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Alpert in 1966
|Also known as||Dore Alpert, Tito Alpert|
|Born||March 31, 1935|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Trumpeter, composer, arranger, songwriter, singer, record producer, record executive, painter, sculptor|
Herb Alpert (born March 31, 1935) is an American jazz musician most associated with the group variously known as Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass, or TJB. Alpert is also a recording industry executive, the "A" of A&M Records, a recording label he and business partner Jerry Moss founded and eventually sold to PolyGram. Alpert also has created abstract expressionist paintings and sculpture over two decades, which are publicly displayed on occasion. Alpert and his wife, Lani Hall, are substantial philanthropists through the operation of the Herb Alpert Foundation.
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 has sold 72 million records worldwide. Alpert is the only recording artist to hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop chart as both a vocalist ("This Guy's in Love with You", 1968), and an instrumentalist ("Rise", 1979).
Herb Alpert was born and raised in the Boyle Heights section of Eastside Los Angeles, California, the son of Tillie (née Goldberg) and Louis Leib Alpert. His parents were Jewish emigrants to the U.S. from Radomyshl (in present-day Ukraine) and Romania.
His father, although a tailor by trade, was also a talented mandolin player. His mother taught violin at a young age. His older brother David was a talented young drummer. Herb began trumpet lessons at the age of eight and played at dances as a teenager. Acquiring an early wire recorder in high school, he experimented on this crude equipment. After graduating from Fairfax High School in 1952, he joined the United States Army and frequently performed at military ceremonies. After his service in the Army, Alpert tried his hand at acting, but eventually settled on pursuing 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 two years. In 1956, he appeared in the uncredited role as "Drummer on Mt. Sinai" in The Ten Commandments.
In 1957 Alpert teamed up with Rob Weerts, another burgeoning lyricist, as a songwriter for Keen Records. A number of songs written or co-written by Alpert during the following two years became Top 20 hits, including "Baby Talk" by Jan and Dean and "Wonderful World" by Sam Cooke. In 1960, he began his recording career as a vocalist at Dot Records under the name of Dore Alpert. "Tell It to the Birds" was recorded as the first release on the Alpert & Moss label Carnival Records. When Alpert and Moss found that there was prior usage of the Carnival name, they renamed the label A&M Records.
Alpert set up a small recording studio in his garage and had been overdubbing a tune called "Twinkle Star", written by Sol Lake, who would eventually write many of the Brass's original tunes. During a visit to Tijuana, Mexico, Alpert happened to hear a mariachi band while attending a bullfight. Following the experience, Alpert recalled that he was inspired to find a way to express musically what he felt while watching the wild responses of the crowd, and hearing the brass musicians introducing each new event with rousing fanfare. Alpert adapted the trumpet style to the tune, mixed in crowd cheers and other noises for ambience, and renamed the song "The Lonely Bull".
He personally funded the production of the record as a single, and it spread through radio DJs until it caught on and became a Top 10 hit in the Fall of 1962. He followed up quickly with his debut album, The Lonely Bull by "Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass". Originally the Tijuana Brass was just Alpert overdubbing his own trumpet, slightly out of sync. The title cut reached No. 6 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. This was A&M's first album with the original release number being #101, although it was recorded at Conway Records. For this album and subsequent releases, Alpert recorded with the group of L.A. session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew, whom he holds in high regard.
By the end of 1964, because of a growing demand for live appearances by the Tijuana Brass, Alpert auditioned and hired a team of crack session men. Alpert used to tell his audiences that his group consisted of "Four lasagnas, 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); and Bob Edmondson (trombone). The band debuted in 1965, and became one of the highest-paid acts then performing, having put together a complete revue that included choreographed moves and comic routines written by Bill ("José Jiménez") Dana.
