The Association

The Association

Infobox musical artist
Name = The Association

Img_capt =
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = group_or_band
Birth_name =
Alias =
Origin = California
Instrument =
Voice_type =
Genre = Sunshine pop
Occupation =
Years_active = 1965 - 1978; 1979 - present
Label = Valiant Records Warner Bros. Records
Associated_acts =
URL = [ The Association Official website]
Current_members =Russ Giguere
Larry Ramos
Jim Yester
Bruce Pictor
Del Ramos
Jordan Cole
Past_members =Jules Gary Alexander
Terry Kirkman
Brian Cole
Ted Bluechel Jr
Notable_instruments =

The Association is a pop music band from California in the sunshine pop genre. They are best known for their popularity in the 1960s, when they had numerous hits at or near the top of the Billboard charts. As of 2008, they are still playing. They are also notable for being the lead-off band at 1967's Monterey Pop Festival, essentially the first multi-group rock festival. They are known for tight vocal harmony.



Jules Alexander (born September 25th, 1943, Chattanooga, Tennessee) was in Hawaii in 1962 serving a stint in the Navy when he met Terry Kirkman (born December 12th, 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 LA's early 60s music scene (Kirkman even played in groups with Frank Zappa for a time before Zappa went on to form The Mothers of Invention). Eventually, at a Monday night hootenanny at the popular LA nightclub The Troubadour, in 1964, an ad hoc group called The Inner Tubes was formed by Terry, Jules 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 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 (born September 8th,1942, Tacoma, Washington) on vocals and bass; Russ Giguere (born October 18th, 1943, Portsmouth, New Hampshire) on vocals, percussion and guitar; Ted Bluechel, Jr (born December 2nd, 1942, San Pedro, California) on drums and vocals; and Bob Page (born May 13th, 1943) on guitar and vocals. Page's time in the band was brief; he was soon replaced by Jim Yester (born November 24th, 1939, Birmingham, Alabama) on vocals, guitar, and keyboards.

The new band spent about 5 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. 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". It gained some local notoriety, but didn't break outside of LA.

First Success

That national break would come with the song "Along Comes Mary", written by Tandyn Almer. 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 #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, would become The Association's first #1 in September 1966.

The group followed with their second album, "Renaissance", released in early 1967. Somewhat surprisingly, the band changed producers, dumping Boettcher in favor of Jerry Yester (brother of Jim and formerly of The Modern Folk Quartet). The album did not spawn any major hits (the highest charting single, "Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies" stalled at #35) and the album only reached #34, compared with a #5 showing for its predecessor.


In late 1966 Warner Bros. Records, which had been distributing Valiant, bought the smaller label (and with it, The Association's contract.) In 1967 when Jules Alexander left the band to study meditation in India, he was replaced by Larry Ramos (born April 19th, 1942, Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii), who had played with The New Christy Minstrels and recorded a solo single for Columbia Records.

With the lineup 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" (audio|Windy by The Association.ogg|sample) written by Ruthann Friedman. It reached #1 on the charts in May of 1967, and was followed closely by the album "Insight Out" which made it to #8 in June. On June 16, 1967, The Association had the unique honor of being the first act to perform at the Monterey Pop Festival. (The Criterion Collection DVD of the festival includes their spirited reading 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 #2 in "Billboard" and #1 in Cash Box in autumn 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.

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 the top 10 hit "Everything That Touches You" and another top 40 hit in "Time for Livin'". 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.

Comings and Goings

In early 1969, Jules Alexander returned to the group he had helped found. With Larry Ramos staying, The Association was now a seven-man band (which they acknowledged by changing the title and lyric of "Six-Man Band" to match.) 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, rose only to #80, an ominous sign in retrospect. John Boylan, one - third of the soon - to - be - unknown but remarkedly well - crafted Hamilton Streetcar and who would become one of the most important record producers of the '70s and '80s, worked with the group on the soundtrack, and stayed on board for the next album, "The Association". Not surprisingly, many of the tracks have a decidedly country-rock feel. None of the singles made any impact, so the group re-teamed with Curt Boettcher for a one-off single, "Just About the Same", 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 3rd, 1970, a Salt Lake City performance was recorded for "The Association Live". In 1971 Russ Giguere left the band; he would release a solo album, "Hexagram 16", that same year. The Association replaced him with keyboardist/singer Richard Thompson (no relation to the English singer-songwriter), 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". Despite some good tracks (notably a cover of Jimmy Webb's "P.F. Sloan" with Brian Cole imitating Roy Rogers in the bargain), the album was their worst selling to date, reaching only #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 #194, while a single of The Lovin' Spoonful's "Darlin' Be Home Soon" failed to break the Hot 100. For the band, however, the worst was yet to come.

