Europop Goes Latin: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass


1965 (Los Angeles, CA)


Adult Contemporary, Instrumental, '60s Pop, Jazz-pop, Soft Rock R&B

Claims to fame:

  • Along with his band the Tijuana Brass, Alpert defined the adult contemporary pop sound of the 1960s
  • As co-founder of A&M Records, he was one of the most influential men in the music business for decades
  • Combined Europop with Latin-flavored horns to create the hugely popular "Tijuana Sound"
  • Scored hits on the pop, R&B, jazz and adult contemporary charts
  • Considered one of the great pop-jazz trumpeters
  • Known as a musician, but his 1968 #1 hit "This Guy's in Love With You" also featured his vocals
  • A songwriter and producer in his own right
  • His 1979 hit "Rise" was notably sampled for Notorious B.I.G.'s 1997 hit "Hypnotize"

Principal Members:

Herb Alpert (born Herbert Alpert, March 31, 1935, Los Angeles, CA): trumpet, lead and backing vocals
Tonni Kalash (born June 15, 1937, San Francisco, CA; died May 15, 2001, Los Angeles, CA): trumpet
Bob Edmondson (born March 5, 1935, Los Angeles, CA): trombone
John Pisano (born February 6, 1931, Staten Island, NY): guitar
Lou Pagani: piano
Pat Senatore (born August 19, 1935, Newark, NJ): bass
Nick Ceroli (born December 22, 1939, Niles, OH; died August 11, 1985, Los Angeles, CA): drums

Early years:

The story of the Tijuana Brass is largely the story of Herb Alpert, the famed jazz-pop trumpeter who assembled them as his live and sometimes studio band. Alpert was the son of immigrant Jews from Romania and the Ukraine, most of whom already played some sort of instrument. As a child Herb took up both the trumpet and the drums, and by high school he was recording himself on his own wire recorder (an ancestor of the tape recorder). He gained quite a reputation on the horn, performing during his post-graduate Army stint and again with the USC Trojan Marching Band in college. He also worked as a songwriter and movie extra, learning all aspects of the entertainment business. By the early '60s he'd built his own home studio.


Alpert's friend Sol Lake had written an instrumental entitled "Twinkle Star," which the trumpeter began to record in his studio, overdubbing his horn with very slight delay in order to create the illusion of a full brass section. After seeing a mariachi band at a bullfight in nearby Tijuana, Mexico, he revamped the tune to match the style, and dubbed the result "The Lonely Bull." Alpert had already formed his own label, Carnival Records, with partner Jerry Moss, and had released a vocal solo single as Dore Alpert; he used this label, later renamed A&M, to release the new single. It was an instant hit, and both Alpert's career and the label's took off. Having released "Bull" with the name "Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass," he set about finding musicians for his fictional band. His 1965 album Whipped Cream and Other Delights became a landmark in the adult contemporary field, defining the sound for the decade. The single "A Taste of Honey" was a smash. In 1967, Herb actually sang again, performing Burt Bacharach's "This Guy's in Love With You" on a Tijuana Brass TV special. Demands for a single resulted in a rare vocal hit for Alpert.

Later years:

Herb continued in this vein until 1974, recording various incarnations of the Tijuana Brass and augmenting them with Los Angeles' famed "Wrecking Crew" sessions musicians. He eventually turned most of his attention to signing acts for A&M Records, which exploded in popularity in the '70s with acts such as Styx, Carpenters, and The Police. In 1979 he engineered a remarkable comeback with the funkier instrumental "Rise," and continued in that vein for the next decade or so, also becoming a presence on the R&B charts. A&M was sold to PolyGram (later Universal) in 1987, and stayed on to run it until 1994, quitting to devote himself to art and philanthropy. He continues to record and tour occasionally today, sometimes with longtime spouse and vocalist Lani Hall.

Herb Alpert awards and honors:

  • GRAMMY Awards (1965, 1966, 1979)
  • GRAMMY Hall of Fame (1998, 2008)
  • GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award (1997)
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (non-performer) (2006)
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame (6929 Hollywood Blvd.)

