In 1966, the bouncy, enigmatic song became the first hit for the Association, one of the most popular bands of the era. Mr. Almer was praised as a musical mastermind who brought a fresh sophistication to the sun-dappled pop-rock of the time.
He was interviewed on national television by Leonard Bernstein, the conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and recorded an album of his own music. He became a close friend of Brian Wilson, the troubled creative force of the Beach Boys, with whom he collaborated on a couple of tunes in the 1970s.
And then he disappeared.
From time to time, people interested in the music of the 1960s wondered what had become of the young composer with so much promise. His half brother, Nicholas Minetor, recalled reading online speculation about whether Mr. Almer was still alive.
“That just tickled him to death,” Minetor said. “He liked being mysterious. And we knew he was living in a basement in Virginia.”
For the past few years, Mr. Almer had occupied an unkempt basement apartment in McLean, where he died Jan. 8. He had a combination of atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to his sister-in-law, Randi Minetor.
He was 70. Several acquaintances were surprised that he had lived that long.
For years, Mr. Almer had no health insurance. He had been a chain smoker and made no secret of a bipolar disorder, which often led to dramatic mood swings. His right leg was amputated below the knee in 2011.
He told people that he came to Washington in the mid-1970s to compose music for a movie but that the project fell through. Stranded and all but penniless, he simply stayed. He didn’t become a recluse, exactly, but the heady days when he almost became a star were long in the past.
Yet somehow, Mr. Almer was never quite forgotten. Among fans of California sunshine pop, he remains something of a cult favorite, and tributes began to appear after his death. An online disc jockey played his music for an hour. An album of 15 of his songs, recorded by a British group in the 1960s, is scheduled for release in March.
“He’s one of the lost and hidden voices of the ’60s, and he left behind a body of work that’s ripe for rediscovery,” said Parke Puterbaugh, a former senior editor of Rolling Stone who wrote the liner notes to “Along Comes Tandyn,” the album coming out on Sundazed Records. “There’s a whole catalogue of incredible songs that he wrote that no one’s ever heard.”
When Puterbaugh began working on the project about five years ago, he didn’t know whether Mr. Almer was alive or dead. He eventually found an address in Northern Virginia and wrote a letter. A few months later, his telephone rang, and Mr. Almer was on the other end.