It's always difficult to pinpoint the birth of a dream, particularly one in so fluid and transitory a realm as the music industry. From their earliest years through the present day, both Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss, the founders of A&M Records, were listeners -- and dreamers.
Jerome Sheldon Moss was born in 1935, the second son of Irving and Rose Moss, and lived in a small apartment in the West Bronx. He earned his B.A. at Brooklyn College, and after a stint in the Army, Jerry landed his first job as a record promotion man in 1958. His first assignment was to encourage local Philadelphia DJ's to spin Coed Records' latest release, "Sixteen Candles," by the Crests. The record hit No. 2, with no small thanks to the single- minded efforts of the 23-year-old Moss. In time, he set his sights on Southern California, which symbolized for him golden opportunity.
Herb Alpert, the second son of Louis and Tillie Alpert was also born in 1935, in Los Angeles. Music was the primary source of recreation for the family, and by age eight, Herb had taken up the trumpet. As a teen, Herb's enthusiasm for jazz superseded his loyalty to classical music training, and by age 15 he'd formed a jazz trio, which consistently won a local amateur talent TV program competition. Herb frequented bistros on the L.A. jazz circuit while a music major at USC, and when he enlisted in the Army, his horn went along with him. He spent nearly two years playing solo trumpet with the 6th Army Band at The Presidio in San Francisco.
After his Army discharge, Herb met Lou Adler. The pair embarked on a songwriting career, and managed to get a few songs cut by artists like the Salamas Brothers, Sam Butera, and, most notably, Sam Cooke, with whom they co-wrote the classic, "Wonderful World." Before Herb and Lou went their separate ways, they produced such rock and roll classics as "Baby Talk" by Jan and Dean and "Alley Oop" by Dante and the Evergreens.
By 1960, Jerry Moss had arrived in L.A. with $300 in his pocket. He found work as a promotion man, and would bump into Herb at local L.A. music haunts. The two solidified their acquaintanceship with evenings of shop talk and good cheer in the piano bars. Occasionally, Herb would bring his horn along and jam with the saloon keyboardists. Jerry was impressed with Herb's musicianship and suggested the two form a partnership. They called their company Carnival Records, and in July of 1962, they released a single, "Tell It To The Birds," a vocal by Herb Alpert, under the pseudonym, Dore Alpert.
Based in Herb's converted garage/office, they began working on a song called, "Twinkle Star," a catchy melody by Sol Lake. Herb layered horn parts to spice the arrangement into an inspired quasi-Mariachi meld and Jerry tagged Herb's unique and infectious sound, "The Tijuana Brass featuring Herb Alpert." The song was re-named "The Lonely Bull," and in the summer of 1962 it was ready for release. The Carnival name was dropped because of prior usage, and for Herb and Jerry, no corporate name made more sense than the simple initials that announced the partners' bond: A&M. "The Lonely Bull" became a smash hit, selling over 700,000 units, and one of pop music's most remarkable teams was well on its way.
Herb and the TJB, with hits like "The Mexican Shuffle," "Tijuana Taxi," and "A Taste Of Honey," outsold the Beatles two-to-one. Albums like "Whipped Cream And Other Delights," were among the most popular of the mid-60's. The label's roster, also consisting of the Baja Marimba Band, Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66, We Five, Chris Montez, Burt Bacharach and others climbed the charts. During the late 60's pop music revolution, A&M kept pace with signings such as Procol Harum, Fairport Convention and Jimmy Cliff. When Jerry attended Woodstock in 1969, he saw and signed an ex-pipefitter from Sheffield, England bring down the house. His name was Joe Cocker. In the 70's, Lou Adler renewed his partnership with Herb Alpert by launching the A&M- distributed Ode Records, which brought forth one of the most successful albums in history, Carole King's "Tapestry." Other musical phenomena Herb and Jerry brought to light were the Carpenters and Peter Frampton, whose 1976 "Frampton Comes Alive" also became one of the biggest-selling LPs of all time. Supertramp, Styx, and the Police were among the label's other triumphs of the 70's. In the 80's A&M enjoyed major success with artists like Sting, Janet Jackson, Jeffrey Osborne, Bryan Adams, Suzanne Vega, and Amy Grant, but Herb Alpert sped past the in- house competition with one of his biggest solo successes: the vast-selling No. 1 smash, "Rise," bringing the world-wide sales of his illustrious career, spanning over 3 decades, to 72 million records. In the 90's, the enthusiasm continued with hits by Extreme, Amy Grant, Aaron Neville, Bryan Adams, Sting, CeCe Peniston, and Blues Traveler.
