Vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Jim Yester is best known for his job-related with The Association, the sunshine popular music vocal group which produced such great ’60s hits as “Cherish,” “Windy,” “Never my Love,” and “Along come Mary.” The first band in history to open a rock festival in ~ 1967’s Monterey popular music Festival, Yester and also The combination went on to offer over 80 million recordings, earning 6 gold records and also three platinum disks follow me the way.

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Spotlight central recently recorded up v Yester and also talked come him around his musical childhood, his climb to fame through The Association, and also what he’s been approximately these days.

Spotlight Central: You were born in Birmingham, Alabama and moved to Burbank, California once you were three years old. We recognize your dad to be a expert musician. What deserve to you tell us around him?

Jim Yester: Before we moved to California, my dad and also his sister had a music college where they taught accordion and piano. My dad likewise had a radio display — i don’t yes, really recall a totality lot about it — and also he was also only 20 hrs away from getting his advertisement pilot’s license. He gave every one of that up and also moved come L.A., however, because he wanted to get affiliated with the movie business, which the did. Friend remember that old man Wayne movie, Fort Apache? My dad was in that. That was one of the members the the tape in the scene wherein they had a run at the Fort.

 

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Spotlight Central: Was your mother musical as well?

Jim Yester: No, but after that when my dad had actually a bar and also restaurant increase in Joshua Tree, California — a piano bar v a piano and also organ — my mother would sing with him periodically at night.

 

Spotlight Central: You’ve said that, as a kid, you began in music playing the harmonica and then, later, boogie-woogie piano. What influenced you to play those instruments?

Jim Yester: Well, the harmonica was something, i guess, among my aunts or my grandmother gave me when I was six or seven. And walking come school, I simply fooled roughly with it until I learned exactly how to play the — simply straight harp, no blues harp.

And with boogie-woogie piano, I was in a falconry club once I was a teenager, from the time I was about 13 until the time I went in the military at period 22. One of the males in the falconry club was indigenous the southern Side that Chicago, and also he was a heavy duty boogie-woogie piano player.

We supplied to have our falconry society meetings in a garage in ~ this musician’s house, and also behind the garage was a music room — incidentally, this musician, whose surname was Robert Klimes, walk arranging because that a most rock bands back in the ’50s and also early ’60s, and he also did the vocal setup for “Birthday Morning” on our Birthday album.

But, anyway, the man who to be from the southern Side that Chicago would go ago to Robert Klimes’ music room after the falconry club meetings and sit there and also play piano — stuff choose Maude Lux Louis’s “Honky Tonk Train Blues,” and also music through Albert Ammons, Freddie Slack, and all those men — and also I would certainly sit there and also watch him. Then as soon as he would obtain up to acquire a beer or have a tobacco or something, I’d sit under at the piano and shot to number out what he to be doing. Eventually, i learned how to carry out it — no to the level that what he was doing — however I still acquired pretty great at play stuff favor “Down the road a Piece” and those type of things.

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Spotlight Central: We’re said the first concert you ever attended to be seeing fats Domino in Burbank, CA…

Jim Yester: Yeah, that was at the Olive Rec facility in Burbank.

 

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Spotlight Central: What various other recording artists did you gain listening come while girlfriend were cultivation up?

Jim Yester: Oh, gosh, everything. Due to the fact that my dad to be a agree musician, and my mom and also dad had actually a nice cool document collection, ns listened to a lot of of large band stuff. And also then my dad make me a pillow speak — you know, a little flat speak to walk under mine pillow in ~ night — and also I offered to hear to a radio display called Lucky Lager dance Time where they played all the access time of the day, and then they finished every night’s present with “Dream,” you know <sings> “Dream/When you feelin’ blue” — a an excellent song. And also then, later on, as soon as I was v the modern Folk Quartet, I got to song that with them, due to the fact that they did almost the same plan I listened to as a kid.

 

Spotlight Central: You mention the modern-day Folk Quartet. Together an up-and-coming musician, you were a member that your family band, The Yester Brothers, and, later, a member the the modern-day Folk Quartet. What tools did girlfriend play in this groups and what type of songs did friend play?

Jim Yester: Well, in the Yester Brothers, my brother played guitar and banjo and also I play guitar, and also the 2 of united state sang. It was kind of choose a two-person Kingston Trio or a Bud & Travis kind of thing, although we did start writing our own songs. Us both played classical guitars; we had matching Goya G-15s.

