The White Plains Examiner

Along Comes ’60s Hit Makers The Association at Peekskill’s Paramount

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The Association, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, will be in concert this Friday night at Paramount Hudson Valley in Peekskill.
The Association, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, will be in concert this Friday night at Paramount Hudson Valley in Peekskill.

By Jacob Kussmaul – 

For nearly 50 years, The Association’s unique blend of close harmonies, large-than-life production techniques and indelible hooks has helped the Los Angeles-based band sustain widespread popularity.

The Association, most remembered for crafting such classics as “Along Comes Mary,” “Never My Love” and “Windy,” is nearing the end of its 2014 tour schedule but the group’s local fans will have a chance to see them perform this Friday, Nov. 14 at Paramount Hudson Valley in Peekskill. The concert begins at 8 p.m.

Despite inevitable strife, The Association has kept an assiduous touring ethic, as well as a consistent rapport with diehard fans and newcomers.

The band’s origins date back to 1964. During this time, a musical and cultural shift had taken place in which rock music was on the verge of becoming a staple format. Furthermore, this change had solidified the notion that rock music was much bigger than a mere fad—it was here to stay.

At the forefront of the California music scene, an 11-piece, multi-instrumental vocal group, simply called “The Men,” was founded. As pioneers of the “folk rock” subgenre, this marked the first in a series of feats which would ultimately earn them an identity.

From the ashes of The Men, six members would create the foundation for a new group known as The Association the following year. Each member assumed the role of vocalist with various other duties. This lineup consisted of lead guitarist Jules Gary Alexander, bassist Brian Cole, rhythm guitarists Russ Giguere and Bob Page, percussionist Terry Kirkman and drummer Ted Bluechel. Page was replaced by Jim Yester, who, in addition to playing rhythm guitar, has served as the band’s lead vocalist until then.

In 1966, the band realized a burst of success. The single, “Along Comes Mary,” off their debut album “And Then…Along Comes the Association,” climbed the Billboard Top Ten. The band’s follow-up single, “Cherish,” from the same album, capitalized on its success and gave the band its first number one hit.

After a disappointing response to their second album “Renaissance,” there was a switch in personnel. Hawaii native singer-guitarist, Hilario “Larry” Ramos, of Filipino, Chinese and Spanish descent, served as Alexander’s replacement. At the time, the inclusion of the multiethnic Ramos was considered a daring move in the popular music scene.

In spite of this, Ramos aptly revitalized the band’s success as the lead guitarist and shared lead vocals on The Association’s next two big hits, “Never My Love” and “Windy.” However, his exposure to a broader audience wasn’t embraced immediately. In an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Guy Aoki, one of his frequent interviewers, recalled instances of alleged racial discrimination.

“Ramos was subjected to racial barbs … and he had to confront suspicious whites when groups toured the South,” Aoki was quoted as saying.

As an Asian-American, Ramos broke down cultural barriers, and “…helped pave the way for future stars like Don Ho, Yvonne Elliman, Far East Movement and Bruno Mars,” Aoki said.

Although he had rejoined the band in recent years, Ramos decided to retire after being diagnosed with metastatic melanoma last year. He died on April 30 at 72. In light of his passing, Tracy, his daughter, revisited a conversation they had during his illness in a touching Facebook post:

“I said, ‘Well, Daddy, it looks like we’re going to have to finish your bucket list, what it is you still want to do?’ He simply said, ‘Nothing honey, I’ve done it all.’”

Larry’s brother, Del, has taken his place, and will continue to carry on his legacy.

Tickets for The Association’s concert at Paramount Hudson Valley, located at 1008 Brown St., are $30 for upper mezzanine, $35 for front mezzanine and $45 for orchestra seating, and must be picked up at the door. For more information, call 914-739-0039 or visit

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