Born on March 31, 1935, in Los Angeles, California, Herb Alpert began his career in the music industry as a songwriter. He formed A&M Records with Jerry Moss in 1962, and went on to enjoy success with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and as a solo artist. After selling A&M in the late 1980s, Alpert devoted more time to his art and philanthropy while continuing to churn out award-winning music.
Herbert Alpert was born to immigrant Eastern-European Jewish parents on March, 31, 1935, in Los Angeles, California. Growing up in a family of musicians, the shy boy picked up a trumpet for the first time at age 8. He 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.
Performer and Music Executive
After playing with a U.S. Army band, Herb Alpert went to work for Keen Records with his friend Lou Adler. They enjoyed some success as songwriters with "Baby Talk" for Jan and Dean in 1959 and "Wonderful World" for Sam Cooke in 1960.
Alpert became friends with a fellow young music executive named Jerry Moss, and the two enjoyed driving to Tijuana, Mexico, to watch bullfights. Struck by the charged atmosphere of these events, Alpert began working on a double-horned track with session musicians. 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 band's popularity skyrocketed with the release of Whipped Cream & Other Delights, an album that featured a famously provocative cover, as well as the 1965 Grammy Award-winning single "A Taste of Honey." The Tijuana Brass in 1966 sold 13.5 million albums, surpassing the Beatles' record sales, and in 1968 Alpert scored a No. 1 hit as a solo artist with a rare vocal track, "This Guy's in Love with You."
Alpert disbanded the Tijuana Brass in 1969, but A&M Records continued to thrive thanks to a roster that included Joe Cocker, Cat Stevens, the Carpenters and Peter Frampton. After performing with new iterations of the Tijuana Brass, he became the first artist to have No. 1 songs both as a vocalist and instrumentalist with his 1979 hit "Rise."
A&M Records' success continued in the 1980s via the chart-topping work of the Police, the Go-Go's and Bryan Adams, but Alpert and Moss realized their values were becoming outdated in the music industry. They sold A&M to PolyGram Records at the end of the decade for a reported $500 million.
Philanthropist and Artist
Around the time he sold his ownership in A&M, Alpert formed the Herb Alpert Foundation to provide funding for charitable organizations and institutions. Its major initiatives included the endowment of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in 2007 and the creation of an annual college scholarship program through the California State Summer School for the Arts.
Alpert devoted more time to his abstract paintings and sculptures and earned his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles in 1989. Inspired by the indigenous sculptural forms of the Pacific Northwest Indians, he erected a series of towering totem poles that were displayed in New York City and Santa Monica, California, among other locales.
Alpert was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 and presented with the National Medal of Arts in 2013. Meanwhile, he continued to perform and hone the craft that made him one of the top-selling musicians in history. Alpert's 2013 album, Steppin' Out, featuring wife Lani Hall on vocals, earned the legendary musician a 2014 Grammy Award for best pop musical instrumental album.
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