Herb Alpert
Alpert in 1966
Alpert in 1966
Background information
Also known asDore Alpert, Tito Alpert
Born (1935-03-31) March 31, 1935 (age 89)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • arranger
  • conductor
  • painter
  • sculptor
  • theatre producer
  • actor
  • Trumpet
  • piano
  • vocals
Years active1956–present

Herb Alpert (born March 31, 1935) is an American trumpeter who led the band Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (sometimes called "Herb Alpert and the TJB") in the 1960s. During the same decade, he co-founded A&M Records with Jerry Moss. Alpert has recorded 28 albums that have landed on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, five of which became No. 1 albums; he has scored 14 platinum albums and 15 gold albums. Alpert is the only musician to hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 as both a vocalist ("This Guy's in Love with You", 1968) and an instrumentalist ("Rise", 1979).[a]

Alpert has sold an estimated 72 million records worldwide.[1] He has received many accolades, including a Tony Award and eight Grammy Awards,[2] as well as the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2006, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Alpert was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Barack Obama in 2013.

Early life and career

Herb Alpert was born and raised in the Boyle Heights[3] section of Eastside Los Angeles,[4] California,[5] He was the youngest of three children (a daughter and two sons)[6] born to Tillie (née Goldberg) and Louis Leib (or Louis Bentsion-Leib) Alpert.[7] His parents were Jewish immigrants to the U.S. from Radomyshl (in present-day Ukraine) and Romania.[8][9][10]

Alpert was born into a family of musicians. His father, although a tailor by trade, was also a talented mandolin player. His mother taught violin at a young age, and his older brother, David, was a talented young drummer.[11] His sister Mimi, who was the oldest,[5] played the piano.[6] Herb began to play trumpet at eight years old.[12]

Alpert started attending Fairfax High School in Los Angeles beginning in 10th grade. In 11th grade (1952) he was a member of their gym team. One of his specialties was performing on the rings, but an appendectomy a week before a League Meet sidelined his path. In his senior year (1953), he took to focusing on his trumpet.

While attending the University of Southern California in the 1950s,[13] he was a member of the USC Trojan Marching Band for two years. Alpert served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, where he played in the 6th Army Band.[14][15][16] In 1956, he appeared in an uncredited role as "Drummer on Mt. Sinai" in The Ten Commandments.[17]

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.[18] In 1960, he began his recording career as a vocalist at RCA Records under the name of Dore Alpert.[8] In 1962, Alpert and his new business partner Jerry Moss formed Carnival Records with "Tell It to the Birds" as its first release, distribution outside of Los Angeles being done by Dot Records. After Carnival released its second single "Love Is Back In Style" by Charlie Robinson, Alpert and Moss found that there was prior usage of the Carnival name and renamed their label A&M Records.[19]

The Tijuana Brass years

All artists should be looking for their own voices. I went through a period of trying to sound like Harry James and Louis Armstrong and Miles [Davis]. And then when Clifford Brown came along, it was almost discouraging. The guy was so good! But I kept at it. I loved playing. And then when I heard Les Paul multitrack his guitar on recordings, I tried that with the trumpet. Boom—that sound came out. After I released 'The Lonely Bull', the record that started A&M in 1962, a lady in Germany wrote a letter to me. She said, 'Thank you, Mr. Alpert, for sending me on a vicarious trip to Tijuana.' I realized that music was visual for her, that it took her someplace. I said, 'That's the type of music I want to make. I want to make music that transports people.'
— Herb Alpert in Off Beat Magazine, April 24, 2017

The song that jump-started Alpert's performing career was originally titled "Twinkle Star", written by Sol Lake (who would write many Tijuana Brass songs over the next decade).[20] Alpert was dissatisfied with his first efforts to record the song, then took a break to visit a bullfight in Tijuana, Mexico. As Alpert later recounted, "That's when it hit me! Something in the excitement of the crowd, the traditional mariachi music, the trumpet call heralding the start of the fight, the yelling, the snorting of the bulls, it all clicked."[21] Alpert adapted the tune to the trumpet style, mixed in crowd cheers and other noises for ambience, and renamed the song "The Lonely Bull".[22]

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.[23]

