PLAYING MOON AND FORTY TWO
seeing Yaskiels versus Warwicks in Pop-Master (without Ken Bruce) is to watch old (ish) men
PLAYING MOON AND FORTY TWO
reckons Norman Warwick
It was revised and updated in a third edition for the 21st Century. With 1,100 pages, each of a larger than average size for a paperback, it looks, just by its very bulk, as though it will be comprehensive, and because it bears the title of the Encyclopedia Of Rock & Roll, it promises it will be comprehensive and because that title appears under the banner of The Rolling Stone it damned well delivers on being comprehensive. (see photo on front cover and at top of this page.)
It was actually printed in 2001 and the book I am looking at has, until now, been owned by Larry Yaskiel, former rock & roll music executive with A & M Records (about which more later) and currently about as retired (and retiring) as I am. Larry, recently awarded an MBE as reported in our post British Ambassador And The Legendary Larry, on 5th February 2022, (a post now available in our own easy to negotiate comprehensive archives of around 1,000 articles of our encyclopedic Sidetracks And Detours) is also the Honorary Editor of the quarterly glossy Lancelot magazine which offers sound advice for tourists and visitors to our island. (Larry and Liz are shown left, looking ready for he Pop-Master showdown !)
The partner referred to as A in the A & M company title was, of course, Herb Alpert.
Herb Alpert (right, born March 31, 1935) is an American trumpeter who led the band Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass 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 Billboard 200 chart, five of which became No. 1 albums; he has had 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).
Alpert, according to his wikepedia entry, has reportedly sold 72 million records worldwide. He has received many accolades, including a Tony Award and eight Grammy Awards, 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.
Herb Alpert was born and raised in the Boyle Heights section of Eastside Los Angeles California, the youngest of three children (a daughter and two sons) of Tillie (née Goldberg) and Louis Leib (or Louis Bentsion-Leib) Alpert. His parents were Jewish immigrants to the U.S. from Radomyshl (in present-day Ukraine) and Romania.
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. His sister Mimi, who was the oldest played the piano.] Herb began to play trumpet at eight years old.
Alpert started attending Fairfax High School in Los Angeles beginning there in the 10th grade for the Class of 1951. In the 11th grade in 1952, he was a member of their Gym Team, where one of his specialties was performing on the Rings, but an appendectomy a week prior to a League Meet sidelined his path to continue there. It was in his Senior year (1953), he took to focusing on his trumpet.
While attending the University of Southern California in the 1950s, 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. In 1956, he appeared in an uncredited role as “Drummer on Mt. Sinai” in The Ten Commandments.
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. (left) Wow, I had never realised that and it puts Herb Alpert in a whole new place for me) In 1960, he began his recording career as a vocalist at RCA Records under the name of Dore Alpert. 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.
Reflecting on this Alpert spoke to Off beat Magazine in 2017, saying 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.’
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). 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.” Alpert adapted the trumpet style to the tune, mixed in crowd cheers and other noises for ambience, and renamed the song “The Lonely Bull“.
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.
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.
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.” 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.
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.” Also in 1967, the Tijuana Brass performed Burt Bacharach‘s title cut to the first movie version of Casino Royale.
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. 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 Although Alpert’s vocal skills and range were limited, the song’s technical demands suited him.
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. Eventually he sought out teacher Carmine Caruso, “who never played trumpet a day in his life, (but) he was a great trumpet teacher. 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.” 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.”
In 1979, five years after his previous 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,” co-written by his nephew, Randy Badazz Alpert. 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.
In 2013, Alpert released Steppin’ Out, which won a Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album
Alpert and A&M Records partner Jerry Moss (left) sold A&M to PolyGram for a reported $500 million in around 1987; they later received an extra $200 million payment for PolyGram’s breach of the terms of the deal
Alpert has a second career as an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor with group and solo exhibitions around the United States and Europe. The sculpture exhibition “Herb Alpert: Black Totems”, on display at ACE Gallery, Beverly Hills, February through September 2010, brought media attention to his visual work.]His 2013 exhibition in exhibition Santa Monica, California included both abstract paintings and large totem-like sculptures.
In May 2000, Alpert was awarded an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music.
For his contribution to the recording industry, Alpert has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6929 Hollywood Blvd in 1977. Moss also has a star on the Walk of Fame. Alpert and Moss were also 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 received the “El Premio Billboard” for his contributions to Latin music at the 1997 Billboard Latin Music Awards.
Alpert was awarded Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award by Society of Singers in 2009.
Alpert was awarded one of the 2012 National Medal of Arts awards by Barack and Michelle Obama on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, in the White House‘s East Room.
In the 1980s Alpert created the Herb Alpert Foundation and the Alpert Awards in the Arts with the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).
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 gave $24 million, which included $15 million from April 2008, to CalArts for its music curricula, and provided funding for the culture jamming activists The Yes Men.
