A&M Records

Last updated
A&M Records
A&M Records.svg
Parent company Universal Music Group
Founded1962;61 years ago (1962)
Founder Herb Alpert
Jerry Moss
Defunct1999;24 years ago (1999)
StatusDefunct (absorbed by Interscope and Verve Records) [1]
Distributor(s) Interscope Geffen A&M
(United States)
Polydor Records
(United Kingdom)
Country of originUnited States
Location Santa Monica, California
Hollywood, California (1966–1999)
Official website interscope.com

A&M Records was an American record label founded as an independent company by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss in 1962. Due to the success of the discography A&M released, the label garnered interest and was acquired by PolyGram in 1989 and began distributing releases from Polydor Ltd. from the UK.


PolyGram was acquired by Seagram and dissolved into Universal Music Group in 1998, and A&M's operations were ceased in January 1999 when it was merged with Geffen Records and Interscope Records to form the record company Interscope Geffen A&M Records. In 2007, Interscope Geffen A&M announced that A&M was revived as trademark and brand and was to be merged with Octone Records to form A&M Octone Records, which operated until 2014, when A&M Octone was folded into Interscope. Today, A&M's catalog releases are managed by Verve Records, Universal Music Enterprises and Interscope.

Despite the shutdown in 1999 and the name being phased out during the 2000s, present-day Sting releases continue to bear the A&M name & logo.



A&M Records was formed in 1962 by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss. [2] Their first choice for a name was Carnival Records, under which they released two singles before discovering that another label had already taken the Carnival name. The company was subsequently renamed A&M, after Alpert's and Moss's initials. From 1966 to 1999, the company's headquarters were on the grounds of the historic Charlie Chaplin Studios at 1416 North La Brea Avenue, near Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. [3]

A&M Studios Main Gate 1988 @ A&M Studios Main Gate, 11 Feb 1988.jpg
A&M Studios Main Gate 1988

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, A&M had such acts as Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Baja Marimba Band, Burt Bacharach, Antônio Carlos Jobim, Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66, Ralph Williams/The Marauders, the Sandpipers, Boyce & Hart, We Five, the Carpenters, Chris Montez, Elkie Brooks, Lee Michaels, Captain and Tennille, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Quincy Jones, Lucille Starr, Stealers Wheel, Gallagher and Lyle, Barry DeVorzon, Perry Botkin, Jr., Marc Benno, Liza Minnelli, Rita Coolidge, Gino Vannelli, Wes Montgomery, Paul Desmond, Bobby Tench, Hummingbird, Toni Basil, and Paul Williams. Folk artists Joan Baez, Phil Ochs and Gene Clark also recorded for the label during the 1970s. Billy Preston joined the label in 1971, followed by Andre Popp and Herb Ohta in 1973.

In the late 1960s, through direct signing and licensing agreements, A&M added several British artists to its roster, including Cat Stevens, Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Humble Pie, Fairport Convention, Free, the Move, Strawbs and Spooky Tooth. In the 1970s, under its manufacturing and distribution agreement with Ode Records, A&M released albums by Carole King and the comedy duo Cheech & Chong. Other notable acts of the time included Nazareth, Y&T, the Tubes, Styx, Supertramp, Joan Armatrading, Bell and James, Chris de Burgh (who went on to greater mainstream success in the 1980s), Rick Wakeman, the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, Chuck Mangione, Squeeze, and Peter Frampton. On March 10, 1977, A&M "signed" the Sex Pistols outside Buckingham Palace in a mock signing ceremony after the band had been dropped by EMI, although the real signing had actually occurred the prior day; [4] however, A&M dropped the band within a week. [5]

A&M sustained its success during the 1980s with a roster of noted acts that included Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark; Henry Badowski; Janet Jackson; the Police; Sting; the Brothers Johnson; Falco; Atlantic Starr; the Go-Go's; Bryan Adams; Suzanne Vega; Righeira; Brenda Russell; Jeffrey Osborne; Oingo Boingo; the Human League; Ozark Mountain Daredevils; Sharon, Lois & Bram; Annabel Lamb; Jim Diamond; Vital Signs; Joe Jackson; Charlie Peacock; and Scottish rock band Gun. They also, through a deal with Christian music label Myrrh, distributed back catalog recordings of Amy Grant as well as her new recordings, starting with 1985's Unguarded , to the mainstream marketplace, a vital component in her subsequent breakthrough as a mainstream artist.

