The Association Biography

One of the most attractive sunshine pop harmony bands of the mid-60s, the Association was formed by Gary Alexander (25 September 1943, USA; vocals/guitar), Russ Giguere (b. 18 October 1943, USA; vocals, percussion, guitar), Brian Cole (b. 1942, USA, d. 2 August 1972; vocals/bass), Ted Bluechel (b. 2 December 1942, USA; drums/vocals), Terry Kirkman (b. 12 December 1939, Salina, Kansas, USA; keyboards) and Bob Page (b. 13 May 1943, USA; guitar/vocals), although the latter was quickly replaced by Jim Yester (b. 24 November 1939, USA; vocals/guitar).

After releasing two singles on small labels, ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’ and a folk rock version of Bob Dylan’s ‘One Too Many Mornings’, they found success with Tandyn Almer’s evocative ‘Along Comes Mary’. Its ascent to number 7 in the US charts in June 1966 coincided with allegations that it was a drugs song. The Association’s image was ambiguous: genuinely psychedelic in spirit, they also sang ballads and appeared in smart suits. With their strong line-up of singers/composers, they largely wrote their own material for albums. Terry Kirkman gave them a US number 1 single in August with ‘Cherish’, while their debut album, And Then... Along Comes The Association, produced by Curt Boettcher, displayed their harmonic talent to extraordinary effect.

No hits were forthcoming from the band’s second album, Renaissance, which was produced by Jerry Yester, brother of Jim. Alexander was replaced by Larry Ramos (b. 19 April 1942) prior to the release of the band’s third album, Insight Out, which was produced by Bones Howe. Singles success followed with another US chart-topper, ‘Windy’ (May 1967), and a number 2 with the Addrisi Brothers ‘Never My Love’ (August 1967). (Over 20 years later, ‘Never My Love’ was confirmed as the second most performed song of the twentieth-century after the Righteous Brothers’ ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’.)

The Association’s smooth balladeering was consistently balanced by aberrations such as the genuinely weird ‘Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies’ (from Renaissance), which the band released as a follow-up single to ‘Cherish’. Never candidates for the hip elite, they failed to attract a devoted following and by the late 60s their sales were dwindling, with ‘Everything That Touches You’ (number 10, February 1968) their last Top 20 single. Soldiering on, the Association continued to release accomplished singles such as ‘Time For Livin’’, but soon lost ground.

Gary Alexander returned from a trip to India with a new name, ‘Jules’, and bolstered the line-up to a seven piece. They released a soundtrack for the movieGoodbye, Columbus in 1969, with producer John Boylan also working with the band on The Association. They briefly reunited with Boettcher for the single ‘Just About The Same’ before Giguere was replaced by keyboard player Richard Thompson. A reasonable ‘comeback’ album, Waterbeds In Trinidad! (1972), brought new hope, but the death of founder member Brian Coles from drug abuse accelerated the band’s eventual move onto the revivalist circuit.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.