In 2012, the Foundation gave a grant of 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 Centre. In 2016, his foundation also made a $10.1 million donation to Los Angeles City College that will provide all music majors at the school with a tuition-free education, beginning in fall of 2017. This was 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. In 2020, Alpert bestowed an additional $9.7 million on the Harlem School of the Arts to upgrade its facility.
He founded the Louis and Tillie Alpert Music Center in Jerusalem, which brings together both Arab and Jewish students.
In the late 1980s, Alpert started H. Alpert and Co., a short-lived perfume company, which sold through higher-end department stores like Nordstrom. The company launched with two scents, Listen and Listen for Men. Alpert compared perfume to music, with high and low notes.
On September 17, 2010, the TV documentary Legends: Herb Alpert – Tijuana Brass and Other Delights premiered on BBC4.
In 2020, Herb Alpert Is…, a documentary written and directed by John Scheinfeld, was released.
When we recently interviewed UK jazz musician Jenny Bray on these pages a few weeks ago (just type her name into our archives search, and the piece will come up) she told us her memories of growing up as a child and listening to the music of Herb Alpert. She told us she still somteimes features his music in her own live performances I mentioned that fact in the interview, and when Larry read it he remembered he had an old photo of Herb in good company (Her Majesty and Harry Secombe, as can be seen on the photograph) He copied it across to me and asked that I might share it with Jenny,….and I take the opportunity to do so by reproducing it here in this article as the legacy continues.
Alpert married Sharon Mae Lubin at Presidio of San Francisco in 1956. They had two children, Dore (born 1960) and Eden (born 1966), but the couple divorced in 1971. Two years later, Alpert married Lani Hall, once the lead singer of A&M group Brasil ’66. Alpert and Hall have a daughter, Aria, born in 1976. Hall and Alpert recorded a live album, Anything Goes, in 2009; a studio album, I Feel You, in 2011; and another studio album, Steppin’ Out, in 2013. As Matt Collar wrote in AllMusic, “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.
His discography reveals that most of his recordings, whether solo or with an ensemble, and whether as singles or album tracks all had genuine cross-over appeal, with many climbing the Billboard pop charts as well as the US Jazz charts of the era.
Larry recently presented me with what I am sure he has always thought of as a very precious book, on a day we and our ladies were all chatting over cups of morning coffee. We were sitting outside the Café de las Plaza, in a beautiful setting over-looking the rich man´s harbour of Peurto Calero (left) and pretty much the first name I noticed, as I flicked through the opening pages, was that of Herb Alpert on pages 15 and 16 between The Allman Brothers Band and Dave Alvin, a singer-songwriter of Americana music and an artist and his song Border Radio who are always first name on the team sheet whenever I select a new play list.
Already aware that Larry had worked for several years with Herb Alpert when they were both executives at A & M , I commented on Alpert´s inclusion. Larry responded and spoke of Alpert in high regard, as both a musician and as a man. I could offer only anecdotal references and hearsay, never having met Herb Alpert. I did say that Alpert´s presence in this book, the recollection of a track of Alpert´s that Larry loved, a recollection of my own and of how I had published an interview recently on these pages with Jenny Bray, a jazz musician based in the UK and currently recording in the States, that included her memories of being a child loving the music of Herb Alpert so much that she still includes his work in her act.
Larry told me how much he enjoys Alpert´s phrasing on This Guy´s In Love, his vocal version of a song by the late Burt Bacharach.
And I spoke of Spanish Flea, a huge summer UK hit of my pre-teen childhood that I listened to non-stop in the Hideaway Café in St. Column Major in Cornwall (right) throughout a very wet fortnight´s holiday with my parents and brother..
That is how The Encyclopedia grows existentially,…. the name of one entrant bringing together a former record industry exec (Larry) a semi retired music journalist (me) and and a full time working musician (Jenny Bray) to sing the prasies.
Thousands of contributors to the legacy and perpetuity of rock and roll are included in this third edition encyclopedia of what is clearly stated to be rock and roll rather than simply an encyclopedia of ´the somewhat obscure names listened to by Norman Warwick. Nevertheless a casual leaf through the entire A to Z threw up a list of many artists who now live in the shaded part of a Venn diagram that sees many in the circle representing The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock And Roll, and others I would consider to be Norms not ´very well known but nevertheless seminal´figures, all lving together in the shady area.
So we have
Eric Anderson alongside Amen Corner and
Hank Ballard next to Joan Baez
J.J. Cale beside Captain And Tenille
Iris DeMent joining Destiny´s Child
Steve Earle close to Earth Wind And Fire
Georgie Fame chatting to Richard and Mimi Farina
Jimmie Dale Gilmore accepting Guns N Roses
Merle Haggard and Happy Mondays
The Incredible String Band with Iron Maiden
Waylon Jenning is with Joan Jett
The Kingston Trio (featuring John Stewart, left) have got The Knack
Little Eva has Little Feat
Kate and Anna McGarragle stand beside Megadeath
New Riders Of The Purple Sage have Nine Inch Nails
Phil Ochs hears Oingo Boingo
Gram Parsons is on the Pavement
Quicksilver Messenger Service salute Queen
The Roches meet Cliff Richard
John Sebastian sees The Seldom Scene
Richard Thompson hears Thunderclap Newman
Uncle Tupelo stand over Underworld
Townes Van Zandt goes to Velvet Underground
Jerry Jeff Walker asks the Who ?
