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Music Biography

July 13, 2020

Along Comes The Association

The Association performs on The Andy Williams Show

Russ Giguere’s new autobiography recounts the saga of his years in the influential, six-man, 1960s-era pop band, The Association

By Harvey Kubernik

Along Comes The Association: Beyond Folk Rock and Three-Piece Suits, is the autobiography co-written by founding member Russ Giguere with Ashley Wren Collins and published by Rare Bird Books. The foreword is penned by David Geffen.

“Researching this book and working on it with Russ and seeing and understanding all the pieces of America’s cultural and music puzzle that began and intertwined starting in the 1960s — I really came to appreciate just how much rock and roll owes to The Association,” offers collaborator and award-winning author, Collins. “My hope is that comes across to our readers.”

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Along Comes The Association: Beyond Folk Rock and Three-Piece Suits is a fascinating book, an accurate and visual portrait of the Los Angeles and Hollywood music world of the sixties. As a teenager in West Hollywood I’d encounter musicians in the Association in my neighborhood at various food haunts and local clubs.

Giguere’s illustrated text chronicles his fellow group of melodic troubadours as they became a highly influential pop group who created unparalleled music, unique to their time and place ­— and never again to be repeated. It’s an important saga about a six-man band that should be examined more thoroughly and cherished.

Russ Giguere

Russ Giguere

Russ Giguere INERVIEW

RG: Why did you decide to write your autobiography?

RG: To put out the truth. I read so much bullshit about the band, flat-out lies. And I’ve read some truth about the group but overall there’s never been anything that gave the readers the real story. I collected more vintage items related to the band than anyone else and always kept posters and some photographs. In the book there’s a list of all the bands and acts that the Association played with from 1965 onward.

I had a co-writer Ashley Wren Collins. We had many interviews with all the guys that are living. She organized it. I had some suggestions for her as well, that we begin with a tale about me being busted for truancy at Hoover High School in San Diego.

We also talked with Danny Hutton, J.D. Souther, Tommy Smothers, Mark Lindsay, Bernie Leadon, Gary Puckett, Elaine “Spanky” McFarlane. Henry Diltz, Bob Stane of The Ice House, Mason Williams and Cyrus Faryar of the MFQ.

I hadn’t considered writing about myself. I was just going to cover the group. My literary agent and co-author Ashley said “you have to write about yourself.” Once I started doing that, it became sort of interesting.

Q: When the Association first formed, evolving from a group called The Men, did you know you had something special? I’m referring to the 1965-1966 period.

Arranger Clark Burroughs arrived at our house I answered, “Aren’t you the Hi, of the Hi-Lo’s?” He replied, “I have a song for you guys, ‘One Too Many Mornings.’ Clark had this interesting arrangement idea. We just started working on the tune immediately.

On “Along Comes Mary,” Jules Alexander of our band played bass on the original demo. We had a group house where four of us lived. Jules came back that night with a demo and exclaimed, “Listen to this record!” He put it on. Holy moly. What a song, it was like nothing we had ever heard. Tandyn Almer wrote it.

Later we would vote on songs but this was the only one we never voted on. We decided Jim [Yester] would sing the lead. We worked with Curt Boettcher who was a sensitive vocal arranger. Our first album we recorded with two 4-track machines in sync, to make it 8-track.

Q: I’ve always felt The Association has been vastly overlooked by the media and music historians, partly attributed to east coast media bias which dilutes the appreciation of the band’s rewarding legacy on recordings and live performances. You sold 70 million records, 6 gold records, and had 7 top 40 hit singles. 3 of your songs are the most played BMI licensed songs of the 20th century.

A: There are many people in the business who never really had the proper respect for what we did. I know the impact we had. Why are we still on radio today? We had strong material with good arrangements and those were performed well. It’s the power of real music. And the performances are so sincere and real. It’s really that simple.

Q: Let’s talk about “Windy.”

In the nineties we were doing a concert in Detroit with an orchestra. And the conductor (during a break) wanted to talk to me. “I studied conducting with Leonard Bernstein in New York, and he would greet us at the lecture room door. He had a portable record player
and played ‘Windy’ … and told the room, ‘Now that is a perfect record.’ Bernstein understood what we were doing.