An album or two was released each year throughout the 1960s. Alpert's band was featured in several TV specials, each one usually centered on visual interpretations of the songs from their latest album—essentially an early type of music videos later made famous by MTV. The first Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass special, sponsored by the Singer Sewing Machine Company, aired on April 24, 1967 on CBS. Alpert's style achieved enormous popularity with the national exposure The Clark Gum Company gave to one of his recordings in 1964, a Sol Lake number titled "The Mexican Shuffle" (which was retitled "The Teaberry Shuffle" for the television advertisements). 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 (although the cream on her finger was real). In concerts, when about to play the song, Alpert would tell the audience, "Sorry, we can't play the cover for you." The art was parodied by several groups including one-time A&M band Soul Asylum and by comedian Pat Cooper for his album Spaghetti Sauce and Other Delights. The singles included the title cut, "Lollipops and Roses", and "A Taste of Honey". The latter won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Going Places produced four more singles: "Tijuana Taxi", "Spanish Flea", "Third Man Theme", and "Zorba the Greek". "Tijuana Taxi" and "Spanish Flea" would be used in the 1966 Academy Award-winning animated short A Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature.
The Brass covered the Bert Kaempfert tune "Happy Trumpeter", retitling it "Magic Trumpet". Alpert's rendition contained a bar that coincided with a Schlitz beer tune, "When you're out of Schlitz, you're out of beer." ("The Maltese Melody" was another Alpert cover of a Kaempfert original.) Another commercial use was a tune called "El Garbanzo", which was featured in Sunoco ads ("They're movin', they're movin', people in the know, they're movin' to Sunoco"). In 1967, the Tijuana Brass performed the title cut to the first movie version of Casino Royale.
Many of the tracks from Whipped Cream and Going Places received a great deal of airplay; they are frequently used as incidental music on The Dating Game, notably the tracks "Whipped Cream", "Spanish Flea", and "Lollipops and Roses". Despite the popularity of his singles, Alpert's albums outsold and outperformed them on the charts. Alpert and the Tijuana Brass won six Grammy Awards. Fifteen of their albums won gold discs, and fourteen won platinum discs. From the week ending October 16, 1965 through the week ending April 29, 1967, the group had at least one album in the Top 10, marking 81 consecutive weeks. For many of these weeks, more than one album registered in the Top 10. In 1966, over 13 million Alpert recordings were sold, outselling the Beatles. That same year, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized that Alpert set a new record by placing five albums simultaneously in the Top 20 on the Billboard Pop Album chart, an accomplishment that has never been repeated. In the first week of April of that year, four of those albums were in the Top 10, simultaneously—matching a mark first set by The Kingston Trio in late 1959.
Alpert's only No. 1 single during this period, and the first No. 1 hit for his A&M label, was a solo effort: "This Guy's in Love with You" (written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David), featuring a rare vocal. Alpert sang it to his first wife in a 1968 CBS Television special titled Beat of the Brass. The sequence was filmed on the beach in Malibu. The song was not intended to be released, but after it was used in the television special, allegedly thousands of telephone calls to CBS asking about it convinced Alpert to release it as a single, two days after the show aired. Although Alpert's vocal skills and range were limited, the song's unchallenging technical demands suited him.
Alpert disbanded the Tijuana Brass in 1969, 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. Alpert reconvened a third version of the Brass in 1984, after being invited to perform for the Olympic Games athletes at the Los Angeles Summer Games. The invitation led to the Bullish album and tour.
In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Alpert enjoyed a successful solo career. In 1979, he had his biggest instrumental hit, "Rise" (from the album of the same name), which went to No. 1 in October 1979 and won a Grammy Award. It was later sampled in the 1997 No. 1 rap song, "Hypnotize" by Notorious B.I.G. "Rise" was written by Alpert's nephew, Randy "Badazz" Alpert and his friend Andy Armer. "Rise" made Alpert the only artist ever to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart with both a vocal piece and an instrumental piece. Another Randy "Badazz" Alpert / Andy Armer song, "Rotation", hit No. 30 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. The song "Route 101" off the Fandango album peaked at No. 37 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in August 1982. In 1987, Alpert branched out successfully to the R&B world with the hit album, Keep Your Eye on Me, teaming up with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on "Diamonds" and "Making Love in the Rain" featuring vocals by Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith.