Within a decade of its inception, A&M became the world's largest independent record company. [6] A&M releases were initially issued in the United Kingdom by EMI's Stateside Records label, and then under its own name by Pye Records, who released the first Herb Alpert records on the Pye International label before issuing the records on the A&M label until 1967. From 1969, A&M set up its own UK base appointing John Deacon (not to be confused with Queen's bass guitarist of the same name) as general manager, a post he held until 1979. Several A&R men were recruited including Larry Yaskiel, Derek Green and Mike Noble and major UK acts such as the Police, Supertramp, Rick Wakeman, Squeeze, Gallagher & Lyle, Elkie Brooks, the Strawbs and Peter Frampton as well as many others were all signed to the UK label. A&M releases were also issued in Australia through Festival Records until 1989. A&M Records Ltd. [7] was established in 1970, with distribution handled by other labels with a presence in Europe. A&M Records of Canada Ltd. [8] was also formed in 1970, and A&M Records of Europe in 1977. In 1979, A&M entered a distribution agreement with RCA Records in the US, [9] and with CBS Records in many other countries.

Over the years, A&M added specialty imprints: Almo International [10] for middle of the road; Omen Records (1964–1966) [11] for soul; Horizon Records [12] for jazz (1974–1978); AyM Discos [13] for Latin-American; Vendetta Records [14] for dance music (1988–1990); and Tuff Break Records for hip-hop music (1993–1995). [15]

Acquisition by PolyGram

A&M was bought by PolyGram for $500 million in 1989. [16] Alpert and Moss continued to manage the label until 1993. In 1998, Alpert and Moss sued PolyGram for breach of the integrity clause, eventually settling for an additional $200 million payment. [17]

In 1991, A&M launched Perspective Records [18] as a joint venture with producing team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Jam and Lewis stepped down as CEOs of the imprint in 1997, but they remained on as consultants. In 1999, the label was absorbed into A&M. In the mid-1990s, A&M began distributing its PolyGram sister label Polydor Records in the US. [19]

During the 1990s, the company continued to release albums by Soundgarden, Extreme, Amy Grant, John Hiatt, Sting, Blues Traveler, Barry White, and Aaron Neville, as well as material from new artists Sheryl Crow, Monster Magnet, Therapy?, CeCe Peniston, Intelligent Hoodlum, Dred Scott, Ridel High and Gin Blossoms. The company released the soundtracks Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves , The Three Musketeers , Sabrina , The Living Sea , Demolition Man , and Lethal Weapon 3 .[ citation needed ]

Universal Music Group merging and Interscope Geffen A&M

In 1998, PolyGram was bought by Seagram and merged into Universal Music Group, [20] which was formed in 1996 as the successor to MCA Music Entertainment Group, of which MCA Records had been the flagship. A&M was subsequently merged into Universal Music Group's then newly formed Interscope Geffen A&M label group. Its Canadian division was absorbed into Universal Music Canada at that time, which included Jann Arden alongside other artists from Canada.

The A&M lot on La Brea Avenue was shut down in January 1999. During the farewell celebration, the company's staff placed a black band over the A&M sign above the main entrance, indicating the death of the company. [21] The old A&M studios and executive offices are now the home of the Jim Henson Company, which operates Henson Recording Studios. Most of the company's workforce, some of whom had been with the company for a decade or more, were let go while many of its artists were dropped. The label's more prominent acts such as Sting, Sheryl Crow, Bryan Adams and Chris Cornell, however would remain on its roster.

