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July 30, 1942|
|Died||January 8, 2013
|Labels||Warner Bros.; A&M Records; Sundazed|
|Associated acts||The Association, The Beach Boys, The Garden Club, The Purple Gang, Dennis Olivieri|
Tandyn Douglas Almer (July 30, 1942 – January 8, 2013) was an American musician, composer, lyricist, and record producer. Almer wrote, co-wrote, or produced numerous songs performed by other artists in the 1960s and 1970s, including The Association, The Beach Boys, The Purple Gang, The Garden Club and Dennis Olivieri.
Almer was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Almer attended a music conservatory in Minnesota, and became fascinated with the jazz of John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Ahmad Jamal. At age 17, he quit high school and moved to Chicago, Illinois to become a jazz pianist. In the early 1960s, he relocated once more to Los Angeles, California, where his musical interests shifted to pop and rock after he became enamored of the oeuvre of Bob Dylan. During this period, he attended Los Angeles City College.
His most prominent achievement was writing the 1966 Top Ten hit "Along Comes Mary" for The Association. Claudia Ford, wife of Association producer Curt Boettcher, claimed that Almer wrote "Along Comes Mary" as a slow song. Boettcher helped Almer arrange the tune, sang the vocal on the demo and accelerated the tempo. That version, as provided to the Association, became the group's breakthrough single from their debut album, which Boettcher produced. The two also co-wrote "Message of Our Love", another song on the same album. After the success of "Along Comes Mary", Almer was featured alongside Frank Zappa, Graham Nash, Roger McGuinn, and Brian Wilson on Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution, a 1967 CBS TV News feature presented by Leonard Bernstein. Almer's sole commercial release under his own name was "Degeneration Gap", a single released by Warner Bros. in 1969.
In 1970, he produced the Dennis Olivieri album Come to the Party. While a songwriter for A&M Records in the early 1970s, he was introduced to and became friends with Wilson; in a 2010 interview, Wilson characterized Almer as his "best friend". According to musician Joseph Deaguero, who introduced Almer to Wilson, "Everyone thought he was going to be the next Dylan or Elton John. Tandyn was totally an eccentric, but he was in a league of his own. You listen to his music and say, 'God, this guy was really good.'" Although they ultimately became estranged due to a variety of factors (including Almer's alleged theft of recording equipment from Wilson's home studio and an alleged extramarital affair between Marilyn Wilson and Almer), the two collaborated in the early 1970s on several projects, including an aborted album of re-recorded Beach Boys songs with more topical lyrics for A&M Records and the Beach Boys singles "Marcella" and "Sail On, Sailor".
He moved to the Washington metropolitan area in the mid-1970s to work on a film soundtrack; after the project fell through, Almer lived there for the remainder of his life. Although he wrote songs for the annual Hexagon satirical revue and several fake books (consisting of simplified arrangements of popular songs), he mainly subsisted on "intermittent royalty checks". His bipolar disorder often resulted in "erratic mood swings" and abject insomnia; according to Thomas Bernath (a musician who befriended Almer), "He used to tell me the music got better the longer he stayed awake. He didn’t feel like playing until he had been awake for two or three days." Almer continued to record prolifically, amassing a private collection of hundreds of tapes.
Almer died on January 18, 2013, aged 70, from a combination of illnesses, including atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Shortly after, Along Comes Tandyn, an album consisting of demos of his early songs recorded by professional studio musicians, was released in 2013 on Sundazed Records. In the liner notes, Parke Puterbaugh, a former senior editor of Rolling Stone, called Almer “one of the lost and hidden voices of the '60s," adding that Almer "left behind a body of work that's ripe for rediscovery.”
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 37 - The Rubberization of Soul: The great pop music renaissance. [Part 3] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
- "Liner Notes for "And Then...Along Comes The Association"". Richieunterberger.com. 1966-09-24. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
- "Dennis Olivieri - Come To The Party (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. 2013-01-13. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
- Margolis, Jack S., and Clorfene, Richard, A Child's Garden of Grass, Ballantine Books, 1970
- "Tandyn Almer, enigmatic composer of 'Along Comes Mary,' dies at 70". The Washington Post. 2013-02-17. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
- "Tandyn Almer on Sundazed! - the Sundazed.com Store". Sundazed.com. 1967-04-25. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
- "The Psychodramas and the Traumas Gone, the Songs Are Left Unsung: Tandyn Almer, 1942-2013," career overview by Dawn Eden, January 14, 2013
- Tandyn Almer songwriting repertoire at BMI.com
- Along Comes Tandyn album at Sundazed Records
- Williams, Richard, "Tandyn Almer: Sunshine and Psychodramas," at The Blue Moment