The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

CONCERT PREVIEW: 1960s vocal group The Association revives their gold-selling sound

1960s vocal group revives their gold-selling sound

By Brian Bingaman, bbingaman@21st-centurymedia.com, @brianbingaman on Twitter

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

They stood out, not only for their warm harmonies, but for being a six-piece rock ‘n’ roll band.

Their hits “Along Comes Mary,” “Windy” and “Cherish” earned them a spot in the historic 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, as the first group to hit the stage. However, The Association, who are also known for the songs “Never My Love” and “Everything That Touches You,” weren’t as well remembered as the fiery performances given by The Who, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix (a literal fiery performance that ended with him lighting his guitar on fire).

“Nobody knew what was gonna go down. But once it happened, everybody went: ‘Wow, that’s really special’,” said guitarist/vocalist Jim Yester, who along with founding member Jules Alexander, is one of two original members of The Association that still perform with the band.

“He used to go by Gary Alexander because he grew up in Tennessee and he was a little leery of going by the name Jules,” Yester said.

Between 1967 and 1968 the group was nominated for seven Grammy Awards. They received a Golden Globe nomination in 1970 for Best Original Song for the song “Goodbye Columbus” (from the film of the same name) and were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.

These days, when The Association hits the stage, “people are eating it up,” he said, of a set with all the hits, that delves into album cuts, and features a tribute to The Mamas & the Papas — “because we were so close with them,” a different arrangement of The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee” and a parody of an Eagles song.

A 3 p.m. matinee show on Feb. 18 at Sellersville Theater is sold out, but tickets are available for an 8 p.m. show that night.

The Association’s current sextet also has Del Ramos, the brother of Association ‘60s guitarist/banjo player Larry Ramos (who died in 2014); Bruce Pictor, their drummer since 1985; keyboardist Paul Holland, who’s been a part of the band since stints in the ‘80s and ‘90s; and Jordan Cole, son of original bassist Brian Cole, who died of a heroin overdose in 1972.

“Everybody was experimenting with different things. Unfortunately Brian went too far and got into heavier stuff. We tried to get him off it. He would roll up his sleeve and say: ‘See? no track marks.’ Here he was shooting it in his ankles,” said Yester. “We were hippie freaks like everybody else, but we were really conservative about our image. We broke down a lot of doors. We were the first rock group at to play at ... the Greek Theater ... the Coconut Grove ...”

Except for a breakup spanning 1978 into 1979, the group has existed in one form or another, where members have come, gone and come again. In the ‘70s, Curb Records founder Mike Curb had an eye on putting out a disco rearrangement of “Cherish.” The band recorded it (plus a disco remake of the Yester composition and Association hit single in the Philippines “No Fair at All”), but it was never released. “It was a really good recording. It might find the light of day someday,” according to Yester

He said The Association tried to expand their range, starting in the late ‘60s, by trying reggae, country and hard rock, but radio program directors were only interested in hearing more romantic pop songs from the group.