In response to the down-sourcing, Al Cafaro stated,

This isn't about Universal or Seagram. The record business is changing fundamentally. Don't think that there are calm seas on the other side of this threshold. If the quake that devoured A&M and Geffen is a 6.0 on the Richter scale, there is a 7.0 coming in this industry. It's a Wall Street world now. Get ready. [22] [ verification needed ] [21]

A&M catalog albums that didn't fit the current pop music format (which also includes rock, rap and R&B) of their new parent division were transferred to other Universal divisions for management - for example, Verve Records now manages A&M's jazz catalog, not including Herb Alpert's recorded output which Alpert acquired in the settlement with Universal Music (however, Verve does manage the Horizon Records catalog). [23]

Despite the shutdown, the A&M name continued to be used on albums from artists like Snow Patrol, the Black Eyed Peas and Keyshia Cole—a result of Alpert and Moss's 1998 lawsuit—until February 2007, when Interscope-Geffen-A&M partnered with Octone Records to relaunch the A&M label fully. Now headed by James Diener and called A&M/Octone Records with worldwide distribution handled by parent Universal Music Group, the existing Octone roster was transferred to the A&M/Octone label and all newer artist signings were made under the A&M/Octone joint venture. [24] Acts that were already signed to the label before the merger with Octone, however, would remain on the main A&M label.

After six successful years of operation, in September 2013, Octone initiated its buy/sell rights in the joint venture, resulting in Interscope-Geffen-A&M purchasing Octone Records' 50% interest in A&M/Octone, absorbing and restructuring the artist roster into Interscope operations in 2014 as announced. [25]

Subsidiary and associated labels


Theatrical film release

See also

Related Research Articles

Geffen Records is an American record label established by David Geffen and owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M Records imprint.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">MCA Records</span> American record label owned by MCA Inc.

MCA Records was an American record label owned by MCA Inc., which later became part of Universal Music Group.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Polydor Records</span> German-British record label

Polydor Limited, also known as Polydor Records, is a German-British record label that operates as part of Universal Music Group. It has a close relationship with Universal's Interscope Geffen A&M Records label, which distributes Polydor's releases in the United States. In turn, Polydor distributes Interscope releases in the United Kingdom. Polydor Records Ltd. was established in London in 1954 as a British subsidiary of German company Deutsche Grammophon/Schallplatte Grammophon GmbH. It was renamed Polydor Ltd. in 1972. The company is usually mentioned as "Polydor Ltd. (UK)", or a similar form, for holding copyrights.

Interscope Records is an American record label based in Santa Monica, California, owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M imprint. Founded in late 1990 by Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field as a $20 million joint venture with Atlantic Records of Warner Music Group and Interscope Communications, it differed from most record labels by letting A&R staff control decisions and allowing artists and producers full creative control. Interscope's first hit records arrived in under a year, and it achieved profitability in 1993. Chair and CEO until May 2014, Iovine was succeeded by John Janick.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Verve Records</span> American record label

Verve Records is an active American record label owned by Universal Music Group (UMG). Founded in 1956 by Norman Granz, the label is home to the world's largest jazz catalogue, which includes recordings by artists such as Jon Batiste, Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Stan Getz, Bill Evans, Billie Holiday, and Oscar Peterson, among others as well as a diverse mix of other recordings that fall outside of jazz including albums from disparate artists like the Velvet Underground, Kurt Vile, Arooj Aftab, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and many more. It absorbed the catalogues of Granz's earlier label, Clef Records, founded in 1946; Norgran Records, founded in 1953; and material which was previously licensed to Mercury Records.

PolyGram N.V. was a multinational entertainment company and major music record label formerly based in the Netherlands. It was founded in 1962 as the Grammophon-Philips Group by Dutch corporation Philips and German corporation Siemens, to be a holding for their record companies, and was renamed "PolyGram" in 1972. The name was chosen to reflect the Siemens interest Polydor Records and the Philips interest Phonogram Records. The company traced its origins through Deutsche Grammophon back to the inventor of the flat disc gramophone, Emil Berliner.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jimmy Iovine</span> American entrepreneur and former music executive

James Iovine is an American entrepreneur, former record executive, and media proprietor. He is best known as the co-founder of Interscope Records. He became chairman and CEO of Interscope Geffen A&M, an umbrella music unit formed by Universal Music Group in 1999.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">PolyGram Filmed Entertainment</span> British-American film studio, film production company

PolyGram Filmed Entertainment was a film production company founded in 1975 as an American film studio, which became a European competitor to Hollywood within decades, but was eventually sold to Seagram Company Ltd. in 1998 and was folded two years later. Among its most successful and well known films were The Deep (1977), Midnight Express (1978), An American Werewolf in London (1981), Flashdance (1983), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Dead Man Walking (1995), The Big Lebowski (1998), Fargo (1996), The Usual Suspects (1995), The Game (1997) and Notting Hill (1999).