I no in the modern-day Folk Quartet, however, till ’78 once I sang with them to to fill in for Henry Diltz that was gone because that a tiny while. The group had some gigs at a club called the Pasadena ice cream House and also Henry had actually a wedding situation ago East, and also so ns filled in because that Henry. I had to find out all his parts. <Laughs> the was a trip! at the time, ns was functioning in a cryogenics laboratory so I had actually to sit there doing my occupational with an earphone native a ice recorder in one ear discovering Henry’s parts while ns worked!

And then in ’88 and also ’90 in Hawaii — I moved to Hawaii, i think, in ’86 — mine brother and also I hooked up and we gained to law a trio point with Charlie Mingus’s stepson, Rainbow Page. ~ that, we wound up placing the modern Folk Quartet back together since three of the members currently lived top top the huge island, and also then once I came over — since I had actually taken Henry’s place prior to — we started working as the MFQ in Hilo.

 

Spotlight Central: You stated that once you to be 22, you join the army where, us understand, you served in Germany v a jazz guitarist native Greenwich village and a comedian who had actually previously recorded a folk album. The three of you placed together a folk/comedy trio and also were ultimately pulled from her outfit and also sent around Germany and France to game the troops. Just how enjoyable was that experience?

Jim Yester: Oh, that was terrific because, basically, we were comment to and also reporting to civilians! friend know, us didn’t need to wear ours uniforms, and I had actually an military license, for this reason we could go come the engine pool and also check the end a car and also go wherever we were going. And then we did a couple of expanded tours and borrowed a friend’s car and also drove all over Germany and also France while we were act that.

For those gigs, i was playing guitar and banjo, due to the fact that my brother sent me a five-string banjo when he was touring with the modern Folk Quartet. And also it was an excellent fun. We took people songs and also wrote parodies around the military — prefer “Puff the Magic Dragon” ended up being “Yuck, the love husband Wagon,” and also “Hush small Baby, don’t You Cry” became “Hush little Lifer, don’t You Cry.”

We had actually a really an excellent polished show, so once we sent a tape of united state off come the entertainment manager in Nuremberg, that freaked and also got us pulled out of ours outfit and sent us anywhere Germany and France to game the troops. We additionally participated in the All-Army entertainment Contest and made it every the way to the All-Europe level, where we came in 2nd place. The winners saw the states for a week to perform a show, yet we went on a 30-day road present all over Germany, so ns think we acquired the much better end that the deal!

 

Spotlight Central: Sounds choose it! and also when you returned house from the Army, friend auditioned at The Ice home where girlfriend were put in touch with some musicians who were obtaining a band together. This musicians contained Jules Alexander and Terry Kirkman, who had actually been a part of a 13-member folk-rock group at The Troubadour dubbed The Men, however left to begin a brand-new group referred to as The Aristocrats.

Jim Yester: Basically, yes, that’s exactly how it happened. One afternoon during a meeting for The Men, there to be a huge blow-up and also six the the males — the core members of the team — left to walk to terrycloth Kirkman’s house and start a more modern-day group, instead of the folk-rock ingredient they to be doing. They to be gonna call themselves The Aristocrats — since there was a devastating old show-biz joke referred to as “The Aristocrats” — and also Terry’s girlfriend Judy was looking up words “aristocrats” in the dictionary and she came across the word “association,” i m sorry is “a group of people united towards a typical goal.” once they experienced that, castle said, “Oh, well, yes — that’s what that gotta be.”

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Spotlight Central: We’re called you and also the members that The association rehearsed for six months before even play your an initial gig.

Jim Yester: Eight hours, 6 days a week, working on arranging, songs, and also choreography — friend know, in situation somebody broke a string what would certainly happen, or if a guy was law a solo, he would certainly step back and hand his etc to someone else. I mean, whatever was all worked out beforehand, so as soon as we actually began working, we thought we to be pretty slick.

 

Spotlight Central: You play coffee houses, colleges, parties, and also clubs like The ice cream House and The Troubadour, yet what type of musical material were you doing as a part of your act?

Jim Yester: It was every our own material. I think the only cover song we had was our own setup of “Poison Ivy” — and also there to be one Billy Edd Wheeler tune we videotaped on our first album called “Blistered” — yet everything else to be our very own material. Girlfriend know, we had offers to play clubs and do optimal 40 however we turned them down because we said, “What we’re gonna do rather of doing peak 40 is we’re gonna perform our own stuff, and we know we’re gonna have to starve for awhile, but that’s what we desire to do,” and also in the long run, it payment off.