Ruthann Friedman who wrote it, was a friend of ours, she gave it to us. Our manager Pat Collecchio particularly liked it, and we liked it enough to vote yes on it. We did the basic track at Western studio on Sunset Blvd. with producer Bones Howe. We’d do the music first. The vocals took a much longer time. Our tenor’s voice started wearing out. My wife Birdie, Clark Burroughs’ wife Marilyn and Ruthann all stepped in and helped. They’re on the track singing. By then we had 8-track recording.

The vocal on “Windy” was completely mine. While I was recording it occurred to me “that this track was really gonna kick ass, like the windy city of Chicago.” Larry [Ramos] had just joined the band and I said “why don’t we have Larry sing this with me?” So he came in and co-sang a lead. I also had several leads on that Insight Out album.

Initially, on “Never My Love,” it was going to be me and Terry [Kirkman] doing the leads like on “Cherish.” So I said, “Let’s have Larry sing it with Terry and it will help establish him as a new member.”

On “Everything That Touches You,” that is Terry and Jim. Great bass line. Randy Sterling came up with that. He played bass on a demo session and Joe Osborn was on the recording. Ben Benay and studio musicians on dates were all union players. I understood that these guys were used doing it on the fly, on tape. We were used to doing it live, at any size concert.

Q: Talk to me about the song “Cherish.” I saw the group early on and you could replicate harmonies on stage.

A: After we cut “Cherish” the two things people would say: Would be, “when are you going to do a live album” and ‘when are going to release “Cherish” as a single?’ That was said for a year before it was ever recorded. In fact, the first time we heard “Cherish,” the group didn’t quite understand it, and we didn’t vote yes on it. Terry went and woodshedded, and a couple of days later showed it to us again. And we all said, “Now we see what you mean!”

Q: Terry Kirkman as a tunesmith is never touted as a major songwriter in the musical press. “Cherish,” “Six Man Band,” and “Everything That Touches You.”

A: His specialty was what I call “thematic mothas,” short for mothers. “Cherish,” “Requiem for the Masses,” he did all these great themes, along with “Enter the Young.” He was influenced by Stan Kenton and jazz. He plays horn, sax. When I first met Terry, he almost always had a recorder in his belt and pockets full of harmonicas in different keys! He’d always be ready to play. Great songwriter who truly loves music.

Q: The Association was way more than a pop band.

A: It was everything. Rock ‘n’ roll, blues, folk, harmonies. It distinguished us from the psychedelic groups of the late 60s. We also had a rule in the band: No whining. We didn’t do any music that whined. Everything in our repertoire was voted on. We covered songs and also did originals. For instance on “Never My Love” that was basically already written, all we did was add some harmonies to it. As far as our vocals and harmonies, they were very precise.

Harvey Kubernik is the author of 16 books. His literary music anthology Inside Cave Hollywood: The Harvey Kubernik Music InnerViews and InterViews Collection Vol. 1, was published in December 2017, by Cave Hollywood. Kubernik’s The Doors Summer’s Gone was published by Otherworld Cottage Industries in February 2018. It was nominated for the 2019 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research.

In November 2018, Sterling/Barnes and Noble published Kubernik’s The Story of The Band From Big Pink to the Last Waltz. During 2020 Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik are writing a multiple voice narrative book on Jimi Hendrix for Sterling/Barnes and Noble.

Kubernik’s 1995 interview, Berry Gordy: A Conversation With Mr. Motown appears in The Pop, Rock & Soul Reader edited by David Brackett published in 2019 by Oxford University Press. Brackett is a Professor of Musicology in the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Canada. Harvey joined a lineup which includes LeRoi Jones, Johnny Otis, Ellen Willis, Nat Hentoff, Jerry Wexler, Jim Delehant, Ralph J. Gleason, Greil Marcus, and Cameron Crowe.

This century Kubernik wrote the liner note booklets to the CD re-releases of Carole King’s Tapestry, Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish, Elvis Presley The ’68 Comeback Special and The Ramones’ End of the Century.

In 2020 Harvey Kubernik served as Consultant on a new 2-part documentary Laurel Canyon: A Place In Time. Alison Ellwood is the director who helmed the History of the Eagles.

It had a world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. EPIX network broadcast it in two parts, on Sunday, May 31st, and June 7th.






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