Back in the days before the massive consolidation of the record industry, A&M Records was a pretty cool label. Based in a complex that used to be home to Charlie Chaplin’s Hollywood movie studio, the label was home to Supertramp, Cat Stevens, the Police and dozens of others.
NPR profiles A&M.
From the early 1960s to the late ’80s, A&M was one of the most eclectic and powerful independent record labels in the world. The roster of artists who recorded there includes The Carpenters, Captain Beefheart, The Police, Joe Cocker, Suzanne Vega, Procol Harum and Janet Jackson.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of A&M’s founding by trumpeter Herb Alpert and record promoter Jerry Moss. Among the first releases on the label was a song Alpert recorded in 1962 with his band, The Tijuana Brass, inspired by the bullfights he and Moss used to go to in Mexico.
“I was intrigued by the bass bands in the stands, announcing the bullfights,” Alpert recalls. “I was trying to capture that feeling. Jerry came up with the name.”