 

Spotlight Central: It sure did! and speaking about your own material, her bandmate, Jules Alexander, walk a demo session through Tandyn Almer and also brought ago an acetate that the demo to The association saying, “Listen come this.” The following day, the band started working on the song and also did that on phase for seven or eight months prior to recording it. The song, “Along come Mary,” came to be your an initial Top 10 hit, and also you to be the lead singer on the recording! What were her initial thoughts about it — especially with regards to the unusual melodic rhythm of the verse?

Jim Yester: Well, the male who was type of Tandyn’s partner — he functioned in conjunction through Davon Music, and Tandyn to be signed come Davon — was Curt Boettcher. He to be the producer for that session and also he had actually this actual high tenor voice and he sang the melody top top the demo. As soon as we began working ~ above the song, I had the highest voice in the group, so Jules said, “Why don’t you sing lead due to the fact that you’re quite close to where Curt sings?” so it is the method we go it.

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Spotlight Central: Did you find it difficult to sing?

Jim Yester: No, it to be cool. The only tough part, the first pair of days, to be remembering the order of the words, since there room a many words in the song!

 

Spotlight Central: That’s what we were thinking!

Jim Yester: You know, “Along come Mary” is actually an remarkable tone poem. In fact, as soon as I was doing a solo act, I provided to do that together a reading and also then follow that up by doing the song. The an initial time i did it, however, I simply did it as a analysis at The ice cream House. Mine cousin happened to be there the night, and also after i finished the reading, the lights went down and there to be dead silence. Afterwards, mine cousin claimed to me, “You understand what? ns think they were waiting for you to sing it,” for this reason I started doing that and it cleared up a many better.

Spotlight Central: Do you remember the first time you heard “Along comes Mary” ~ above the radio?

Jim Yester: I do, exactly. Us were going over the 405 Freeway heading come Santa Monica to go to this music save — ns think the was referred to as Ace Music, over in Santa Monica — and also we heard it come on the radio. Over there were 4 of united state in our drummer, Ted Bluechel’s, ’59 Chevy Impala, and we were all hanging out of the windows and also screaming and yelling <laughs> — friend know, it to be great!

 

Spotlight Central: A minute ago, you stated Curt Boettcher, who developed “Along come Mary,” and also who also produced your very first album, And Then… along Comes the Association. Is it true that the crucial tracks for that debut album were tape-recorded in somebody’s garage?

Jim Yester: Yeah. You know, the deal back then v a the majority of record service providers was, “OK, we’re gonna walk in and also record, but we’re gonna use studio musicians.” now some of united state played — choose Jules play on a most those sessions, and also a many us were affiliated with the sweetening — however the transaction was ~ above our first album, a lot of the ingredient was tape-recorded by a guy named Gary Paxton. Think around the pre-runner that The Wrecking Crew, the well-known group that West coast recording conference musicians. It turns out a the majority of the guys who worked with Paxton ended up being a part of The Wrecking Crew. So the was the deal back then. Everybody walk it due to the fact that studio time was very expensive.

For our 2nd album, we did the whole thing ourselves. In hindsight, we would probably have actually been better off using males like The Wrecking Crew or Gary’s troupe, but, girlfriend know, that a discovering experience. We were every green youngsters from anywhere California — although, originally, we come from six different states.

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Spotlight Central: Let’s talk around your very first #1 hit, “Cherish.” the was composed by your bandmate, terry Kirkman, however didn’t Jules Alexander construct the arrangements?

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Jim Yester: Yes, Jules go both the vocal arrangement and the important arrangement. Terry had the lyrics and the melody, therefore he sang the melody and also Jules placed chords to it. And then Jules, basically, would certainly line increase parts and also we’d every fit our voices in. Sometimes, we would adjust parts — and I think we in reality went v three various vocal arrangements prior to we ultimately recorded it.

But “Cherish” was not claimed to be our following single. We were gonna release “Enter the Young,” and we also re-recorded the to obtain it prepared for release. Yet a DJ in Ohio — i think his surname was Dave Reinhart — pulled “Cherish” off the album and started play it, and it went ideal to #1 in his area, so the record agency said, “Let’s re-think this. We think we need to release ‘Cherish,’” and that’s what happened.

