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Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass: “Spanish Flea”

Without doubt, the most surprising thing I’ve learned during the seven or so months I’ve been doing this website is that Norah Jones is Ravi Shankar’s daughter. That’s simply impossible to beat.

But the bio of Herb Alpert in a close second. And, unlike the connection between Jones and Shankar, this is a series of small surprises, not one big bomb.

Of course, many of you know all or some of what follows. But for me, it all was a revelation: Albert was born and raised in the U.S. (I had assumed that he was was from Tijuana, since the name of his band was the Tijuana Brass.) He was the Jewish son of immigrants (his mother’s maiden name is Tillie Goldberg) from what is now Ukraine. Alpert  is the “A” in A&M Records. (The “M” is Jerry Moss.) The two created the label in 1962 and sold it to Polygram in 1989. They managed it for four more years.

It was quite a label, according to Wikipedia:

In the late 1960s, through direct signing and licensing agreements, A&M added several British artists to its roster, including Cat Stevens, Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Humble Pie, Fairport Convention, Free, The Move, and Spooky Tooth. In the 1970s, under its manufacturing and distribution agreement with Ode Records, A&M released albums by Carole King and the comedy duo Cheech & Chong. Other notable acts of the time included Nazareth, Y&T, the Tubes, Styx, Supertramp, Rick Wakeman, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Chuck Mangione, Squeeze, and Peter Frampton. On March 10, 1977, A&M signed the Sex Pistols after the band had been dropped by EMI. However, A&M dropped the band within a week.[1] A&M sustained its success during the 1980s with a roster of noted acts that included Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Henry Badowski, Janet Jackson, the Police, Sting, The Brothers Johnson, Falco, Atlantic Starr, the Go-Go’s, Chris De Burgh, Bryan Adams, Suzanne Vega, Brenda Russell, Jeffrey Osborne, Oingo Boingo, Human League, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Sharon, Lois & Bram, Annabel Lamb, Jim Diamond, Vital Signs, Joe Jackson, and Scottish rock band Gun.

Here are Albert’s site and some clips:

Whipped CreamA&M was housed in Charlie Chaplin’s old studios. I am not sure if this was the home of United Artists–which Chaplin started with D.W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks–or a previous studio. In any case, the video uses it as a set and is quite interesting.

This Guy’s in Love With YouWritten by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.

RiseA late hit.