He has continued to be a guest artist for artists including Gato Barbieri, Rita Coolidge, Jim Brickman, Brian Culbertson, and David Lanz, and in 1985, Alpert performed the trumpet solo on the song "Rat in Mi Kitchen" from the album of the same name by English reggae band and A&M recording artists UB40. Apart from the reissues, the Christmas Album continues to be available every year during the holiday season. On Sérgio Mendes' 2008 album Encanto, Alpert performed trumpet solos backing lead vocals by his second wife Lani Hall, a singer for Mendes in the 1960s, on the song "Dreamer". It marked the first time Alpert, Mendes, and Hall had performed together on the same song.
In 2007, Alpert and Lani Hall began performing and recording with a new band made up of Bill Cantos on keyboards, Hussain Jiffry on bass, and Michael Shapiro on drums. Eventually they signed with Concord Records and released a live album in the summer of 2009, Anything Goes, Alpert's first release of new material since 1999's Herb Alpert and Colors. They followed it up with a studio album, I Feel You, released in February 2011. Both albums feature eclectic jazz renditions of pop classics along with a handful of original compositions. In 2013, he released Steppin' Out, which won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. Next came In The Mood (2014) and Come Fly With Me (2015), which peaked at #7 on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart. Also, Alpert formed a new label called "Herb Alpert Presents" in order to release his catalog reissues and his new works. The first reissues were in November 2015 with the Tijuana Brass' Whipped Cream & Other Delights and Christmas Album. Reissues of most of the other Tijuana Brass albums came in September 2016, along with another new album Human Nature, which was nominated for a 2017 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Album. In 2017 he released Music, Vol. 1, and a second Christmas Album called The Christmas Wish, which featured elaborate arrangements with symphony orchestra and choir.
In October 2018 Alpert released Music Volume 3: Herb Alpert Reimagines the Tijuana Brass, an album featuring updated versions of 12 classic TJB songs. The majority of the tracklist was culled from the group's first seven albums. A single from the album, Wade in the Water, was released in July 2018.
From 1962 through 1992 Alpert signed artists to A&M Records and produced records. He discovered the West Coast band We Five. Among the notable artists he worked with personally are Chris Montez, The Carpenters, Sérgio Mendes and Brasil '66, Bill Medley, Lani Hall (Alpert's second and current wife), Liza Minnelli and Janet Jackson (featured vocalist on his 1987 hit single "Diamonds"). These working relationships allowed Alpert to place singles in the Top 10 in three different decades (1960s, 1970s, and 1980s).
Alpert and A&M Records partner Jerry Moss agreed in 1987 to sell A&M to PolyGram Records for a reported $500 million. Both would continue to manage the label until 1993, when they left because of frustrations with PolyGram's constant pressure to force the label to fit into its corporate culture. In 1998, Alpert and Moss sued PolyGram for breach of the integrity clause, eventually settling for an additional $200 million payment.
Alpert and Moss then expanded their Almo Sounds music publishing company to produce records as well, primarily as a vehicle for Alpert's music. Almo Sounds imitates the former company culture embraced by Alpert and Moss when they first started 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 remastering his albums for compact disc reissue. In 2005, Shout! Factory began distributing digitally remastered 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. In the spring of 2006, a remixed version of the Whipped Cream album, entitled Whipped Cream and Other Delights: Re-Whipped was released and climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart.
In 2012, Shout! Factory re-released 1982's Fandango on CD.
Alpert has a second career as an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor with group and solo exhibitions around the United States and Europe. The sculpture exhibition "Herb Alpert: Black Totems", on display at ACE Gallery, Beverly Hills, February through September 2010, brought media attention to his visual work. His 2013 exhibition in exhibition Santa Monica, California included both abstract paintings and large totemlike sculptures.
For his contribution to the recording industry, Alpert has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6929 Hollywood Blvd in 1977. Moss also has a star on the Walk of Fame. Alpert and Moss were also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 13, 2006 as non-performer lifetime achievers for their work at A&M. Alpert received the "El Premio Billboard" for his contributions to Latin music at the 1997 Billboard Latin Music Awards.
