Jerry Moss, the ‘M’ of A&M Data, dies at 88


Jerry Moss, the report government who was the “M” within the seminal West Coast label A&M Data, has died. He was 88.

His dying was introduced Wednesday by his household. “Our, husband, father, grandfather/nice grandfather and pal died peacefully … in his dwelling in Bel Air, CA,” the assertion learn.

A&M, the label Moss co-founded in 1962 with trumpeter and bandleader Herb Alpert, was dwelling to most of the bestselling acts of the rock period, together with the Carpenters, Cat Stevens, Joe Cocker, the Police, Styx, Peter Frampton and Soundgarden. Such success was the byproduct of A&M being designed as a secure haven for artists, a label that constructed careers by permitting musicians to take dangers.

Moss was central to cultivating that fame, serving to to remodel A&M from an easy-listening label to a critical power in album-oriented rock ’n’ roll. Cultivating connections with British report labels and increasing his A&R employees, Moss set A&M on a path that led to such era-defining albums as 1976’s mega-selling double LP “Frampton Comes Alive!”

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Herb Alpert, left, and Jerry Moss circa 1970.

(Michael Ochs Archives)

It wasn’t the one time Moss tailored to suit the occasions. He helped reshape A&M’s roster within the late Nineteen Seventies, bringing in new wave acts the Police and Joe Jackson whereas additionally discovering house for the fashionable R&B of Janet Jackson.

Alpert and Moss offered A&M to Polygram in 1989 for a reported $500 million. They remained on the label however clashed with Polygram administration and left in 1993.

In 1994, they shaped a brand new label, Almo Sounds, releasing albums by Rubbish, Ozomatli and Gillian Welch over the course of 5 years.

Moss and Alpert have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Corridor of Fame in 2006 as nonperformers.

In 2020, Moss and his spouse, Tina, gave $25 million to the Music Heart, the most important reward earmarked for programming within the group’s historical past.

The Music Heart plaza that hyperlinks the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Mark Taper Discussion board and the Ahmanson Theatre was named Jerry Moss Plaza.

“I contemplate myself a music man, and I wish to have fun that at this stage of my life,” Moss mentioned on the time.

Moss’ life was celebrated earlier this yr at a tribute live performance held on the Mark Taper Discussion board that featured appearances by Alpert, Frampton, Sting, Rita Coolidge and Amy Grant.

On the live performance, reported Billboard, tributes flowed freely. Alpert mentioned, “To be sincere, I don’t suppose I might have had the musical profession with out Jerry Moss,” a sentiment echoed by Frampton: “Thanks, Jerry Moss, for my whole profession.” Sting referred to as Moss “an elder brother, a sensible head, a person’s man and a mensch.”

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Janet Jackson and Jerry Moss in 1986.

(Lester Cohen / Getty Photos)

Born within the Bronx, N.Y. on Might 8, 1935, Jerome Sheldon Moss got here of age in the course of the Nice Despair. A graduate of Brooklyn School, Moss served within the Military previous to starting his profession within the music enterprise. Employed by Coed Data to advertise “16 Candles,” a dreamy doo-wop ballad by the Crests, Moss helped get the report onto the charts; it reached No. 2 on the Billboard Sizzling 100 in 1959.

The success of “16 Candles” impressed Moss to maneuver to Los Angeles in 1960. He spent a pair years working as an impartial promoter and producer, working in circles that finally led him to satisfy Alpert. Recent from a severed partnership with Lou Adler, Alpert was desperate to get into enterprise with Moss. The 2 sealed their partnership with a handshake and a $100 stake in their very own impartial report label.

Calling their new enterprise Carnival Data, the pair launched “Inform It to the Birds,” a pop trifle credited to “Dore Alpert” that acquired some airplay in Los Angeles in 1962. Shortly after its launch, the pair realized of one other label of the identical identify, in order that they renamed their enterprise A&M Data. The primary single launched underneath the A&M banner was Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass’ “The Lonely Bull,” a jazz instrumental with a mariachi aptitude that turned a nationwide hit, reaching No. 6 on Billboard’s Sizzling 100 in 1962.

After the fast begin, A&M settled into the workaday enterprise of an indie label, balancing Alpert releases with singles primarily aimed toward jazz and pop markets, though they did additionally launch early works by Waylon Jennings, Leon Russell and Terry Stafford. A&M didn’t have one other vital success till 1965, when Alpert embraced pop on “Whipped Cream & Different Delights,” an album as well-known for its provocative album cowl depicting a mannequin slathered in whipped cream because it was for its swinging rendition of “A Style of Honey.” “Whipped Cream & Different Delights” began a outstanding streak of 5 No. 1 albums for Alpert, hits that turned the label right into a powerhouse.

