The Association will be a concert to ‘Cherish’ on Saturday
The Association’s Terry Kirkman had some trepidation about going onstage after watching the opening band, the Who.
Bandmate Russ Giguere recalls the story.
“It was the first time we’d ever seen them, and they are one of the greatest bands who ever walked the earth,” he said. “Terry says, ‘How are we going to follow that? I said, ‘No problem, Terry. They don’t do what we do, and we don’t do what they do. They have a vision and so do we.’ And I was exactly right. We were unique in what we did, so we really weren’t competing with anyone.”
More than 40 years later, the unique harmonies of the six-singer folk-pop-rock band continue. The Association performed live Tuesday on “The Early Show” on CBS and will play Saturday at the Horizon Casino Resort.
Three of the six original members remain in the band: Giguere, Larry Ramos and Jim Yester. The keyboardist is Jordan Cole, who is the son of the original bass player, the late Brian Cole. Ramos’ younger brother Del is on bass, and the drummer is Blair Anderson.
The Association burst onto the music scene during the early ’60s in Los Angeles with a formula and a game plan.
“We came out of folk music, and we all had experience in jazz and in rock ‘n’ roll,” Giguere said. “We had six guys for a reason. We had six instruments and six voices, so it was like 12 instruments.
“The plan was to get a top-40 song in two years. In a year and a half we had a top-10 record, and within two months of that we had a No. 1 record.”
The first hit was “Along Comes Mary,” and the No. 1 was “Cherish,” followed by another big hit, “Windy.” The Association had 24 singles, including “Never My Love,” which it played at the request of “Early Show” host Harry Smith after the program had gone off the air.
Smith’s high school prom date and childhood friends made surprise appearances on the show. The Association played its first three big hits to cap off the program.
Perhaps The Association’s most noteworthy appearance was when it opened the three-day Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967, the first multiday, multiband rock ‘n’ roll event. Ticket prices started at $3 to see acts such as Jefferson Airplane, Otis Redding, the Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Buffalo Springfield, Johnny Rivers, and the Mamas and the Papas.
“We were on the road so much those days, half the time we didn’t even get to hear who were playing with,” Giguere said. “But we opened the festival and then stayed all three nights and all three days. I sat right in the pit and saw Jimi Hendrix from about 20 feet away, and we saw Janis Joplin. It was great.”
Giguere had met Hendrix earlier.
“The first meal after the sound check, I was in line with Jimi Hendrix,” he said. “All I can tell you is he had a good appetite.”
He said he was most impressed with Moby Grape and Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar.
Giguere revealed a trade secret about the Who, which also played the festival.
“The big stack of amps they had, only one of them worked; the rest were there for show,” he said. “(Pete Townshend) rammed his guitar through a speaker, but it was just cloth. There was nothing behind it. In the trucks they had rolls of speaker cloth. Every night the guys would replace it for the next show.”