It was A&M's first album (with the original release number being #101), although it was recorded for Conway Records. The title cut reached No. 6 on the Billboard pop chart. For this album and subsequent releases, Alpert recorded with the group of Los Angeles session musicians known as the Wrecking Crew, whom he holds in high regard.[24]

The Tijuana Brass in 1966; from left: Alpert, Tonni Kalash, John Pisano, Nick Ceroli and Pat Senatore

Alpert's 1965 album Whipped Cream & Other Delights proved so popular — it was the number one album of 1966, outselling The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and The Rolling Stones — that Alpert had to turn the Tijuana Brass into an actual touring ensemble rather than a studio band. Some of that popularity might be attributable to the album's notoriously racy cover, which featured model Dolores Erickson seemingly clothed only in whipped cream. However, as writer Bruce Handy pointed out in a Billboard article, two other Brass albums, Going Places (1965) and What Now My Love (1966), "held the third and fifth spots on the 1966 year-end chart despite pleasant yet far more anodyne covers."[25] Another measure of the band's popularity is that a number of Tijuana Brass songs were used as theme music for years by the ABC TV game show, The Dating Game.[26]

In 1966, a short animated film by John and Faith Hubley called "A Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature" was released; it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1967. The film featured two songs by the band, "Tijuana Taxi" and "Spanish Flea".[27] Also in 1967, the Tijuana Brass performed Burt Bacharach's title cut to the first movie version of Casino Royale.[28]

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.[22][29] 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.[30] Although Alpert's vocal skills and range were limited, the song's technical demands suited him.[31]

After years of success, Alpert had a personal crisis in 1969, declaring "the trumpet is my enemy." He disbanded the Tijuana Brass, and stopped performing in public.[10] Eventually he sought out teacher Carmine Caruso, "who never played trumpet a day in his life, (but) he was a great trumpet teacher."[32] "What I found," Alpert told The New York Times, "is that the thing in my hands is just a piece of plumbing. The real instrument is me, the emotions, not my lip, not my technique, but feelings I learned to stuff away -- as a kid who came from a very unvocal household. Since then, I've been continually working it out, practicing religiously and now, playing better than ever."[10] The results were noticeable; as Richard S. Ginell wrote in an AllMusic review of Alpert's comeback album, You Smile - The Song Begins, "His four-year sabbatical over, Herb Alpert returned to the studio creatively refreshed, his trumpet sounding more soulful and thoughtful, his ears attuned more than ever to jazz."[33]

Post-Brass musical career

Herb Alpert at Schiphol Airport (1974)

In 1979, five years after his last chart hit with the Tijuana Brass, Alpert tried to record a disco album of rearranged Brass hits. "It just sounded awful to me," Alpert was quoted later. "I didn't want any part of it." But because the musicians were already booked, Alpert recorded other material, including the instrumental "Rise", (with initial version created by Alpert's nephew, Randy "Badazz" Alpert and his close friend, musician Andy Armer). The song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 after it was used repeatedly on the soap opera General Hospital. The song also became a hit in the UK, but in a speeded-up version, due to British DJs not realizing that the American 12" single was recorded at 33 rpm instead of 45 rpm.[34]

In 2013, Alpert released Steppin' Out, which won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album.[35]

A&M Records

Main article: A&M Records

On October 11, 1989, Philips subsidiary PolyGram announced its acquisition of A&M Records for $500 million.[36] Alpert and Moss later received an extra $200 million payment for PolyGram's breach of the terms of the deal.[37]

Visual arts

Alpert has a second career as an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor with group and solo exhibitions around the United States and Europe. The 2010 sculpture exhibition "Herb Alpert: Black Totems" in Beverly Hills brought media attention to his visual work.[38] His 2013 exhibition in Santa Monica included both abstract paintings and large totemlike sculptures.[39]

Awards and honors

In May 2000, Alpert was awarded an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music.[40]

Alpert being awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2013

In 1977, for his contribution to the recording industry, Alpert was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6929 Hollywood Boulevard.

