Terry Kirkman is a musician best known as a founding member and songwriter for the American rock band The Association. Born on December 12, 1939, in Salina, Kansas, and raised in Chino, California, Kirkman has had a long and influential career in the music industry. He moved to Los Angeles in 1963 with his friend Jules Gary Alexander and briefly played in groups with Frank Zappa.
Kirkman and Alexander formed a group called the Inner Tubes—which would eventually count Cass Elliott and David Crosby among its members and also developed into a 13-piece band called the Men. After the Men dissolved in 1965, Kirkman and Alexander formed the Association with Russ Giguere, Ted Bluechel Jr., Brian Cole, and Bob Page. To find a new name, they perused a dictionary and chose “the Association” after it was suggested by Kirkman’s fiancée.
Page would soon leave the group to be replaced by Jim Yester. The group became known for intricate harmonies with multiple singers. His first hit was the blockbuster, number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and Cashbox, “Cherish”. Written by Kirkman and released by the Association in August of 1966,
the song was produced by Curt Boettcher who sang the high-pitched “told you” and “hold you” in the final verse, with the lead vocal by Kirkman. For the single released, the song was speeded up and one of the two “And I do cherish you” lines near the end were removed. This was done to hold the track to the three-minute mark, as AM radio programmers frowned on songs that went longer than that.
However, even with the edit, the song still ran over. Instead of editing further, Boettcher intentionally listed “3:00” on the label as the song’s running time. The song has been covered by around 48 artists including The Lettermen, The Four Tops, Petula Clark, David Cassidy, and Andy Williams.
The Association released their debut album, And Then… Along Comes the Association, in 1966 including “Along Comes Mary”, “Cherish”, and another Kirkman-penned song, “Enter the Young”. He also sang lead or co-lead on “Message of Our Love” and “Round Again”.
On their second LP Renaissance (1966), Kirkman wrote and sang “All Is Mine”, and co-wrote “Angeline”, “Come to Me”, and “You Hear Me Call Your Name”. Insight Out (1967) was the third album and Kirkman penned “Wasn’t It a Bit Like Now?” and “Requiem for the Masses” and sang them both. He also sang the co-lead on their number 2 hit “Never My Love”.
Their second number-one smash hit was “Windy”, written by Ruthann Friedman, and included on the Insight Out album.
For their fourth studio album, Birthday (1968), Kirkman wrote and sang “Everything That Touches You”, reaching number 10 on the charts, and “The Bus Song”. The next album was simply called The Association (1969). Again Kirman added two songs, “Look at Me, Look at You”, which he wrote and sang,
and “Boy on the Mountain” which he penned with Richard Thompson and was sung by Kirkman. On the sixth album, Stop Your Motor (1971), Kirkman added another song that he wrote with Thompson, “The First Sound” which he again sang lead. He would also sing lead on “Bring Yourself Home”, written by Ted Bluechel, and “Silver Morning” which he wrote himself.
Kirkman also wrote “That’s Racin'” that Brian Cole sang. Waterbeds in Trinidad! (1972) is the seventh studio album and ninth album overall including a greatest hits and a live album. Kirkman only added one song to this album that he both wrote and sang lead, “Come the Fall”. Kirkman would leave the band in 1972. However, he rejoined for a five-year stretch starting in 1979.
He would retire from performing after leaving the Association a second time. Kirkman went on to become an addictions counselor and spent time as the clinical director of the Musicians Assistance Program, now known as MusiCares.
Terry Kirkman died Saturday, September 23, 2023, in his home in Montclair, California of congestive heart failure following a long illness. He was 83. He is survived by his wife Heidi Berinstein Kirkman, daughter Sasha, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren.
- Musicares is a charitable organization established by the Recording Academy, the same organization responsible for the Grammy Awards. Musicares focuses on providing crucial assistance and support to individuals within the music industry who face financial, medical, and personal emergencies. This nonprofit foundation offers a wide range of services, including financial assistance for essential living expenses, medical and dental care, addiction recovery programs, and mental health support. MusiCares also hosts events and initiatives aimed at promoting the well-being of music professionals, ensuring that they have access to the resources necessary to sustain their careers and overcome life’s challenges. With its unwavering commitment to the music community, MusiCares plays a vital role in preserving and nurturing the well-being of artists and industry professionals. [Back]
- “Terry Kirkman, the Association founding member, and singer, dies at 83” (September 25, 2023) https://ew.com/music/terry-kirkman-the-association-dies-83/
- “Terry Kirkman, the Association singer and founding member, dies at 83” (Sept. 25, 2023) https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/terry-kirkman-association-singer-founding-member-dies-83-rcna117140
- “The Association’s Terry Kirkman Dies at 83” (September 25, 2023) https://pitchfork.com/news/the-association-terry-kirkman-dies-at-83/
- “Terry Kirkman, Founding Member of the Association, Dead at 83” (SEPTEMBER 24, 2023) https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/terry-kirkman-the-association-dead-obituary-1234830600/
- The Association https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Association
- MusiCares https://www.musicares.org/
- “Terry Kirkman” https://secondhandsongs.com/artist/5201/all