 

Spotlight Central: What were her thoughts top top the unusual kind of that track — the truth that it has two bridges — the “I’m beginning to think that man has actually never found” bridge, i m sorry is then adhered to by the “I can say I require you and then I’d realize” bridge?

Jim Yester: A many what us were act at the time was unusual, so that was just the way it was. In various other words, due to the fact that it was our own song, it didn’t seem unusual for us.

Spotlight Central: One of our favourite Association song is “Windy,” which was a #1 hit because that the tape in 1967. Whereby did you discover that song?

Jim Yester: “Windy” was composed by a gal girlfriend of ours, Ruthann Friedman, that was a singer/songwriter who slept in our living room on the couch for a couple of main while she was searching for her own place. The common stuff she wrote was really avant-garde; we currently did among her other songs which was really lengthy and very involved, however we never finished up recording it. Ruthann went approximately San Francisco one weekend and also when she come back, she said, “I created this little contemporary thing increase in mountain Francisco, and you guys can be interested in it.” She satellite down and played it for us, and it was about a man named Windy, yet she said, “You have the right to just readjust the text to make it about a girl.”

So us played it because that our producer, skeleton Howe — since we to be just obtaining ready to walk in and also record through Bones — and also he said, “I’ve got an idea because that this. Let’s check out what wake up here.” and also he come up v a pretty damn great idea — he and Ray Pohlman, that was one of the members the The Wrecking Crew, and also who later ended up co-producing one album through us.

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Spotlight Central: A pair the brothers, Dick and Don Addrisi, composed “Never mine Love,” which visited #2 in 1967 because that you. Carry out you remind the very very first time you heard that song?

Jim Yester: Absolutely. Dick and Don to be staff authors for Valiant Records and they would come over to the residence where 4 of us lived and also where us all rehearsed. You will do it knock top top the door. We’d open up the door, and there they will do be, sitting on the porch encountering the door, and they would “row” into the house using a guitar as an oar. Then Don would sit down on a guitar amplifier, plugin his instrument, and also play the etc while they will do sing everything song they had actually just written. We had done one of their songs, “Go reprimand the Rain,” on our an initial album, and also then they composed “Never my Love” for us, therefore the first time us heard the was through Don sitting on that amplifier with the two of castle performing it because that us.

Spotlight Central: “Never mine Love” go on to it is in certified through the music licensing firm BMI together the second-most-played tune in America throughout the 20th century, didn’t it?

Jim Yester: Yes, the second-most-played track in BMI’s directory for the 20th century.

 

Spotlight Central: That’s miscellaneous you’ve acquired to be very proud of!

Jim Yester: Absolutely. And, yeah, there were a the majority of cover documents of that, i beg your pardon obviously helped. For example, The 5th Dimension had a hit v it, and Blue Swede had a hit v it, as well.

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Spotlight Central: Once The Association came to be an established group, you were presented with so plenty of potential song to record, girlfriend sometimes had actually as countless as 200 songs per day to listen to! that said, we’re called the band turned under such potential hits together “Joy to the World,” a #1 smash for 3 Dog Night; “The air That ns Breathe,” a peak 10 hit for The Hollies; and a Jimmy Webb song which to be written specifically for The Association. Phone call us much more about that details song.

Jim Yester: Bones Howe commissioned Jimmy Webb to write something for us, and also Jimmy come over at about the tenth or eleventh hour of a long vocal session. In ~ the time, us were pulling our hair out and batting our heads versus the wall, for this reason Bones said, “Ok, let’s take it a break. Jimmy’s obtained something come play for you.” Jimmy played for us a 24-minute cantata with five movements. Each movement was a song, and one of the motions was “MacArthur Park.” The deal, however, was “Take the entirety 24 minutes or nothing.”

We were halfway with the album — we had actually six song in the can currently — for this reason it to be like, “OK, whose songs are we walking to need to take off the album?” because the cantata would take up whole side of the album. Therefore after a two-hour meeting, we wound up not utilizing it. And I think that was most likely the end of our relationship with bones Howe because, i assume, he would have had actually the publishing for it.

Spotlight Central: You received a gold Globe nomination for the theme track you created for the film, Goodbye Columbus, and you likewise wrote the single, “No Fair at All.” What was your impetus for composing those songs?