Herb Alpert facts and trivia:

  • Other members of the Tijuana Brass have included Vince Charles, Bob Findley, Dave Frishberg, Papito Hernandez, Jimmy Imperial, Tim Kaplan, Sal Macaluso, John Patitucci, Steve Schaeffer, Julius Wechter, Peter Woodford
  • Co-wrote Sam Cooke's "Only Sixteen" and "(What a) Wonderful World"
  • Is the only artist to have #1 hits with an instrumental and a vocal song
  • Alpert is also an accomplished sculptor and painter
  • Met his wife Lani Hall while touring with Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66
  • Alpert's songs have been used in a number of commercials and TV game shows, most notably ABC's The Dating Game, as well as the theme for 1967's James Bond parody Casino Royale
  • Performed the US national anthem at Super Bowl XXII and also performed at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass hit singles and albums:

#1 hits

  • "This Guy's in Love With You" (1968)
  • "Rise" (1979)

Adult Contemporary:

  • "A Taste of Honey" (1965)
  • "Casino Royale" (1967)
  • "A Banda (Ah-Bahnda)" (1967)
  • "This Guy's in Love With You" (1968)
  • "Rise" (1979)


  • "Diamonds" (1987) with Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith

Top 10 hitsPop:

  • "The Lonely Bull" (1962)
  • "A Taste of Honey" (1965)
  • "Diamonds" (1987) with Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith

Adult Contemporary:

  • "3rd Man Theme" (1965)
  • "Zorba the Greek" (1965)
  • "Tijuana Taxi" (1965)
  • "What Now My Love" (1966)
  • "Spanish Flea" (1966)
  • "The Work Song" (1966)
  • "Flamingo" (1966)
  • "Mame" (1966)
  • "Wade in the Water" (1967)
  • "The Happening" (1967)
  • "Carmen" (1968)
  • "To Wait for Love" (1968)
  • "My Favorite Things" (1968)
  • "Zazueira" (1969)
  • "Without Her" (1969)
  • "Jerusalem" (1970)
  • "Route 101" (1982)


  • "Keep Your Eye on Me" (1987)
  • "Making Love in the Rain" (1987) with Janet Jackson and Lisa Keith


  • "Spanish Flea" (1966)
  • "This Guy's in Love With You" (1968)

#1 albumsPop:

  • Whipped Cream & Other Delights (1965)
  • Going Places (1966)
  • What Now My Love (1966)
  • Sounds Like (1967)
  • The Beat of the Brass (1968)
  • Christmas Album (1968)


  • Rise (1979)

Top 10 albumsPop:

  • The Lonely Bull (1966)
  • South Of The Border (1966)
  • S.R.O. (1966)
  • Herb Alpert's Ninth (1968)
  • Rise (1979)


  • Herb Alpert/Hugh Masekela (1978)


  • Rise (1979)

Other notable recordings:with Hugh Masekelawith Lani Hall

Movie and TV appearances (movies in italics): The Ten Commandments (1956), Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962), "The Ed Sullivan Show" (1965), "The Hollywood Palace" (1965), "The Andy Williams Show" (1966), "What's My Line?" (1967), "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" (1968), "The Emmy Awards" (1969), "This Is Your Life" (1971), "The Grammy Awards" (1972, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989), "The American Music Awards" (1977, 1988), "20/20" (1980), "Soul Train" (1984), "The Academy Awards" (1984), "Today" (1989), "The Tonight Show" (1992, 2006), "Great Performances" (1996), "Behind the Music" (1998), The Wrecking Crew (2008), "Later with Jools Holland" (2010), "CBS News Sunday Morning" (2011)

Covered by: The Ventures, The Supremes, Johnny Mathis, Diana Ross and the Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Four Tops, Aretha Franklin, Yo La Tengo, Notorious B.I.G., Fastball, The Dream Syndicate, Roy Ayers, Jackie Wilson, Al Martino, Petula Clark, Bobby Vinton, The Lettermen, Jerry Vale, Al Wilson, Sammy Davis Jr., The Untouchables, Perrey and Kingsley, Paul Mauriat, Tony Mottola, Willie Bobo, Christopher Scott, Killer Watts, The Baja Marimba Band, Wally's Swing World