Death and Rebirth

For their 1972 tour, the group expanded to nine members, bringing in crack session players Wolfgang Meltz and Mike Berkowitz on bass & drums respectively to add more musical versatility on stage and free up Brian Cole & Ted Bluechel to concentrate on singing only. But on August 2nd, 1972, Cole was found dead in his Los Angeles home of an overdose of heroin - he was 29 years old. 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. Thompson eventually left as well. The remaining members signed to the independent Mums label(which had been formed by Bobby Roberts, formerly of Dunhill Records)and put out a new single "Names, Tags, Numbers & Labels". It failed to make much of an impression, though, and Mums folded by the end of 1974. The remaining foursome of Alexander, Bluechel, Yester & Ramos brought in new members Maurice Miller(vocals, drums, percussion), Art Johnson(vocals, guitar) and David Vaught(vocals, bass) in 1973 and continued touring. Jim Yester was briefly replaced by his brother Jerry later this same year, only to return in 1974. When Jules Alexander left soon after to join Russ Giguere in a new vocal outfit, Bijou, Jerry again came in to play with the group until the end of that year.

1975 saw the band now on RCA, and they put out another single, "One Sunday Morning". An album called "The Association Bites Back" was to follow but never got released. Membership was a bit fluid in 1975-76. Dwayne Smith(vocals, keyboards) joined and appeared on the above single but was replaced by Andy Chapin by the end of '75. Ramos departed as well, as did Art Johnson. Larry Brown (vocals, guitar) then came in for three years. The increased tour schedule led to Chapin's departure in 1976(He later played for artist Rick Nelson and perished along with Nelson and his band when his plane crashed on December 31st, 1985). Andy was replaced, first by Jay Gruska, who'd just finished a stint with Three Dog Night, and then by David Morgan in late 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, and the band refused, sinking the deal.

In 1978 Brown left to concentrate on session work and was replaced by Cliff Woolley. But the prime gigs were fewer and far between by this time and Yester left leaving Bluechel as the only original member. Keyboard man Ric Ulsky stepped in at this point and the group had two keyboardists for a short time. Russ Levine (who'd played with Bobby Womack, Donna Summer and Ultimate Spinach) also arrived to replace Miller on drums and Brown returned for a short time after Morgan bowed out. But the band then dissolved shortly afterwards leaving Bluechel with a huge debt. To help clear away some of it, he leased the group's name to another company on November 1st, 1978 who put a fake Association out on the road.

In 1979, the surviving key members Terry Kirkman, Jules Alexander, Russ Giguere, Ted Bluechel, Jim Yester & Larry Ramos reunited for an HBO special called Then and Now (Kirkman was working for HBO at the time) and a charity show hosted by Ed McMahon called Ed McMahon and Company. This led, in the early 80s, to a few singles on Elektra (one of which, "Dreamer", made the Hot 100 with virtually no promotion) and more touring.

In 1980, the originals went back on the road for a concert tour. In addition to the classic members, Russ Levine and Ric Ulsky were brought back for extra musical muscle. Levine only stayed a short time but Ulsky remained with the group until late 1984. With the genuine article back out touring, the bogus band was eventually put out of business.

Jim Yester left again in 1983 and the group added Keith Moret (bass, backing vocals), who was then replaced by Joe LaManno by 1984. That same year the group was invited to appear on the Happy Together Again tour, a multi-bill of 60s acts produced by David Fishof headlined by the Turtles and also including Gary Puckett and Spanky McFarlane of Spanky & Our Gang. Brian Puckett (Gary's brother) was drummer on that show behind Gary & Spanky and also played with the Association during their set. 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 Jules, Russ and Larry 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 and Paul Holland took Urmston's place in 1987 before moving over to bass in 1989 when Beach quit. Gougeon then returned to the band in 1989–1999, succeeded by Bob Werner. Jules Alexander turned in his notice in early 1989. Larry Ramos' brother Del who was doing sound for the group then began adding his voice to the mix from that point on. Eventually, he was promoted to full onstage membership and now plays bass for the group.

During the 80s & 90s the group's recorded output was minimal. They recorded a few new tracks and some covers of popular 60s songs for a few compilation albums on the Hitbound label made through Radio Shack's Tandy Corporation in the mid-80s and another album full of cover tunes, "The Association '95: A Little Bit More" in 1995. But most of what has been released from the 80s 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, a Cleveland Indians Minor League Baseball Stadium in Niles, Ohio. Yester, Alexander, Kirkman and Bluechel again rejoined the others for the taping of a PBS 60s rock music special "60's Experience" on December 9th, 2004 at Dover Downs Showroom in Dover, DE.

