In May of '65 they began six months of intensive rehearsals. Their repertoire was wide and included not only folk , but some jazz and even some comedy routines.
In November, the now six-man band debuted at the Ice House in Pasadena. Early the next year, they signed with Four Star television , who were just starting there own record label, "Valient". One of the audition songs had been "Along Comes Mary", which wound up being the first single. Although it's hard to imagine now, radio stations were bombarded with calls of protest about the song , because the word "Mary" was also a slang word for marijuana. Most stations laughed off the idea and the notoriety gave the song and the band a great deal of publicity and helped put Valient Records on firm financial ground.
Terry Kirkman had been trying to write a hit song and 'cherish' seemed to be a magic word that he could build something around, although he could not get anything to come together. One night after rehearsal, he looked at a pad of song ideas and saw the word again. He sat down and completed the song in just over half an hour.
Terry auditioned the tune for some close friends. One of them secretly sent the sheet music to "The New Christy Minstrels", who started to include the song in their act, and got a standing ovation every time they performed the tune. Terry was elated, but refused to let them record what he new would be a sure fire pop hit.
The rest of "The Association" felt the song still needed a lot of work. Kirkman had conceived "Cherish" as a slow , sad song of unrequited love. The others felt it was too slow for top forty air play and re-arranged the song , speeding it up considerably.
The finished recording played for 3 minutes and 25 seconds, but the single’s label listed the time as 3:00 so that DJs wouldn’t be discouraged from playing a "long song". "Cherish" was released in August of 1966 and within two months was a million selling single. It remained at the top of the pop charts for nearly a month. Oddly, it did not do well overseas, perhaps because of poor distribution. Only when the song was re-recorded by David Cassidy in 1971, did "Cherish" become an international hit.
The Association moved to Warner Brothers records after that company bought out Valient Records in order to acquire the hot young act. Everyone involved was anxious to release their first single for the new record company, but no one could agree on what that song should be. Tension grew at Warner Brothers as a new tour was about to be launched and no decision had been made about the latest release. At the last minute, on the very morning that the band was about to leave town, the song selection was finally made..."Windy" was chosen.
A little known folk singer named Ruthann Friedman had written a song about her old man, 'Windy', and his free wheeling life style. She played the song one night for the Association and they knew they had found another hit record. And so, on the day before their tour began, arrangements for the new song were worked out over lunch. At one o'clock, the band entered the studio. The group had chosen Russ Gigeure and new member, Larry Ramos Jr. to share lead vocals, and a marathon session began. By six thirty the next morning, the two men's voices were totally shot, and for that reason, the vocals at the end of the record were performed by everyone who was still awake, including wives, girlfriends, engineers and even Ruthann Friedman herself.
"Windy" hit the top of America's pop charts in early July 1967 and remained there for nearly the entire month. Later, it was nominated for a Grammy Award as best contemporary group performance, but lost out to The Fifth Dimension's "Up, Up and Away".
In the fall of '67, The Association had another million selling record with "Never My Love" and in 1968, scored their fifth and final top ten single with a song called "Everything That Touches You".
After that, the Association's style of folk rock fell out of favour with the record buying public and they went into a fairly rapid decline. They switched labels again in 1972, to Columbia, but their only LP for them was a failure. Shortly after that release, founding member Brian Cole died and there were a flurry of personnel changes. Three comeback attempts failed, in 1973 on Mums records, 1975 on RCA and in 1981 on Elektra.
By January, 2004, the band was still playing and traveling across the US, performing with other pop and rock groups from the 60's and 70's, including Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Everly Brothers and the Kinks.
Throughout more changes, The Association continued to tour, mostly with oldies acts similar of the late 1960s, like The Grass Roots, The Buckinghams, Tommy James of Tommy James and the Shondells and Gary Puckett. During the summer of 2011, The Association appeared in a heavy touring schedule throughout the U.S. as part of the "Happy Together: 2011" tour, along with The Grass Roots, Mark Lindsay, The Buckinghams, and The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie.
The Association are fondly remembered as one of the finest pop harmony groups of their time and even though they only spent three years in the spot light, the hit records they made are enough to ensure their place in Rock and Roll history.