In the 1980s Alpert created The Herb Alpert Foundation and the Alpert Awards in the Arts with The California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). The Foundation supports youth and arts education as well as environmental issues and helps fund the PBS series Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason and later Moyers & Company. Alpert and his wife donated $30 million to University of California, Los Angeles in 2007, to form and endow the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music as part of the restructured UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture. He gave $24 million, which included $15 million from April 2008, to CalArts for its music curricula, and provided funding for the culture jamming activists The Yes Men. In 2012, the Foundation gave a grant of more than $5 million to the Harlem School of the Arts, which allowed the school to retire its debt, restore its endowment, and create a scholarship program for needy students; in 2013, the school's building was renamed the Herb Alpert Center. In 2016, his foundation also made a $10.1 million donation to Los Angeles City College that will provide all music majors at the school with a tuition-free education, beginning in fall of 2017. This was the largest gift to an individual community college in the history of Southern California, and the second-largest gift in the history of the state.
In the late 1980s, Alpert started H. Alpert and Co., a short-lived perfume company, which sold through higher-end department stores like Nordstrom. The company launched with two scents, Listen and Listen for Men. Alpert compared perfume to music, with high and low notes.
He is owner of the Vibrato Jazz Grill in the Beverly Glen area of Los Angeles.
Alpert was married to Sharon Mae Lubin from 1956 to 1971. They had two children together: daughter, Eden, and son, Dore.
Since December 1973, Alpert has been married to recording artist Lani Hall, who is one of the singers of the Sérgio Mendes band Brasil '66, and the singer of the hit "Never Say Never Again", of the James Bond movie of the same name. They have one daughter, actress Aria Alpert. As of 2019, the Alperts live on a 5.5 acres beachfront compound on the Pacific Coast Highway in West Malibu, which Herb Alpert acquired in the early 1970s.
Alpert was referenced in the first show of the fourth season of Get Smart where one of the code signals between Maxwell Smart and his contact was "Herb Alpert takes trumpet lessons from Guy Lombardo." (This was also the pivotal episode where Maxwell and 99 express their love for each other & in fact get engaged). Also, a fifth-season episode parodied the entire group as Max and 99 sought to unmask "Herb Talbot and His Tijuana Tin" as KAOS spies.
The phenomenal popularity of the Tijuana Brass in the 1960s spawned many imitation groups. TJB member and composer of Spanish Flea Julius Wechter had good success between 1962 and the mid 1970s with his Baja Marimba Band, which was under contract by A&M. On the other side there were cheaply produced "drugstore records" by acts such as the Mexicali Brass, Mariachi Brass, Guadalajara Brass, Bullfight Brass, Pert Lapert and his Iguana Brass, and others. There were also several comic parodies, e. g. by the Frivolous Five's "Sour Cream and Other Delights", Bob Booker and George Foster's production "Al Tijuana and His Jewish Brass", and David Seville and the Chipmunks' "Sorry About That, Herb!"
In the music video for Jeff Beck's 1985 single "Ambitious," directed by Jim Yukich, which depicts an array of real-life celebrities and lookalikes auditioning to perform with Beck, Alpert appears at the very end, rushing to the casting director's table and asking, "Am I too late?"
|Year||Single (A-side, B-side)
Both sides from same album except where indicated
|1962||"The Lonely Bull"
b/w "Acapulco 1922"
|6||22||1||The Lonely Bull|
|1963||"Marching Thru Madrid" /||96||42||Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass Volume 2|
|"Struttin' With Maria"||102||The Lonely Bull|
b/w "Let It Be Me" (from The Lonely Bull)
|Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass Volume 2|
b/w "Spanish Harlem"
|1964||"Mexican Drummer Man"
b/w "The Great Manolete (La Virgen de la Macarena)" (from Volume 2)
|"The Mexican Shuffle"
b/w "Numero Cinco"
|85||19||36||South of the Border|
b/w "All My Loving"
|"South of the Border"
b/w "Up Cherry Street"
b/w "Las Mananitas" (from Christmas Album)
|68||13||99||Whipped Cream & Other Delights|
b/w "El Garbanzo" (from Whipped Cream & Other Delights)
b/w "El Garbanzo"
|81||Whipped Cream & Other Delights|
|"A Taste of Honey" /||7||1||79|
|"3rd Man Theme"||47||7||90||Going Places|
|"Zorba the Greek" /||11||2||32|
|1966||"What Now My Love" /||24||2||28||What Now My Love|
|"Spanish Flea"||27||4||3||28||Going Places|
|"The Work Song"
b/w "Plucky" (from What Now My Love)
b/w "So What's New?" (from What Now My Love)
b/w "Our Day Will Come"
|1967||"Wade in the Water"
b/w "Mexican Road Race" (from S.R.O.)