Currently, the band includes Russ Giguere, Larry Ramos, Jim Yester(who rejoined again in 2007 as Bob Werner departed after an eight year stint), Del Ramos, Bruce Pictor, and most interestingly, Jordan Cole (son of Brian) on keyboards who joined in 1999. The Association still tours, playing up to 70 dates a year, mostly on bills with other similar styled acts of that era, like the Grass Roots, the Buckinghams, Tommy James, Gary Puckett, etc.

On June 3rd, 2008 Pat Colecchio, the group's manager from 1966-1974 and again in the early 80s, passed away of a heart attack.



*"And Then... Along Comes The Association" -- Valiant VLM-5002/VLS-25002 (#5, 1966)::"Reissued in 1967 on Warner Bros. W-1702/WS-1702
*"Renaissance" -- Valiant VLM-5004/VLS-25004 (1967)::"Reissued in 1967 on Warner Bros. W-1704/WS-1704
*"Insight Out" -- Warner Bros. W-1696/WS-1696 (#8, 1967)
*"Birthday" -- Warner Bros. W-1733/WS-1733 (#23, 1968)
*"Greatest Hits" -- Warner Bros. WS-1767 (#4, 1968)
*"Goodbye, Columbus" -- Warner Bros. WS-1786 (1969)
*"The Association" -- Warner Bros. WS-1800 (1969)
*"The Association Live" -- Warner Bros. 2WS-1868 (1970)
*"Stop Your Motor" -- Warner Bros. WS-1927 (1971)
*"Waterbeds in Trinidad!" -- Columbia KC-31348 (1972)
*"New Memories" -- Hitbound Records 51-3022 (1983)
*"Vintage" -- CBS Special Products BT-19223 (1983)
*"" -- Track Records (1995)
*"Just the Right Sound" - The Anthology 1966-1981 (Double CD, posthumously released in 2002 as Warner Bros. / Rhino R2 78303, including two previously unreleased outtakes ('The Machine', 'Better Times') from 1966. An import variation also includes the outtake 'Caney Creek')


*"Forty Times / "One Too Many Mornings" (1965)
*"Along Comes Mary" / "Your Own Love" (#7, 1966)
*"Cherish" / "Don’t Blame It On Me" (#1, 1966)
*"Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies" / "Standing Still" (#35, 1966)
*"No Fair at All" / "Looking Glass" (#51, 1967)
*"Never My Love" / "Requiem For The Masses" (#2, 1967) ( [ [ Listed by BMI as the song with the second most US airplay in the 20th century] ] Listed by BMI as the song with the second most US airplay in the 20th century)
*"Requiem for the Masses" (#100, 1967)
*"Windy" / "Sometime" (#1, 1967)
*"Everything That Touches You" / "We Love Us" (#10, 1968)
*"Six Man Band" / "Like Always" (#47, 1968)
*"Time for Livin'" / "Birthday Morning" (#39, 1968)
*"The Time It Is Today" / "Enter The Young" (1969)
*"Goodbye Columbus" / "The Time It Is Today" (#80, 1969)
*"Under Branches / "Here In Here" (1969)
*"Yes, I Will" / "I Am Up For Europe" (1970)
*"Are You Ready" / "Dubuque Blues" (1970)
*"Just About The Same / "Look At Me, Look at You" (1970)
*"Along the Way" / "Traveler’s Guide" (1970)
*"Bring Yourself Home" / "It’s Gotta Be Real" (1971)
*"That’s Racin’ / Makes Me Cry (1971)
*"Darlin' Be Home Soon" / "Indian Wells Woman" (1972)
*"Come The Fall" / "Kicking The Gong Around" (1972)
*"Names, Tags, Numbers and Labels" / "Rainbows Bent" (#81, 1973)
*"One Sunday Morning" / "Life is a Carnival" (1975)
*"Dreamer / "You Turn the Light On" (#66, 1981)
*"Small Town Lovers" / "Across the Persian Gulf" (1981)


External links

* [ Official Website of The Association]
* [ 'The Association' Vocal Group Hall of Fame Page]
* [ Cite from Fred Bronson, "The Billboard Book of Number One Hits", Billboard, 1988]
* [ Liner notes for "Birthday" by Richie Unterberger]
* [ 'Birthday' Album Review]
* [ Official Website of Jim Yester]

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