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Famous Like Me > Composer > A > Herb Alpert

Profile of Herb Alpert on Famous Like Me

Name: Herb Alpert  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 31st March 1935
Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Herb Alpert (born March 31, 1935 in Los Angeles, California) is a Jewish-American musician most associated with the Tijuana Brass, a now-defunct brass band of which he was leader. He is also famous as a recording industry executive — he is the "A" of A&M Records.

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass' debut album, The Lonely Bull.  A&M, 1962

Early life and career

He began trumpet lessons at about the age of 8 and played at dances as a teenager. After graduating from Fairfax High School in 1955, he joined the U.S. Army and frequently performed at military ceremonies. After his service to the Army, he tried his hand at acting, but decided to pursue a career in music. While attending the University of Southern California in the 1950s, he was a member of the USC Trojan Marching Band for 2 years.

At the dawn of his music career, Alpert co-wrote (along with Lou Adler) early rock and roll hits such as "Wonderful World" and "Only Sixteen".

His recording career began at RCA under the name of Dore Alpert. He also produced Dante & the Evergreens hit "Alley Oop" and Jan & Dean. In 1962, Alpert and his business partner Jerry Moss founded their record label, A&M Records.

The Tijuana Brass Years

Shortly after A&M's founding, Alpert formed a new group, one with a Latin flavor: the Tijuana Brass. In 1962, Alpert and the Brass released their debut album, The Lonely Bull (the title cut became a Top Ten hit). This was literally A&M's first album (the original number was 101), and was recorded in a converted garage. It was Alpert's groundbreaking musical flavor created by this album that catapulted Latino-style pop into the public eye.

The Tijuana Brass's success helped spawn other Latin acts, notably Julius Wechter (initially a session player in The Lonely Bull) and his Baja Marimba Band. Ironically, no one in Alpert's band (or Wechter's either) was actually Hispanic. Alpert used to tell his audiences that his group (as of the late 60s) consisted of "Three pastramis, two bagels, and an American cheese": John Pisano (electric guitar); Lou Pagani (piano); Nick Ceroli (drums); Pat Senatore (bass guitar); Tonni Kalash (trumpet); Herb Alpert (trumpet and vocal); Bob Edmondson (trombone).

Subsequent albums followed the tradition of the first, Whipped Cream and Other Delights, for example. The album cover of Whipped Cream featured a seductive-looking young woman (Dolores Erickson) wearing a generous quantity of whipped cream... and apparently nothing else. In concerts, when about to play the song, Alpert would tell the audience, "Sorry, we can't play the cover for you!" The famous cover was eventually parodied by the alternative group Soul Asylum.

Other albums followed, such as S.R.O., and even a brassy interpretation of classical music, Herb Alpert's Ninth.

But it was 1965's Going Places that really propelled Alpert and the Brass to stardom. The seminal album, what music critics have called his greatest work, yielded the hit singles "Tijuana Taxi", "Spanish Flea", "Third Man Theme", and "Zorba the Greek".

Much of the music from Whipped Cream and Going Places received a great deal of airplay, and still do at least on the Game Show Network due to their frequent use in The Dating Game, notably Whipped Cream, Spanish Flea and Lollipops and Roses.

With the Tijuana Brass, Alpert won six Grammy awards, and of their albums fifteen have gone gold and fourteen platinum. At one point his music outsold that of The Beatles by two to one. In 1966, he was recognized (with the Brass) in the Guinness Book of World Records for having five albums in the Top 20 of the Billboard album charts simultaneously, an unprecedented feat. In April of that year, four of those albums were in the Top 10 simultaneously.

His only Number One song with the Brass was "This Guy's in Love With You", featuring a rare vocal turn by Alpert himself. Alpert's vocal skills were limited, but this song also had a limited range, and it worked for him. The song debuted in June 1968, and topped the charts for four weeks. Other artists soon covered it, a sure sign of its viability as a song.

Life after the Brass

Alpert disbanded the Brass in 1969, but released another album by the group in 1971. In 1973, with some of the original Tijuana Brass members, he added new members and called it the T.J.B. This new version of the Brass released two albums in 1974 and 1975 and toured. Alpert would reconvene the Brass in 1984 for the Bullish album and tour.

Throughout, Alpert (through his A&M label) signed artists and produced records. Among the artists he worked with personally are Chris Montez, The Carpenters, Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66, Bill Medley, Lani Hall and Janet Jackson (featured vocalist on his 1987 hit single "Diamonds").

In the 1970s, Alpert enjoyed a successful solo career, which resulted in his biggest instrumental hit, "Rise" (from the album of the same name), which went number one in October of 1979 and won a Grammy Award.

Along with A&M Records partner Jerry Moss received a Grammy Trustees Award in 1997 for their lifetime achievements in the recording industry as executives.

For his contribution to the recording industry, Herb Alpert has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6929 Hollywood Blvd. Jerry Moss also has a star on the Walk of Fame.


Currently, his creative energies are focused on abstract expressionist painting, and Broadway theater. His production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America won a Tony award.

In the 1980s he created The Herb Alpert Foundation and The Alpert Awards in the Artists with Cal State. The Foundation supports youth and arts education as well as environmental issues.

Although he has not released an album of new material since 1999's "Colours", he is very much involved in the reissue of his past albums. In 2000, Alpert bought back the rights to his music from Universal Music (current owners of A&M Records), and began remixing and remastering his albums for CD reissue. In 2005, Shout! Factory began distributing digitally remastered versions of Alpert's A&M output, including a new album consisting of unreleased material from Alpert's Tijuana Brass.

He continues to be a guest artist for friends like Gato Barbieri, Rita Coolidge, Jim Brickman, Brian Culbertson and David Lanz.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Herb Alpert