Within the wake of “Whipped Cream,” A&M moved its operations from a storage to the Charlie Chaplin Studios on La Brea Avenue. They saved their intention firmly on the pop mainstream, having hits with Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 — an act that sounded uncannily just like the Tijuana Brass — whereas focusing on youthful listeners with the folk-rock outfit We 5 (“You Had been on My Thoughts”) and Boyce and Hart, who graduated from Monkees songwriters to pop stars with “I Marvel What She’s Doing Tonight.”

Moss acknowledged that, whereas profitable, these information have been decidedly un-hip, a realization underscored by his attendance at 1967’s landmark Monterey Worldwide Pop Competition, that includes rock acts from Jimi Hendrix to Janis Joplin. In 2010, he recalled: “There was all this nice music and new expertise on the market, and I used to be embarrassed we hadn’t signed any of them.”’

Whereas A&M didn’t abandon mainstream pop — certainly one of its largest acts within the Nineteen Seventies was the easy-listening duo the Carpenters — the label did begin to construct an adventurous roster beginning with the Flying Burrito Brothers, the pioneering country-rock band fronted by former Byrds members Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons. Moss mentioned later, “The Burritos actually touched me. They set a course for us in America, that we have been open and out there and aggressive on this space.” Though the Flying Burrito Brothers didn’t have business success, they did sign to different artists that A&M was now not solely about middle-of-the-road pop.

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Jerry Moss, left, and Herb Alpert in 1974.

(Michael Putland / Getty Photos)

Quickly, A&M’s roster was full of rock artists, lots of whom hailed from England, akin to Joe Cocker and Humble Pie, the blues-rock band from former Small Faces singer Steve Marriott. As A&M cultivated this album-oriented rock roster, it additionally signed a distribution take care of Ode Data, an imprint headed by Alpert’s one-time accomplice Adler, an association that hit pay filth when Carole King’s “Tapestry” turned one of many biggest-selling albums of the Nineteen Seventies.

“Tapestry” was joined on that checklist by “Frampton Comes Alive!,” a dwell double LP from the previous Humble Pie guitarist. High-sellers Styx and Supertramp additionally saved A&M on rock radio into the Eighties, however the label didn’t restrict itself to anybody style; it additionally launched R&B from Billy Preston, jazz from Chuck Mangione and information from Quincy Jones that bridged the 2 kinds.

A&M embraced the rise of latest wave within the late Nineteen Seventies and early Eighties, signing such acts because the Police, Squeeze and Joe Jackson. The label buttressed its reference to the rock underground by signing a distribution take care of I.R.S. Data, an association that introduced the corporate the Go-Go’s, R.E.M., the English Beat and Effective Younger Cannibals. A&M additionally inked offers with the brand new age imprint Windham Hill and launched pop-oriented information from Amy Grant, the most important act on the Christian label Myrrh.

A&M’s largest hits in the course of the Eighties belonged to Sting, both on his personal or with the Police, and Janet Jackson, whose “Management” and “Rhythm Nation 1814” albums modified the course of R&B music and elevated her to a stage of stardom similar to her brother Michael.

Regardless of this success, Moss and Alpert acknowledged that the music trade was altering, with worldwide companies muscling out impartial outfits like theirs. In 1989, they offered A&M to the Dutch firm PolyGram. They remained on as A&M’s high executives, however this association swiftly soured, and Moss and Alpert left the corporate in 1993. The pair sued PolyGram in 1998, claiming a breach of the integrity clause; they might settle the case for $200 million.

Not lengthy after leaving PolyGram, Moss was recognized with prostate most cancers. As soon as given a clear invoice of well being, he and Alpert launched a brand new label, Almo Sounds, which primarily specialised in various rock; their biggest success was with the Scottish American band Rubbish.

An artwork collector who owned items by Magritte, Picasso, Warhol and Basquiat, Moss cultivated many pursuits outdoors music. Chief amongst these was horse racing and breeding. Named to the California Horse Racing Board in 2004, Moss owned Giacomo, a horse named after Sting’s son that received the 2005 Kentucky Derby.

Moss was additionally lively as a philanthropist. He established the Moss Students program at UCLA in 2004 and was a founding trustee of the Geffen Playhouse.

Moss is survived by his spouse of eight years, Tina; 4 youngsters — Ron, Jennifer, Harrison and Daniela; 5 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.


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