Herb Alpert and the Tijuana
Synopsis of Pop Music
“You see, this guy,
This guy’s in love with you...”
Over the years, musical wizard Herb Alpert has taken on many guises—from songwriter to producer to vocalist. He was also the co-founder of one of the most successful independent record labels of all time, A&M Records. However, he is best known to the public as a bandleader through the recordings of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. This talented ensemble mixed easy-listening pop melodies with a sense of swing and a Latin-inflected sound to create several big pop hits that defined the easy-listening sound of the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Herb Alpert began his musical career at age eight when he learned to play the trumpet. He started working in the music business in the 1950’s, first as a singer and then as a songwriter. He wrote some hits for Sam Cooke, including “Wonderful World,” and also produced for Jan and Dean. However, his true success began when he recorded a Latin-sounding instrumental called “Twinkle Star.” After seeing a bullfight, he was inspired to add crowd sounds to the tune and re-dubbed it “The Lonely Bull.” He released it with partner Jerry Moss on their label, A&M, and earned the new company its first Top-10 record.
After the success of “The Lonely Bull,” Alpert formed a full-time band called the Tijuana Brass to record more music in this Latin, instrumental vein. They returned to the public eye when “Mexican Shuffle,” a song from their third album, South of the Border, was used in a commercial and caught on with the public. The Tijuana Brass achieved their biggest success in 1965 with the album Whipped Cream and Other Delights, which also boasted a much-played hit single in the group’s swinging remake of the old standard “A Taste Of Honey.”
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass followed the #1 success of Whipped Cream and Other Delights with another #1 hit, Going Places. This album featured the hit “Tijuana Taxi,” a bouncy instrumental with an amusing car-horn sound effect. What Now, My Love did even better, staying at the #1 spot for nine weeks. In 1967, the group lent their talents to Burt Bacharach’s soundtrack for Casino Royale by performing its theme music. They continued to dominate the charts through the end of the 1960’s and became that decade’s fourth biggest-selling album act in the process.
In 1968, Herb Alpert experienced a notable first when he went to #1 with a rare vocal performance on Burt Bacharach’s “This Guy’s In Love With You.” The next year, the Tijuana Brass disbanded. However, Alpert put together a new version of the Tijuana Brass in 1974 and scored a hit with You Smile – the Song Begins. This version soon dissolved, but Alpert experienced even greater success in 1979 with his disco-styled solo instrumental “Rise.” It was used prominently in several episodes of General Hospital, and this exposure helped spur it into becoming Alpert’s second #1 hit single.
The Tijuana Brass reunited briefly in 1984 to tour behind an album called Bullish. Since then, Alpert has continued to record on his own. He scored a Top-5 hit in 1987 with “Diamonds,” a song featuring A&M artist Janet Jackson as a guest vocalist. Alpert recorded albums throughout the 1990’s and also moved into producing hit Broadway shows like Jelly’s Last Jam. However, he will always be remembered by pop fans around the world for bring a swinging, Latin-esque touch to instrumental music with The Tijuana Brass.
Pop Sub Categoriespop
Essential Music AlbumsWhipped Cream and Other Delights (A&M)
Band MembersHerb Alpert trumpet, vocals
Tonni Kalash trumpet
Bob Edmondson trombone
Lou Pagani piano
John Pisano guitar
Nick Ceroli drums
Pat Senatore bass
Julius Wechter marimbas, percussion