At the 1997 Billboard Latin Music Awards Alpert received the El Premio Billboard award for his contributions to Latin music.[41]

Alpert and Moss were 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 was awarded the Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award by Society of Singers in 2009.[42]

Alpert was awarded a 2012 National Medal of Arts award by Barack and Michelle Obama on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, in the White House's East Room.[43]


The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts

In the 1980s Alpert created the Herb Alpert Foundation and the Alpert Awards in the Arts with the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).[44]

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 donated $24 million, including $15 million from April 2008, to CalArts for its music curricula, and provided funding for the culture-jamming activists the Yes Men.[45]

In 2012, the foundation granted 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, Alpert's foundation also bestowed a $10.1 million donation to Los Angeles City College to provide music majors with a tuition-free education, 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.[46] In 2020, Alpert bestowed an additional $9.7 million to the Harlem School of the Arts to upgrade its facility.[47]

Alpert founded the Louis and Tillie Alpert Music Center in Jerusalem, which brings together both Arab and Jewish students.[48]

Business ventures

In the late 1980s, Alpert started H. Alpert and Co., a short-lived perfume company, which sold products in high-end department stores such as Nordstrom. The company launched with two scents, Listen and Listen for Men. Alpert compared perfume to music, with high and low notes.[49]


On September 17, 2010, the TV documentary Legends: Herb Alpert – Tijuana Brass and Other Delights premiered on BBC4.[50]

In 2020, Herb Alpert Is..., a documentary written and directed by John Scheinfeld, was released.[51]

Personal life

Alpert married Sharon Mae Lubin at Presidio of San Francisco in 1956.[13] They had two children, Dore (born 1960) and Eden (born 1966).[52] The couple divorced in 1971. Two years later, Alpert married Lani Hall, once the lead singer of A&M group Brasil '66.[53] Alpert and Hall have a daughter, Aria, born in 1976.[10]

Hall and Alpert recorded a live album, Anything Goes, in 2009; a studio album, I Feel You, in 2011;[54] and another studio album, Steppin' Out, in 2013. An AllMusic review concluded: "Ultimately, Steppin' Out represents not just the third album in a trilogy, but a loving creative partnership that, for Alpert and Hall, spans a lifetime."[55] As of 2024 the couple still performs together.


Studio albums

List of studio albums, with selected peak chart positions and certifications
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications

The Lonely Bull 1962 10
Volume 2 1963 17
South of the Border 1964 6
Whipped Cream & Other Delights 1965 1 10 21
Going Places 1 28 5 4
What Now My Love 1966 1 11 20 18
S.R.O. 2 3 17 5
Sounds Like... 1967 1 34 13 21
Herb Alpert's Ninth 4 9 7 26
The Beat of the Brass 1968 1 23 8 4
Christmas Album 1968
Warm 1969 28 14 30
The Brass Are Comin' 30 39 40
Greatest Hits 1970 43 8
Summertime 1971 111
You Smile – The Song Begins 1974 66
Coney Island 1975 88
Just You and Me 1976
Herb Alpert / Hugh Masekela 1978 65
Rise 1979 6 21 37
Beyond 1980 28
Magic Man 1981 61
Fandango 1982 100
Blow Your Own Horn 1983 120
Bullish 1984 75
Wild Romance 1985 151
Keep Your Eye on Me 1987 18 55 79
Under a Spanish Moon 1988
My Abstract Heart 1989
North on South St. 1991
Midnight Sun 1992
Second Wind[63] 1996 7
Passion Dance[64] 1997 8
Colors[65] 1999 43
I Feel You (with Lani Hall)[66] 2011 5
Steppin' Out (with Lani Hall)[67] 2013 11
In the Mood[68] 2014 172 3
Come Fly with Me[69] 2015 7
Human Nature[70] 2016 10
Music Volume 1[71] 2017 3
The Christmas Wish[72] 2
Music Volume 3:
Herb Alpert Reimagines the Tijuana Brass
2018 6
Over the Rainbow[74] 2019 1
Catch the Wind[75] 2021
Wish Upon a Star[76][77] 2023


List of compilations, with selected peak chart positions and certifications
Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications

Greatest Hits 1970 43 8
Herb Alpert & Friends Box Set 1973
  • UK: Silver
40 Greatest 1977 45
Classics Volume 1 1986
The Very Best Of Herb Alpert 1991 34
Definitive Hits 2001 7 12


List of singles, with selected peak chart positions
Title Year Peak chart positions Album




