Thursday, August 2, 2012

40 Year Itch: Death of an Associate

                                                    Brian Cole and son


No cheating: name the band who opened the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival at the dawning of the Summer of Love?

The answer is The Association. The band sold 15 million records in the 60's but if you've only heard their biggest hits "Cherish" (#1, 1966) , "Windy" (#1, 1967) and "Never My Love" (#2, 1967) you might have mistakenly crossed them off as purveyors of bland soft pop.

Yes, there was some of that but The Association also hit the charts with the catchy "Along Comes Mary" ( with the baffling line "Now my empty cup is as sweet as the punch") and later took a shot at progessive rock on albums that deserve to be heard again. The track below comes from Waterbeds in Trinidad produced by the same guy who worked on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks.

 The man singing this John Stewart composition, "Little Road And A Stone" ,was there from the start: Tacoma native Brian Cole, who was both the bass player and the most rocking of the Association's vocalists.

But tragically, just as the band prepared to go on tour in support of Waterbeds, 29 year old Brian was discovered dead of a heroin overdose in his Hollywood home on August 2, 1972. He left behind three children .

Those children would probably most want him remembered by this humorous Smothers Brothers clip in which he introduces the band.


  1. Thank you for remembering Brian.

  2. they were a great group, lots of solid pop hits!

  3. Just happened across this, but have to say that Brian was a friend of mine when I was growing up in Portland - a sort of big brother, who hung around down in the park in the days before leaving for California and founding what would become the Association.
    Also have to point out that the two photos here are both mine: The one at the very top was taken backstage, one Brian requested of he and his son Jordan, who now plays with the band. The other, of Brian and Ted, was shot from backstage at what was then the Civic Auditorium in Portland, Oregon around 1971.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Great insight. And thanks for allowing me to keep the pictures posted.

  4. Thank you for this poignant recollection. I was but a "teeny-bopper" when I saw the group at Tanglewood in Lenox, MA in '68. Russ had just got a buzz cut hair treatment, and at some point, Ted fell off his drum seat. Otherwise, a great set, which solidified my interest in the Association.

  5. Great post. Brian Cole’s death just broke my heart. Such a great group, and man. Thanks!