Formed in California in 1965, The Association enjoyed a brief reign in the international music charts during the mid-60s. They were clean-cut and had immense style – and their music, which relied on intricate six-part vocal harmony, became known as “the new American sound’ and ‘sunshine pop‘.
During 1966 the group chalked up two massive American Top Ten hits with Along Comes Mary and Cherish (their first American #1), and both songs sold over a million copies.
They were followed by the obscure Pandora’s Golden Heebie Jeebies, the wistful Windy which topped the US charts in 1967, and Never My Love, which reached the #2 slot. Their albums And Then . . . Along Comes The Association and Insight Out both also sold over a million copies.
Their first hit, Along Came Mary (1966), picked up a lot of publicity from the fuss about drug references in rock songs. The ‘Mary’ in the song went around solving people’s problems and somebody decided that ‘Mary’ must be marijuana.
The arrangement of the song earned praise from Leonard Bernstein, who, on his ABC-TV special Inside Pop, used it to show how sophisticated rock music had become.
The image of the sextet (later a seven-piece) was wholesome, and this and their clean-cut harmonies and pretty wind-instrument decorative touches made them big in Middle America, and in 1968 they enjoyed their only British success with A Time For Living.
Their albums, though, were inconsistent and the hit singles dried up after 1968.
On 2 August 1972, Brian Cole was found dead in his Los Angeles home of a heroin overdose. The band left Warner Brothers records and switched to Columbia, but further recording success eluded them.
The group turned to the US cabaret circuit and supper clubs and carved out a new career which continues today (albeit with a much-changed line-up).
Guitarist Larry Ramos passed away in 2014.