"The Trial"
(As Herb B. Lou and The Legal Eagles, with Lou Adler)
1958 Non-album singles
"Sweet Georgia Brown" b/w "Viper's Blues"
(As Herbie Alpert and his Quartet)
"The Hully Gully" b/w "Kiss Me"
(As Herbie Alpert)
"Finders Keepers"
(As Herbie Alpert)
"Gonna Get a Girl"
(As Dore Alpert)
"Little Lost Lover"
(As Dore Alpert)
"Tell It to the Birds" b/w "Fallout Shelter"
(As Dore Alpert)
"The Lonely Bull" 6 1 The Lonely Bull
"Struttin' with Maria" 1963
(As Dore Alpert)
Non-album single
"Marching Thru Madrid" 96 42 Volume 2
"Mexican Corn"
"America" 25
"I'd Do It All Again"
(As Dore Alpert)
1964 Non-album singles
"Mexican Drummer Man" 77 19
"The Mexican Shuffle" 85 19 36 South of the Border
"El Presidente"
"South of the Border"
"Whipped Cream" 1965 68 13 99 Whipped Cream & Other Delights
"Peanuts" 81
"A Taste of Honey" 7 1 79 11 14 29 18
"Mae" 26 Going Places
"3rd Man Theme" 47 7 90
"Zorba the Greek" 11 2 32
"Tijuana Taxi" 38 9 32 37
"Spanish Flea" 1966 27 4 28 19 26 3
"What Now My Love" 24 2 28 What Now My Love
"The Work Song" 18 2 25 S.R.O.
"Flamingo" 28 5 30 16 23
"Mame" 19 2 51
"Wade in the Water" 1967 37 5 Sounds Like...
"Casino Royale" 27 1 14 27
"The Happening" 32 4 51 Herb Alpert's Ninth
"A Banda (Ah Bahn-da)" 35 1 33 22
"Carmen" 1968 51 3 40
"Cabaret" 72 13 99 The Beat of the Brass
"Slick" 119 36
"This Guy's in Love with You" 1 1 1 18 37 13 3
"My Favorite Things" 45 7 Christmas Album
"To Wait for Love" 51 2 44 Warm
"Zazueira" 1969 78 9 79
"Without Her" 63 5 75 36
"Ob La Di Ob La Da"
"You Are My Life" 34 The Brass Are Comin'
"The Maltese Melody" 1970 14
"Jerusalem" 74 6 43 42 Summertime
"Summertime" 1971 28
"Without Her" 1972 Solid Brass
"Last Tango in Paris" 1973 77 22 You Smile – The Song Begins
"Fox Hunt" 1974 84 14
"Save the Sunlight" 13
"I Belong" Coney Island
"Coney Island" 1975 19
"El Bimbo" 28 Non-album singles
"Whistle Song"
"Promenade" 1976 Just You and Me
"African Summer" 1977 Herb Alpert / Hugh Masekela
"Skokiaan" (with Hugh Masekela) 1978 87
"Lobo" (with Hugh Masekela)
"Rise" 1979 1 1 4 19 5 13 Rise
"Rotation" 30 23 20 46
"Street Life" 1980 104 41 65
"Beyond" 50 39 44 Beyond
"Kamali" 64
"The Continental"
"Come What May" (with Lani Hall) 1981 43 Non-album single
"Magic Man" 79 22 37 Magic Man
"Manhattan Melody" 74
"Route 101" 1982 37 4 Fandango
"Fandango" 26
"Love Me the Way I Am" 1983
"Garden Party" 81 14 77 Blow Your Own Horn
"Red Hot" 77
"Come What May" (with Lani Hall) (re-issue) 1984 32 Non-album single
"Bullish" 90 22 52 Bullish
"Struttin' on Five"
"8 Ball" 1985 73 Wild Romance
"You Are the One" (with Brenda Russell)
"African Flame"
"Keep Your Eye on Me" 1987 46 3 18 19 19 Keep Your Eye on Me
"Diamonds" (with Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith) 5 1 47 4 15 3 31 27
"Making Love in the Rain" (with Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith) 35 21 7 94 87
"Our Song"
"I Need You" 1988 Under a Spanish Moon
"3 O'Clock Jump" 1989 59 My Abstract Heart
"North on South St." 1991 40 North on South St.
"Until We Meet Again" 1997 Passion Dance

See also


  1. ^ Barry White is often incorrectly listed as the other artist with both a vocal and instrumental Billboard #1. However, White did not perform an instrument on Love’s Theme.


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