Jim Yester: Well, for “Goodbye Columbus,” paramount commissioned united state to write product for the movie. Us were on the road, and we went to their workplaces in new York. They play the movie for united state without a soundtrack, i beg your pardon was really weird — choose at the large wedding scene, wherein everybody’s dancing and also the band’s playing, yes no sound; they’re all just mimicking it!

So anyway, lock said, “We desire a song below at the front, we desire a tune for the love montage, and also we desire a track for the ending as he’s walking away.” and also then castle said, “You’ve gained a week. We’ll meet with girlfriend in seven days to watch what you’ve got. Climate you’ll have, probably, another six days as soon as we’ll need the recording.” So in ~ the conference to choose the songs, they made decision my song.

Incidentally, Terry and also Jules additionally wrote a song referred to as “Goodbye Columbus,” i m sorry they later on wound up changing to “Goodbye Forever,” and also we ultimately recorded that, too.

But, that afternoon, i walked from ours hotel — which to be at sixth Ave. And 54th Street — under to Greenwich Village, and also on that walk, I created “Goodbye Columbus” in my head. Then when we had actually the 2nd meeting v them, ns played it and they said, “Yeah, we desire that for the layout song.” after ~ that, ns sat down v John Boylan, who developed all 3 songs they decided for the movie, and he had actually me play “Goodbye Columbus” over and also over saying, “OK, provide me a various chord here,” “Ok, include a chord best there.” so that’s how it happened, and it come out fantastic. I got to beat on the conference with quite a couple of members of The Wrecking Crew — ns played a large 12-string acoustic, and they adhered to me — and it turned out to be a yes, really cool recording with men like Don Randi on the piano, Jimmy Gordon top top drums, and Ray Pohlman top top bass.

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Spotlight Central: Like “Goodbye Columbus,” her song, “No Fair at All,” has a yes, really neat chord progression — it’s not the common I, IV, V chord development you so often hear in popular music music — that much an ext sophisticated.

Jim Yester: Yeah, it just kind of involved me. There to be a song called “Return come Paradise,” an old song from the ’50s — you know <sings>, “Come through me my love/Across the sea/Return to paradise,” and I simply liked the feel of it. So i was playing the guitar someday — a big 12-string — and also I began messing approximately with chord changes and it sounded kind of like that song, and I went “Oh, cool!” and also then that wound increase — through regards come the text — type of being around an almost-affair that never ever happened, friend know, but practically did? therefore that’s where that come from.

 

Spotlight Central: The Association has been roughly for end a half-century and also still performing live concerts but, lately, since the vast majority of shows have actually been postponed, what have actually you to be up to?

Jim Yester: We’re in reality doing a recording project; we’re putting songs together and working top top arrangements because that it. Jules and also I are sending out things earlier and forth. It’s mostly gonna be Jules and also myself, however Terry Kirkman’s got a most input into it, too; we asked him come be involved with it. Therefore all three of us room working top top it, plus ours guitarist Paul Holland is involved, so he’s working on stuff, too.

Most of the music sector today requires streaming — not CDs; no physical stuff. The record suppliers are moving more and much more towards the and, in fact, some don’t also make CDs anymore; because that example, we haven’t even been able to buy CDs to market at our concerts! for this reason we’re walking to start out through the streaming thing — doing the online point — and also if a record firm wants to acquire involved, climate we’ll monitor that. Yet that’s what we’re doing appropriate now and we’re having an excellent fun through it.

 

Spotlight Central: Speaking the concerts, we’ve viewed you as soon as you were component of the Happy with each other Tour and we’ve also seen The combination doing full-length performances, and also you always put on such a fantastic show. Appropriate now, however, over there are lots of fans who miss seeing you. Is over there anything you desire to say come those of united state who room looking forward to seeing and hearing you do again live?

Jim Yester: Yeah, we were having actually so lot fun with our concerts, and also everything to be riding so smoothly prior to the pandemic hit, yet what deserve to you do? you just need to ride that out, prefer everybody else does. Unfortunately, the music service will most likely be the last to obtain people ago to work, yet that’s just the means it is.

But not only do we miss out on playing, we miss out on our fans; we have such great interaction v our fans. That really funny — no only during the show, but after the show where, numerous times, we’ll carry out a meet-and-greet or sign autographs for world — and we have a great time through them.

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So, bottom line, hang in over there folks, we’ll be on the back! We’re looking front to it as lot as girlfriend are!

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To learn much more about Jim Yester and The Association, please go to theassociationwebsite.com.