of their hits.

In September 2003 they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, joined by former members Yester, Alexander, Kirkman and Bluechel at the induction ceremony at Cafaro Field. Yester, Alexander, Kirkman and Bluechel again rejoined the others for the taping of a PBS 1960s rock music special 60s Experience on December 9, 2004 at Dover Downs Showroom in Dover, DE.

In 2007 David Jackson (bass, guitar) came into the group for a brief stint when Bob Werner was unavailable. In 2008, drummer Bruce Pictor underwent back surgery. Blair Anderson sat in for Pictor until he was able to rejoin his bandmates that November.

By 2010, the band included Giguere, Ramos, Jim Yester[4] (who rejoined again in 2007 as Bob Werner departed after an eight-year stint[citation needed]), Del Ramos, Bruce Pictor and Jordan Cole.[4] The Association continued to tour, mostly on bills with similar styled acts of the late 1960s, like The Grass Roots, The Buckinghams, Tommy James, and Gary Puckett.

During the summer of 2011, the Association appeared in a heavy touring schedule throughout the U.S. as part of the Happy Together: 2011 tour, along with The Grass Roots, Mark Lindsay, The Buckinghams, and The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie.[5] The Happy Together appearances featured only Giguere, Ramos and Yester who were backed up by the Happy Together show band.

In January 2012 Ramos was sidelined due to illness, so guitarist Godfrey Townsend (from the Happy Together and Hippiefest back up bands) subbed for him temporarily. The following month Jules Alexander came back to the band as Larry's stand-in and stayed after Larry returned in March.

In 2013 Alexander, Giguere, Ramos and Yester became part of the Where the Action Is[6] tour that included Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and Mitch Ryder.

In January 2014, it was announced that both Russ Giguere [7] and Larry Ramos would be retiring from touring. Larry's final performance with the group was a cancer benefit concert on February 24, 2014, at the Blue Fox Theater in Grangeville, Idaho. Upon returning from spending his 72nd birthday in his beloved homeland of Hawaii, Larry passed away from melanoma on April 30, 2014. [8]

In 2014 1980s/90s member Paul Holland returned to the band after fifteen years.

Shindig Magazine named Now Sounds re-issue of The Association the best of 2013.[9]

Million sellers[edit]

Three songs were certified as having sold over one million copies, and were each awarded a platinum disc: "Cherish", "Windy", and "Never My Love".[10]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Reissued in 1967 on Warner Bros. W-1702/WS-1702
Reissued in 1967 on Warner Bros. W-1704/WS-1704

Other releases[edit]

Singles[edit]

A-Side / B-Side Titles
B-sides correspond to same album as A-sides
except where indicated
Label & No.YearUSUS
Cashbox
AUSAlbum
"Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You"
b/w "Baby, Can't You Hear Me Call Your Name"
Jubilee 55051965---Non-album tracks
"One Too Many Mornings"
b/w "Forty Times"
Valiant 7301965---
"Along Comes Mary"
b/w "Your Own Love"
Valiant 7411966#7#9-And Then...Along Comes The Association
"Cherish"
b/w "Don’t Blame It on Me"
Valiant 7471966#1#1#33
"Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies"
b/w "Standing Still" (from And Then...Along Comes The Association)
Valiant 7551966#35#26-Renaissance
"No Fair at All"
b/w "Looking Glass"
Valiant 7581967#51#53-
"Windy"
b/w "Sometime"
Warner Bros. 70411967#1#1#34Insight Out
"Never My Love" /
"Requiem for the Masses"
Warner Bros. 70741967#2 /
#100
#1-
"Everything That Touches You"
b/w "We Love Us" (from Insight Out)
Warner Bros. 71631968#10#11-Birthday
"Time for Livin'"
b/w "Birthday Morning"
Warner Bros. 71951968#39 [#27-AC]#22-
"Six Man Band"
b/w "Like Always" (from Birthday)
Warner Bros. 72291968#47#29-Greatest Hits
"The Time It Is Today"
b/w "Enter the Young"
Warner Bros. 72391969---Greatest Hits
"Goodbye Columbus"
b/w "The Time It is Today" (from Birthday)
Warner Bros. 72671969#80 [#22-AC]#78-Goodbye Columbus soundtrack
"Under Branches"
b/w "Hear in Here" (from Birthday)
Warner Bros. 72771969#117--The Association
"Yes, I Will"
b/w "I Am Up For Europe"
Warner Bros. 73051970#120--
"Dubuque Blues"
b/w "Are You Ready"
Warner Bros. 73491970-#84-
"Just About the Same"
b/w "Look At Me, Look At You" (from The Association)
Warner Bros. 73721970#106#91-Non-album track
"Along the Way"
b/w "Traveler’s Guide"
Warner Bros. 74291970---Stop Your Motor
"P.F. Sloan"
b/w "Traveler's Guide"
Warner Bros. 74711971---
"Bring Yourself Home"
b/w "It’s Gotta Be Real"
Warner Bros. 75151971---
"That’s Racin’"
b/w "Makes Me Cry" (alternate title for "Funny Kind of Song")
Warner Bros. 75241971---
"Darlin' Be Home Soon"
b/w "Indian Wells Woman"
Columbia 456021972#104#90-Waterbeds In Trinidad!
"Come the Fall"
b/w "Kicking the Gong Around"
Columbia 456541972---
"Names, Tags, Numbers and Labels"
b/w "Rainbows Bent" (from Waterbeds In Trinidad)
Mums 60611973#91 [#27-AC]#85-Non-album tracks
"One Sunday Morning"
b/w "Life Is a Carnival"
RCA 102171975---
"Sleepy Eyes"
b/w "Take Me to the Pilot"
RCA 102971975---
"Dreamer"
b/w "You Turn the Light On"
Elektra 470941981#66 [#17-AC]--
"Small Town Lovers"
b/w "Across the Persian Gulf"
Elektra 471461981---

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 37 - The Rubberization of Soul: The great pop music renaissance. [Part 3] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. 
  2. ^ "January to June 2014". The Dead Rock Stars Club. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 
  3. ^ "BMI Announces Top 100 Songs of the Century | News". BMI.com. 1999-12-13. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 
  4. ^ a b Steve Palisin, "The Association teams up with Long Bay Symphony," The Sun News, October 19, 2012.
  5. ^ McQuistion, James (April 30, 2011). "Happy Together Tour Returns In Summer 2011". Retrieved 2011-05-12. 
  6. ^ "Where the Action is Tour Bio". Wheretheactionistour.com. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 
  7. ^ "News/Happenings". Theassociationwebsite.com. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 
  8. ^ "It is with immense". daughter. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  9. ^ "Psychedelia, Garage, Beat, Powerpop, Soul, Folk". Shindig! Magazine. 1998-05-24. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 
  10. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 200 & 215. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 

External links[edit]