X feels like Xtc
Weird Al Jankovic scares The Yardbirds
Warren Zevon walks with The Zombies
Every one of these, artists, however, can stand solitary and proud as a influential figure in rock and roll history and so, too, could another thousand or so of their playmates.
For instance, whilst flicking through the book, Larry Yaskiel and I woke up to smell the roses. Larry thumbed his way to Burt Bacharach and praised the singer-writer for his strange rhythmic patterns and his way of making everyday ´catchphrases´ speak so eloquently in his lyrics. Larry alluded again to This Guy´s In Love, written and recorded by Bacaharch (left) and recorded too by the aforementioned Herb Alpert.
So two of Larry´s favourite artists are included in this encyclopedia and there is a huge section on Jimi Hendrix with whom Larry occasionally worked..
The next hour or so flew by as the Yaskiels and the Warwicks nattered away about all the musicals, music and musicians we have loved in our lives, However, when the waitress came out to refill she replenished Larry´s first, smiling at him and winking and saying ´you´re special´. In fact she even sang that line from an old hit of which she then couldn´t remember either the title or the name of the recording artists but she knew it had a line that said ´´ you´re special´,
None of us could name that tune, so the waitress shook her head regretfully before turning her frown upside down into a smile and screaming out the name of ´THE PRETENDERS´ (left) as it suddenly came to her.
Whilst grateful to the waitress, we couldn´t help but feel a bit embarrassed: two publishers, a music journalist and a photographer and not one of us could remember the name of, oh,… you know.,,,, thingy,…the whosits,…..the watchcallems,…you know.´
Until that moment, we had perhaps all felt that if this had been an edition of Mastermind, The Chase or Catchphrase or Eggheads we would have been a winning team, each an individual champion.
In fact, we were all ernest, our faces set in concentration like those of the old men who play chess, cribbage and cards on the sea wall in Arrecife. We thought we´d known it all,….but were shown by the waitress were nothing but a bunch of Pretenders.
We set off home in a silence of chagrin, and although the skies were clear and blue it felt to Dee and I that it might as well have rained until September,…….
´who sang that? ´I asked Dee., as the thought crossed my mind.
She didn´t know.
My mood lifted as I told her that I did,
´So you should´, she huffed. ´You´ve got an encyclopaedia the size of Glastonbury on the back seat,
The rest of the ride home returned to silence.
So why does this little story, of two couple meeting up for a chat in an al fresco coffee bar with a wonderful view, merit being included on these pages of Sidetracks And Detours? Well, partly because that wonderful café where the conversation took place is situated hee on Lanzarote.
Perhaps you had to be there, to feel the warmth of ten a.m. sunshine on your back, to chat easily with pals about island cruises and encyclopedias and music. Perhaps you had to see the smile on the face of the waitress when she solved our memory problem.
It was all so typically Lanzarotan, on one of those days when nothing and everything happens as one, and music is such an integral part of Lanzarote life. Days when slow speaking conversations in English cede to the loud rapid fire of voices all speaking at once in Spanish. It was a day when the palm fronds were silhouetted against a blue sky that settled on an infinity horizon beside a sky blue sea several miles away.
This is not a story about a rock and roll encyclopedia or the glories of previous careers in the music or publishing industries but is instead a story of integration and education and admiration for an island people of whom a vast majority are literally having the time of their island´s life.
This story somehow reminds me of that song by the late Texan writer Guy Clark about Desperadoes Waiting´For A Train. The folks he mentions in that title are actually just old folk talking about their blue-remembered hills, spending their days in the hot sun with a cold beer while playing Moon And Forty Two, (a Texan domino game).
I was drawn to settle in Lanzarote by its parched mountains that whenever I was here on holiday put me in mind of so many tv westerns like Wagon Train and Boots And Saddles, and of course reminded me of so much of the music I had listened to all my life,
There is a place (shown on our front cover and at the top of this article) in Arrecife where men and women gather to play dominoes and chess and cards, outside the library in front of what was one the immigration office. That gathering has always reminded me of Guy´s Desperadoes Waiting For A Train. I always wanted to share that strange mix of fervour and friendship that is felt in his song, and so I´m writing this story because, with Larry and Liz the other day, Dee and I enjoyed ninety minutes of just such fervour and friendship.
As I think I said at the beginning of this article, Lanzarote is a place where nothing and everything happens as one, and that is just how this conversation felt.
Thanks for the book Larry,……it will feed many more café society meetings I´m sure !
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!