b/w "The Wall Street Rag" (from S.R.O.)
b/w "Town Without Pity" (from Sounds Like...)
|32||4||51||Herb Alpert's Ninth|
|"A Banda (Ah Bahn-da)"
b/w "Miss Frenchy Brown" (from Sounds Like...)
b/w "Love So Fine"
|"Cabaret" /||72||13||99||The Beat of the Brass|
|"This Guy's in Love with You"
b/w "A Quiet Tear (Lagrima Quieta)" (from The Lonely Bull)
|"To Wait For Love"
b/w "Bud" (from Herb Alpert's Ninth)
|"My Favorite Things"
b/w "The Christmas Song"
b/w "Treasure of San Miguel" (from Sounds Like...)
|"Ob La Di Ob La Da"
b/w "Girl Talk"
b/w "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
|"You Are My Life"
b/w "Good Morning, Mr. Sunshine"
|109||34||The Brass Are Comin'|
|1970||"The Maltese Melody"
b/w "Country Lake"
b/w "Strike Up The Band"
|"The Bell That Couldn't Jingle"
b/w "Las Mananitas"
b/w "Hurt So Bad"
b/w "Montezuma's Revenge"
b/w "Zazueira" (from Warm)
|1973||"Last Tango in Paris"
b/w "Fire and Rain" (Non-album track)
|77||22||You Smile-The Song Begins|
b/w "I Can't Go on Living, Baby, Without You"
|"Save The Sunlight"
b/w "Your Smile, The Song Begins"
b/w "Legend of the One Eyed Sailor" (from You Smile-The Song Begins)
b/w "Catfish" (from Coney Island)
b/w "Carmine" (from Coney Island)
|Just You and Me|
b/w "The You in Me" (Non-album track)
|Herb Alpert / Hugh Masakela|
b/w "African Summer"
Both sides with Hugh Masekela
b/w "African Summer"
Both sides with Hugh Masakela
b/w "Keep It Going"
b/w "Interlude (For Erica)"
b/w "Reach for the Stars"
|1981||"Come What May" (with Lani Hall)
B-side by Lani Hall: "No Strings"
b/w "Fantasy Island"
b/w "You Smile, The Song Begins"
b/w "Coco Loco"
|1983||"Love Me The Way I Am"
b/w "California Blues" (from Fandango)
b/w "Oriental Eyes"
|81||14||77||Blow Your Own Horn|
|1984||"Come What May" (with Lani Hall) (re-issue)
B-side by Lani Hall: "We Could Be Flying"
b/w "Oriental Eyes" (from Blow Your Own Horn)
|"Struttin' On Five"
b/w "Blow Your Own Horn" (from Blow Your Own Horn)
b/w "Lady Love"
|"You Are The One" (with Brenda Russell)
b/w "Lady Love"
b/w "Lady Love"
|1987||"Keep Your Eye on Me"
b/w "Our Song"
|46||3||19||Keep Your Eye on Me|
|"Diamonds" (with Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith)
b/w "African Flame" (from Wild Romance)
|"Making Love in the Rain" (with Lisa Keith and Janet Jackson)
b/w "Rocket to the Moon"
b/w "African Flame" (from Wild Romance)
|1988||"I Need You"
b/w "The Lady in My Life" (Non-album track)
|Under A Spanish Moon|
|1989||"3 O'Clock Jump"
|59||My Abstract Heart|
|1991||"North on South St."
CD single with seven different versions
|40||North on South St.|
|1997||"Until We Meet Again"
(All albums are on A&M Records and are listed with the original catalog numbers (unless otherwise indicated), followed by their peak positions on the Billboard charts)
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