A&M Records: Independent, With Major Appeal

Herb Alpert (left) and Jerry Moss, who founded A&M Records in Alpert's garage in 1962.

From WLRN:

From the early 1960s to the late ’80s, A&M was one of the most eclectic and powerful independent record labels in the world. The roster of artists who recorded there includes The Carpenters, Captain Beefheart, The Police, Joe Cocker, Suzanne Vega, Procol Harum and Janet Jackson.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of A&M’s founding by trumpeter Herb Alpert and record promoter Jerry Moss. Among the first releases on the label was a song Alpert recorded in 1962 with his band, The Tijuana Brass, inspired by the bullfights he and Moss used to go to in Mexico.

“I was intrigued by the bass bands in the stands, announcing the bullfights,” Alpert recalls. “I was trying to capture that feeling. Jerry came up with the name.”

“The Lonely Bull” was the first hit for their fledgling record label, A&M (Alpert’s and Moss’ initials). The company was started out of Alpert’s garage in West Hollywood. “We kind of wired it up a little bit,” Moss recalls, sitting next to his partner. “There was a two-line phone in there and Herb, was it a two- or three-track Ampex tape recorder?”

“Two tape recorders,” Alpert answers, “and that’s where the Tijuana Brass sound started.”

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