It’s hard to imagine that an Asian American more than 40 years ago performed in four Billboard top 10 hits, including two #1 songs and one #2, but Larry Ramos of the folk/soft rock group The Association, actually achieved that. Ramos was a co-lead vocalist on Windy, which topped the charts four 4 weeks. He was also a co-lead on Never My Love, which was the second most played song on radio in Television in the 20th century. In this interview with Rafu Shimpo, he talks about his experiences, such as how he always had to carry a ukele with him when traveling in the US South during the 60s.
The Kauai born Ramos started out early in the entertainment business. At the age of 7, he was cast in the movie Pagan Love Song, although his scenes didn’t make it into the final release. He played the Crown Prince in the touring group of the musical The King and I after auditioning in front of Rogers and Hammerstein. After spending some time in the group the New Christy Minstrals, he joined The Association.
Why did he have to carry a ukulele when touring in the South? He explains:
“To keep from getting all kind of hassles, it was almost a thing where I carried my ukulele with me. And they would say, ‘Well, where’s he from?’ ‘He’s from Hawaii! … Leave him alone.’ Somehow, if you’re from Hawaii, you’re all right.”
I had heard both Windy and Never My Love many many times (yeah, I’m old!) , but I never knew that there was an Asian American singing on those songs. Some Asian American performers tell him that he was an inspiration for their careers:
“I know a lot of people don’t know who I was, but I’m flattered when people approach me and say that I was their inspiration for becoming a musician or entertainer.”
Ramos lives on a ranch in Idaho. Since 1984 he has co-owned the rights to the name of The Association and still tours with the group.