One of the most successful instrumental performers in pop history, trumpeter
was also one of the entertainment industry's shrewdest businessmen: A&M, the label he co-founded with partner
, ranks among the most prosperous artist-owned companies ever established. Born March 31, 1935, in Los Angeles,
began playing the trumpet at the age of eight. After serving in the Army, he attempted to forge an acting career, but soon returned to music, recording under the name
With Lou Adler
co-wrote a number of Sam Cooke
's most enduring hits, including "Wonderful World" and "Only Sixteen." Under the name Dante & the Evergreens
, he and Adler
also recorded a cover of the Hollywood Argyles
' "Alley Oop"; additionally, Alpert
produced tracks for the surf duo Jan & Dean
. In 1962 he teamed with Moss
to found A&M Records, scoring a Top Ten hit with the single "The Lonely Bull."
From its humble origins as a company run out of Alpert
's garage, A&M grew to become the world's biggest independent label; among its greatest successes were the Carpenters
, Cat Stevens
, Joe Cocker
, and Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
. Nevertheless, Alpert
and his backing unit, the Tijuana Brass
, remained the label's flagship act: on the strength of the hit "A Taste of Honey," his 1965 LP Whipped Cream and Other Delights
topped the charts, popularizing his Latin-influenced style (dubbed "Ameriachi"). The follow-up, 1965's Going Places
, also hit number one, launching the hit "Spanish Flea."
After 1966's What Now My Love
-- his most popular effort, remaining at number one for nine weeks -- Alpert
continued to dominate the charts with records including 1966's S.R.O.
and the following year's Sounds Like
and Herb Alpert's Ninth
. In 1968, he scored his first number one single by taking a rare vocal turn on a rendition of Burt Bacharach
's "This Guy's in Love with You"; the album Beat of the Brass
followed the hit to the top of the charts, becoming Alpert
's fifth and final number one LP.
Released in 1969, Warm
was the first of Alpert
's 11 albums not to crack the Top 20; by 1971's Summertime
, his commercial fates had fallen to the point where he no longer reached the Top 100. As A&M continued to thrive, he moved his primary focus from music to industry, although he regularly recorded throughout the early '70s; 1974's You Smile -- The Song Begins
was his most successful outing in several years, but subsequent releases like 1975's Coney Island
and 1976's Just You and Me
met with greater chart resistance.
In 1979, Alpert
staged a major comeback with Rise
; not only did the album reach the Top Ten, but the title track topped the singles charts and became the biggest hit of his career. The follow-up, 1980's Beyond
, was a Top 40 success, but subsequent efforts like 1982's Fandango
and 1985's Wild Romance
fared poorly. In 1987 Alpert
enjoyed another renaissance with the album Keep Your Eye on Me
; the lead single "Diamonds" hit the Top Five and featured a guest vocal from Janet Jackson
, one of A&M's towering successes of the late '80s. Alpert
continued recording throughout the 1990s, producing work like 1991's North on South Street
, 1992's Midnight Sun
, and 1997's Passion Dance
. After selling A&M to PolyGram in 1990 for a sum in excess of $500 million, he and Moss
founded a new label, Almo Sounds, in 1994; among the imprint's hit artists was the group Garbage
. His own albums, including 1997's Passion Dance
and 1999's Colors
, were also released on the label. Alpert
also tackled other forms of media, exhibiting his abstract expressionist paintings and co-producing a number of Broadway successes, including Angels in America
and Jelly's Last Jam
. He also established The Herb Alpert Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to establishing educational, arts, and environmental programs for children.
In 2007, Alpert
and his wife, former Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
vocalist Lani Hall, began regularly touring and recording together, releasing 2009's Anything Goes and 2011's I Feel You. The albums found the duo touching upon various aspects of their careers, including jazz standards, Brazilian and Latin music, pop songs, and reworkings of classic hits. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in 2012.
In 2013, Alpert
and Hall released the third of these albums, Steppin' Out, which also featured keyboardist Jeff Lorber; the album won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental album in January of 2014. In September, Alpert
issued In the Mood, a collection of standards and originals.