The Hippest of the Unhip Bands: The Association

The history, songs, and music of these Sunshine Pop mainstays

The members of The Association in their '60s prime

Who Were the Association?

They were notoriously square in the Sixties, the pop sellout answer to "real" psychedelic and rock groups, but The Association were actually a very talented group of musicians with at least one visionary songwriter, a band capable of rocking out, crafting gentle adult contemporary ballads, or going full sunshine pop when necessary.

The Association's most popular songs:

  • "Windy"
  • "Along Comes Mary"
  • "Cherish"
  • "Never My Love"
  • "Everything That Touches You"
  • "Requiem for the Masses"
  • "No Fair at All"
  • "Time for Livin'"
  • "Six Man Band"
  • "Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies"

Where you might have heard them "Along Comes Mary" has gained a reputation as a clever drug song (it's unsure if that's true), and "Cherish" remains one of the era's most durable and romantic ballads.Their biggest recent exposure, however, has got to be in "Breaking Bad," where "Windy" served as the world's most ironic cold opening ever.

Formed:

1965 (Los Angeles, CA)

Styles Pop, Pop-rock, Soft rock, Adult contemporary, Folk-rock, Psychedelia, Sunshine pop

The classic Association lineup:

Jules Alexander (b. Gary Alexander, September 25, 1943, Chattanooga, TN): vocals, guitar
Terry Kirkman (b. December 12, 1941, Salina, KS): vocals, brass, woodwinds
Russ Giguere (b. October 18, 1943, Portsmouth, NH): vocals, guitar
Jim Yester (b.

November 24, 1939, Birmingham, AL): vocals, guitar, keyboards
Brian Cole (b. September 8, 1942, Tacoma, WA; d. August 2, 1972, Los Angeles, CA): vocals, bass
Larry Ramos (b. Hilario Ramos, Jr., April 12, 1942, Waimea, Kauai, HI): vocals, bass, guitar
Ted Bluechel, Jr. (b. December 2, 1942, San Pedro, CA): vocals, drums

Claims to fame:

  • At the forefront of the folk movement's assimilation into California pop
  • A multi-instrumentalist band that also performed six-part harmonies live on stage
  • Experimented with psychedelic and protest music earlier than most pop groups
  • Created a lush adult contemporary sound that still contained a hipster's edge
  • Thought to have been one of the first bands to endorse marijuana on their hit "Along Comes Mary"
  • One of pop's all-time most romantic groups

History

Early years

The Association began life as the thirteen-member (!) vocal group The Men, formed by Kirkman and Alexander as a response to what they saw as the timidity of large folk groups like The New Christy Minstrels. Keeping all those people on the same page proved to be difficult, and though they'd already become the house band at Los Angeles' influential Troubadour club, a heated argument led to six members walking out of the room. Originally planning to call themselves the Aristocrats, Kirkman's wife went to look the name up in a dictionary and instead came back with The Association, which seemed a better name.

Success

A few ambitious singles flopped, but the b-side of a single called "Your Own Love" caught the ear of several deejays, and the song "Along Comes Mary" became a smash in 1966.

Several followups scored, some written by the band, some not: "Cherish," one of their most popular original ballads, was garnering massive crowd support at the Minstrels' shows, but Kirkman refused to let anyone but his band cut it. At the same time, the group experimented with the burgeoning psychedelic and protest movements, but these singles sold considerably worse than the ballads and breezy sunshiny pop hits like "Windy."

Later years

As the Sixties progressed, the Association fell more and more out of favor with youth due to their AM radio sound and the fact that they didn't play their own instruments on those hit records (they were classically trained musicians, but their labels insisted on L.A.s famous Wrecking Crew of session men anyway). The death of founding member Brian Cole in 1973 was the final nail in the group's coffin, yet after a 1979 television special found them still in possession of the old magic, they began an Eighties touring comeback that continues -- in various forms, with various members -- today.

More About the Association

The Association facts and trivia:

  • Other members have included: Bob Page [b. May 13, 1943): vocals, guitar
  • The group's 1968 hit "Windy" was composed by an outside writer about her freewheeling grandfather, and the lyrics changed
  • The vocal tracks on the Association's early hits were recorded at completely different studios than the music, an almost unheard-of practice at the time
  • The vocals on "Windy" were actually handled mainly by assorted people hanging around the studio, as the two leads had burned their voices out on multiple takes
  • Jim Yester has played with versions of the Modern Folk Quartet, The Four Preps, and The Lovin' Spoonful

The Association Awards and Honors Vocal Group Hall of Fame (2003)

The Association hit singles and albums:

#1 hits:
Pop "Cherish" (1966), "Windy" (1967)

Top 10 hits:
Pop "Along Comes Mary" (1966), "Never My Love" (1967), "Everything That Touches You" (1968)

Top 10 albums:
And Then... Along Comes The Association (1966), Insight Out (1967), Greatest Hits (1969)

Notable covers The Bloodhound Gang played up the supposed marijuana intimations of "Along Comes Mary" in their deadpan-punk 1999 version; Blue Swede followed up their bizarre "ooga chaka" version of "Hooked on a Feeling" with a upbeat, Beatles-themed version of "Never My Love" that was nearly as jarring; the cast of Glee took a crack at "Cherish" back in 2012

Movies and TV The Association were asked to provide the title song for the 1969 Richard Benjamin / Ali McGraw comedy Goodbye, Columbus; the band's last known TV sighting found them performing several holiday songs in the 1984 special Scrooge's Rock 'N' Roll Christmas

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Your Citation
Fontenot, Robert. "The Hippest of the Unhip Bands: The Association." ThoughtCo, Nov. 19, 2017, thoughtco.com/profile-the-association-2521947. Fontenot, Robert. (2017, November 19). The Hippest of the Unhip Bands: The Association. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/profile-the-association-2521947 Fontenot, Robert. "The Hippest of the Unhip Bands: The Association." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/profile-the-association-2521947 (accessed December 12, 2017).