Russ Giguere on The Association's Unreleased 'Secret Album'

The Association Russ Giguere
Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Russ Giguere (left) and Jim Yester of Los Angeles band The Association at a recording session in New York City, circa 1965.

Now that he's shed more light on his band in his book Along Comes the Association: Beyond Folk Rock and Three-Piece Suits, co-founder Russ Giguere hopes to resurrect a little-known part of the "Windy" and "Cherish" group's history.

"There's a bunch of stuff we recorded when we first got back together that I'd like to get out," Giguere tells Billboard, referring to some early '80s sessions that followed an appearance on the HBO special Then and Now and a reunion of several of the original members. The Association did release a couple of singles for Elektra around that time -- including "Dreamer," which hit No. 66 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981 -- but Giguere insists there's more where that came from.

"I think there's about 10 or a dozen songs we did," he says. "I've managed to get five of the pieces, but we can't find all these tapes we recorded in the studio in L.A. We always called it 'the secret album.' So I'd like to get all the stuff together and release it as an album...but maybe I'll find something to do with the five that I have." And Giguere promises that while none of those songs are likely to top the charts at this point in time, they'll certainly stand up alongside the Association's legacy.

"There's some really nice stuff, just stunning stuff," he says. "I remember the first time we rehearsed, the first time we had the original band together in a room for probably eight or 10 years, it was really moving. I was in tears; it was so beautiful and powerful. It was a wonderful time."

Giguere feels that way about most of the Association's career, which began during 1964 in Los Angeles and peaked two years later with a string of hits that also included "Along Comes Mary," "Never My Love" and "Everything That Touches You." Despite its preppy attire -- "We tried to dress for success," Giguere explains -- the Association held its own at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and alongside the key rock acts of the time, such as the Who.

"When we first saw them they were opening a show and me and Terry (Kirkman) were standing at the side of a bunch of bleachers," recalls Giguere, who details the Who's equipment-destroying antics in his book. "Terry watched them finishing up and was like, 'How are we gonna follow that?' And I said, 'We do what we do, they do what they do.' We got a standing ovation and so did they, so it was great."

Giguere and co-writer Ashley Wren Collins approached Along Comes The Association in a journalistic fashion, reaching out to the other band members for their memories and incorporating writings about the group. "I just wanted to tell the truth," says Giguere, who actually started writing around the turn of the century. "I got tired of reading lies about the band, stuff people just made up. I got one book that was about various bands, including us, and there wasn't a shred of truth about the band in there. I just wanted the truth to be known."

Among Giguere's best anecdotes in the book are walking out on the Doors at the Whisky a Go Go -- "The lead singer (Jim Morrison) was so drunk he could hardly stand -- and then within six months they had a No. 1 hit!" he recalls -- and also about packing guns during some of the Association's early tours. "I carried a .38 automatic, Brian (Cole) carried a .45 and Jules (Alexander) carried a snubnose, I think," Giguere says. "That was only for about six or eight months, and then we stopped carrying. Some of the guys in the band never knew we were even carrying them. We never flashed them. They weren't for looks or macho bullshit. We carried 'cause if something went down, we were gonna come out on top."

Giguere was also around for the birth of the Eagles in 1971 as a friend of Glenn Frey and JD Souther's group Longbranch Pennywhistle. "I already knew Bernie Leadon," he notes, "and I remember Glenn introducing me to this drummer at the Troubadour bar, Don Henley, before they had a (band) name. And Don went, 'Are you with the Association?!' which was great. I got to see them play with Linda (Ronstadt) and then put their band together, and we all know what happened there."

Giguere retired from the Association in 2013, but he remains a fan of the current lineup, which includes Alexander and Jim Yester as well as the late Brian Cole's son Jordan and the late Larry Ramos' brother, Del Ramos. "I always go to see them when they play local, and I'm friends with all the guys in the band," Giguere says. "Jordan (Cole) even put some stuff in the book. I had a great time in the Association during that golden era, and I'm on great terms with everyone still. It was like a brotherhood -- some fights, like brothers do, but we were brothers and I'm happy (the group) is still out there now."


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