For its founders, the A&M workday was never done. Each were equally appreciative of the efforts and friendship of the other. Says Herb, "Jerry was able to take 'The Lonely Bull' and turn it into what we have today. And to remain with a good feeling after 25 years is quite a tribute to this guy. I couldn't ask for anything more from our partnership." Adds Jerry, "Herb has given me a meaningful life. His support has made me what I am today." A&M Records, now operating as part of the worldwide PolyGram group, remains one of the music industry's most forward-looking companies, thanks to the early vision still shared by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss.
In 1994, the year after their departure from A&M, Alpert and Moss formed Almo Sounds - a small boutique label whose first recordings were released in mid-1995 through Geffen Records. Almo Sounds is located in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and London. By 1996, new artists included The Rakes Progress, Gillian Welch, and Garbage. Herb Alpert's first Almo Sounds album, "Second Wind," was released in April, 1996 and "Passion Dance" in 1997.
Copyright © 1996 Almo Sounds, Inc.
1957 Herb Alpert teams with Lou Adler, another "up-and-comer" in the Los Angeles pop music community, as a songwriting team and understudy producers for Keen Records.
Alpert and Adler produce Jan & Dean's "Baby Talk." The record hits the Top 10.
Alpert and Adler produce the single, "Love, Love, Love," for Lou Rawls and then team with Sam Cooke to write the pop standard, "Wonderful World." Cooke's version of the song reaches the Top 20, as do subsequent cover versions by Herman's Hermits and Art Garfunkel.
Alpert and Adler also produce another Top 20 hit that year: Dante & The Evergreens' "Alley-Oop."
Herb co-produces 3 singles for A&M: "I'm Just a Country Boy," by George McCurn, "Little White Lies," by the Kenjolars and "The French Song," by Lucille Starr.
Herb produces the hit single, "Comin' in the Back Door," by the Baja Marimba Band and the first "Baja Marimba Band" album soon follows.
In December, Herb and A&M receive their first two gold albums for, "Whipped Cream And Other Delights" and "Going Places." By the end of the year, "Whipped Cream And Other Delights" is the No. 1 album in the country and "Going Places" is No. 4 on its way to No. 1. Both albums remain on the chart for more than three years, as does the 1964 Tijuana Brass release, "South Of The Border."
Herb co-produces two Baja Marimba Band albums, "Baja Marimba Band Rides Again," and "For Animals Only."
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass hold down the No. 1 spot on Billboard's pop album chart for a total of 18 weeks during 1966, more than any other act that year. For 4 of the 18 weeks, the Brass has both the No. 1 and No. 2 albums. Runners-up: The Beatles, who occupy the top spot for 17 weeks.
In April, the Brass have four albums in the Top 10 simultaneously. It remains the greatest domination of the Top 10 since the mono and stereo album charts were combined in 1963.
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass are cited in the Guinness Book of World Records for having five albums in the Top 20 simultaneously, a feat unequalled in recording history.
The Brass', "What Now My Love," album is released in May and hits No. 1 in just three weeks. The album holds the top spot for nine weeks, longer than any other album that year. The album is certified gold on May 9, along with three other albums by Alpert and the Brass. Herb wins four Grammy Awards for "A Taste Of Honey." Record of the Year, Best Instrumental Performance, Best Instrumental Arrangement and Best Engineered Recording. Herb is also nominated for Album of the Year for "Whipped Cream And Other Delights." The National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) singles out "Whipped Cream And Other Delights" as the best-selling album of 1965.
Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss buy the Charlie Chaplin Studios in Hollywood from CBS as A&M Records' new home. The album, "S.R.O." is released.
Herb produces the album "Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66" and co-produces "Watch Out" by Baja Marimba Band.
Alpert also co-produces 3 singles for Chris Montez, "The More I See You," "Call Me" and "Hey Baby." Herb Alpert pioneers a new concept in the music world. He is the first artist to take his group on the road with his own complete sound system.
Herb Alpert has six Top 30 singles this year alone. Among them: title songs from the films "Zorba The Greek" and "Mame," and the peppy instrumental "Spanish Flea," which later gains fame as the theme from "The Dating Game."
Billboard magazine names Herb Alpert "Record Man Of The Year."
Alpert and the Brass have three of the top five albums on Billboard's year-end chart recap. "Whipped Cream And Other Delights" is No. 1, "Going Places" is No. 3 and "What Now My Love" is No. 5.
Final tally for 1966: Herb Alpert sold 13.7 million albums in a 12-month period, an unprecedented achievement.
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass' first TV special, by the same name, is nominated for three Emmy Awards, including outstanding musical or variety program. Gary Smith and Dwight Hemion produced the stylish CBS special, which Hemion also directed.
Herb Alpert is nominated for four Grammy Awards for "What Now My Love" including Album and Record of the year. He wins two: Best Instrumental Performance and Best Instrumental Arrangement.
Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass land their fourth No. 1 album with, "Sounds Like... ," which zooms into the top spot in just three weeks. The album's big hit is "Casino Royale," the title song from the James Bond spoof. The album also features, "Wade In The Water," a Top 40 hit. "Herb Alpert's Ninth," is certified gold in December. It's Alpert's third gold album of the year, following, "S.R.O," and, "Sounds Like...."
Herb receives Top Album Artist Award from Billboard magazine.
For the second year in a row, Herb and the Brass have three Top 10 albums on Billboard's year-end chart re-cap. Herb produces another single for Chris Montez, "Because of You," and co-produces two Baja Marimba Band albums, "Heads Up" and "Fowl Play" and the second Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 album, "Equinox."
Alpert hosts an evening of A&M artists on the popular ABC variety show, "Hollywood Palace." Alpert wins two awards in Playboy's Annual Jazz & Pop Poll: Best Instrumental Combo and Best Small Combo LP (for S.R.O.).
Alpert is nominated for a Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance for "Casino Royale." "Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Christmas Album," hits No. 1 on Billboard's seasonal list of top Christmas albums. The album is certified gold in December and spawns a hit single, "My Favorite Things."
Herb co-produces the "Look Around" album by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 and produces Pete Jolly's first A&M album, "Herb Alpert presents Pete Jolly."
"The Brass are Comin'," Herb's third TV special airs. It is also the title of the group's last album of the 60's and his 12th album in a row to reach the Top 30.
Buoyed by the success of "This Guy's in Love With You," Herb releases another vocal track, "Without Her," from his just released "Warm" album. The Harry Nilsson ballad spends six weeks on the charts.
Herb co-produces the album "Give a Damn" by Pete Jolly.
Alpert wins three awards in Playboy's Jazz & Pop Poll: Best Trumpet, Best Instrumental Combo and Best Small Combo LP (for "The Beat Of The Brass").
Herb co-produces the Waylon Jennings album, "Don't Think Twice" and the "Crystal Illusions" album by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66.
Alpert's heart-felt composition, "Jerusalem," from his soon to be released album, "Summertime," hits the Top 10 on the Easy Listening Chart and also crosses over to the Pop Chart. He wrote the haunting song on a 1969 visit to the Holy City.
Herb releases his first Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass "Greatest Hits" album and also co-produces the first, "Baja Marimba Band Greatest Hits," album.
Alpert gives the Carpenters the lead sheet of an old Burt Bacharach-Hal David song, "Close To You," which he thinks would be perfect for them. The song hits No. 1 in just six weeks and is the first of 16 consecutive Top 20 hits for the duo. Alpert wins the Playboy Jazz & Pop Poll for Best Trumpet. Herb co-produces the album, "Stillness," by Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66.
Alpert wins the Playboy Jazz & Pop Poll for Best Trumpet.
Herb produces the album "Seasons" by Pete Jolly. Herb goes to Paris to produce Michel Colombier's innovative, symphonic/rock album, "Wings" with the Paris Symphony Orchestra.
Alpert returns to Paris later in the year to produce Bill Medley's album, "A Song For You."
Herb releases the "Solid Brass" album.
Herb produces Lani Hall's first solo album, "Sundown Lady."
Herb gives a free concert at Camp Pendleton for thousands of Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees.
Herb produces the albums, "Sweetbird," by Lani Hall, "There's Music in the Air," by South African singer, Letta Mbulu and "Caliente," by jazz tenor saxophonist, Gato Barbieri.
The album, "Herb Alpert & The TJB - Greatest Hits Vol. 2" is released.
Herb produces the album "Ruby, Ruby" by Gato Barbieri.
Later this year another Herb and Hugh album is released, "Main Event Live."
Herb co-produces the album, "Letta," by South African singer, Letta Mbulu.
Herb produces percussionist Manolo Badrena's album, "Manolo" and co-produces Lani Hall's album, "Double or Nothing".
The album "Beyond" is released.
Herb Alpert releases, "Blow Your Own Horn." The album spawns two chart singles, "Garden Party" and "Red Hot."
1984 Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass release their first album in nine years, "Bullish." The title song spends 10 weeks on the R&B chart and also hits the Pop chart. The group also tours for the first time in more than a decade, playing such key venues as the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Herb and his wife, singer Lani Hall, perform the Oscar-nominated song, "Maniac," from the "Bullish" album, re-arranged by Alpert, on the 56th annual Academy Awards telecast, beamed to a worldwide television audience of 240 million.
The album "Blow Your Own Horn" is nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Herb co-produces the title song for the James Bond movie "Never Say Never Again," sung by Lani Hall.
Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss receive the "Spirit of Life Award" from the City of Hope and establish a Research Fellowship at the City of Hope National Medical Center and Beckman Research Institute.
Herb's trend-setting video for, "Keep Your Eye On Me," is one of the first to use Sony's high-definition system. A&M releases a special limited edition CD series to celebrate their 25th anniversary. The first of the series is, "Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass - Classics Vol. 20."
Herb Alpert is the United Nations Day Chairperson for the City of Los Angeles, in recognition of his humanitarian efforts.
Herb receives two Grammy nominations: Best Pop Instrumental Performance "Keep Your Eye On Me" and Best R&B Instrumental Performance "Diamonds".
The album "Under a Spanish Moon" is released and Herb performs across the U.S. with major-city symphony orchestras, concluding with two sold-out performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. Guest vocalist is Lani Hall.
Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss receive commendation from the City of Los Angeles, in recognition of their generosity and unfailing support of the Los Angeles Free Clinic.
Herb is named Spokesperson for the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. He appears in national public service televisions spots for the organization, and hosts their annual performance at The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
Herb produces jazz giant Stan Getz' first A&M album, "Apasionado."
Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss sell A&M Records to PolyGram. At the time of the sale, A&M was the largest independently-owned record company in the world. Herb and Jerry continue as Vice-Chairman and Chairman respectively.
Herb participates in the Audubon Society's environmental video of Marvin Gaye's, "Mercy, Mercy Me, the Ecology." Herb co-produces the Eduardo del Barrio album, "Free Play."
Herb, along with Eduardo del Barrio, composes and records "The Theme for the Special Olympics (Open Your Arms to the World)" with lyrics by Hal David - and performs it with 100 high school trumpeters in the ABC network telecast. The International Society of Performing Arts Administrators presents Herb with its Ambassador Foundation International Award in recognition of his contribution of talent, artistry, dedication, and service to the performing arts.
Herb Alpert is honored for his contributions to Cities in Schools, Inc. as Co-Chair of the Entertainment Industry's Foundation for Cities in School, along with the Honorable Richard Lugar and the Honorable Robert Graham, at a ceremony in the Senate Caucus Room in Washington, D.C.
1992 The single "North On South St.," written by Herb Alpert and Greg Smith, is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition.
Herb co-produces the Broadway musical "Jelly's Last Jam," starring Gregory Hines with book and direction by George C. Wolfe. Within two weeks of opening, the musical receives 11 Drama Desk nominations and 11 Tony Award nominations (2 more than any other show on Broadway that season). Ultimately the musical goes on to win 3 Tony Awards, 6 Drama Desk Awards, the Clarence Derwent Award for Best New Actress (Tonya Pinkins), the Fred Astaire Award for Best Dancer on Broadway (Gregory Hines), 2 American Theatre Wing Design Awards, Best Costume Design and Best Lighting Design and the Joe A. Callaway Award for Outstanding Achievement in Direction/Choreography.
Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss relinquish their executive roles at A&M Records, the label they founded in 1962, in order to pursue a variety of other business, philanthropic and creative interests, among them, the ownership of their successful worldwide music publishing enterprise, Rondor Music International. Herb's colorful and expressive paintings are exhibited across Europe. Herb's canvases are shown at the Galérie Frank Hänel in Frankfurt, at the Frankfurt Art Fair, the Basel Art Fair, Galérie Frank Hänel in Berlin, and at Galérie Van Der Planken in Antwerp.
Herb co-produces the Broadway smash hit "Angels in America: Millennium Approaches." The play opens to rave reviews and receives 19 nominations, including 9 Tony nominations (more than any play in Broadway History), and is honored with 16 Awards including the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 4 Tony Awards, including Best Play, and 5 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding New Play.
Herb Alpert's one-man exhibit, "Rhythm Paintings," opens at the Caesarea Gallery in Boca Raton, Florida.
Herb co-produces the world premiere of Arthur Miller's "Broken Glass." The show opens on Broadway that April. "Broken Glass" receives both the Tony and Outer Critics Circle nominations for Best Play. The show is also honored by Amy Irving's Outer Critics nomination for Best Actress, and in a subsequent production, receives the coveted Olivier Award in London.
Herb's second one-man show at the Wenger Gallery opens in Santa Monica. Concurrently, the show is expanded and exhibited at the Hotel Nikko Beverly Hills.
The University of Southern California bestows its highest honor upon Herb in presenting him with its Asa V. Call Achievement Award for the honor that his personal achievements and philanthropy have brought the university.
In celebration of Black Music Month, Herb receives the Notable Achievement Award, for his special contributions to the music industry, during the fourth annual "Celebrate the Soul of American Music" television special.
With partner Jerry Moss, Herb launches the record label Almo Sounds, distributed by Geffen Records.