Born on March 31, 1935, in Los Angeles, California, Herb Alpert began his career in the music industry as a songwriter; he was born to immigrant Eastern-European Jewish parents and received classical training from Benjamin Klatzkin, a former principal trumpet for the New York Philharmonic, and was competing in local talent shows by the end of high school.
After forming A&M Records with Moss, the trumpet player enjoyed his first hit as an artist and executive with the release of “The Lonely Bull,” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
The company began in Alpert’s garage as Carnival Records, releasing two singles in 1962. After learning that another record company had “Carnival” in its name, the pair rechristened their label A&M, using the first initials of their surnames.
Alpert’s musical accomplishments include five No. 1 albums and 28 albums total on the Billboard Album chart, nine Grammy Awards, fourteen platinum albums, and fifteen gold albums.
Alpert disbanded the Tijuana Brass in 1969, and then released another album by the group in 1971. In 1973, with some of the original Tijuana Brass members and some new members, he formed a group called Herb Alpert and the T.J.B. This new version of the Brass released two albums in 1974 and 1975 and toured.
In 1965, Alpert released two albums, Whipped Cream & Other Delights and Going Places. Whipped Cream sold over 6 million copies in the United States. The album cover featured model Dolores Erickson wearing only what appeared to be whipped cream.
In reality, Erickson was wearing a white blanket over which were scattered artfully-placed daubs of shaving cream real whipped cream would have melted under the heat of the studio lights.
In concerts, when about to play the song, Alpert would tell the audience, “Sorry, we can’t play the cover for you.” In 1966, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass held down the Number One spot on Billboard’s album chart for eighteen weeks, more than any other act, including the Beatles. Alpert ultimately released more than thirty albums on A&M.
In 2000, Alpert acquired the rights to his music from Universal Music (current owners of A&M Records) in a legal settlement and began premastering his albums for compact disc reissue.
In 2005, Shout! Factory began distributing digitally premastered versions of Alpert’s A&M output. The reissues included all of the pre-1969 albums, 1979’s Rise, and also included a new album, Lost Treasures, consisting of unreleased material from Alpert’s Tijuana Brass years.
His song “1980” from his album “Rise” was slated to be the theme song for the 1980 Summer Olympic Games until President Jimmy Carter declared an American boycott of those Olympics in protest of the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan.
In 1994 Alpert and Moss started a new record label, this time with the even more imaginative title of Almo. Alpert returned to recording in the late 90s with a series of slick jazz or AOR albums.
He also exhibited his abstract expressionist paintings and co-produced a number of Broadway shows, including Angels in America and Jelly’s Last Jam. Alpert was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 and presented with the National Medal of Arts in 2013.