Almo Sounds was a record label which was started in 1994 by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss after they sold A&M Records to PolyGram. The intent for the label was to recreate the initial concept of A&M Records as a small, "boutique" label.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">DGC Records</span> American record label

DGC Records was an American record label that operated as a division of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, which is owned by the Universal Music Group.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Interscope Communications</span> Motion picture production company

Interscope Communications was a motion picture production company founded in 1982 by Ted Field. It soon became a division of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Perspective Records</span> American record label

Perspective Records is an American record label, launched in 1991 by the producing team Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, through a joint venture with A&M Records—which Jam & Lewis had had a prosperous working relationship with throughout the 1980s, with several of its major acts including Janet Jackson, The Human League, and label founder Herb Alpert.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Universal Music Publishing Group</span> American music publishing company

Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) is a global music publishing company and is part of the Universal Music Group. Universal Music Publishing has been ranked the #1 music publisher in market share by Billboard for multiple consecutive quarters.

Jerome Sheldon Moss was an American recording executive, best known for being the co-founder of A&M Records, along with trumpet player and bandleader Herb Alpert.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ted Field</span> American media mogul (born 1953)

Frederick Woodruff "Ted" Field is an American media mogul, record executive, entrepreneur and film producer.

<i>Greatest Hits 1976–1986</i> 1992 greatest hits album by Elton John

Greatest Hits 1976–1986 is a collection of hits by Elton John released in the United States only by MCA Records in 1992. It replaced an earlier compilation, Geffen's 1987 release Elton John's Greatest Hits Vol. 3. This was necessitated because of a shift in the control of copyrights and a resulting reshuffling of compilation albums.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gramercy Pictures</span> American production company label owned by Comcast through Focus Features

Gramercy Pictures was an American film production label. It was founded on May 20, 1992 as a joint venture between PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and Universal Pictures. Gramercy was the distributor of PolyGram films in the United States and Canada and also served as Universal's art-house division. After Seagram's buyout of PolyGram, Gramercy along with October Films and Interscope Communications were merged by Barry Diller to form USA Films in 1999. On May 20, 2015, Focus Features revived the name as a label for action, horror and sci-fi genre films; the label was shut down after the release of Ratchet & Clank on April 29, 2016.

Interscope Geffen A&M Records (IGA), is an American umbrella label owned by Universal Music Group. It currently consists of record labels Interscope Records and Geffen Records.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">A&M Octone Records</span> Record label

A&M Octone Records was an American record label owned as a joint venture between Universal Music Group and Octone Records. A full-service artist development label, it was founded in 2007 as a merger between Octone and Interscope Geffen A&M's defunct A&M Records label. For its six years of existence, A&M Octone operated music publishing, merchandising, and touring entities, in addition to specializing in recorded music.

Chuck Kaye born Charles Aye was an American retired music industry executive, noted for his tenures at A&M Records, Warner/Chappell Music, and DreamWorks Records, working in areas as diverse as Artists and Repretoire (A&R), music publishing, and corporate governance.


  1. Hilburn, Robert and, Phillips, Chuck (January 22, 1999). "A&M Records Closes; Geffen Lays of". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 27, 2015.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. Billboard Books. ISBN   9780823076772.
  3. "A&M Album Discography". www.bsnpubs.com.
  4. "The Sex Pistols signed with A&M outside Buckingham Palace 35 years ago today".
  5. Southall, Brian (2007). Sex Pistols: 90 Days at EMI. Bobcat Books Ltd., London. pp. 138–9. ISBN   978-1-84609-779-9.
  6. "Independent record labels roll over as the conglomerates go rocking on". The Independent. January 25, 1999. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  7. "A&M Records Ltd". On A&M Records.com. 2007.
  8. "A&M Records Canada". On A&M Records.com. 2003.
  9. Passman, Donald. "Pressing & Distribution Deals". taxi.com. Taxi: The World's Leading Independent A&R Company. Retrieved December 20, 2015.
  10. "Almo International". On A&M Records.com. 2003.
  11. "Omen Records". On A&M Records.com. 2007.
  12. "Horizon Records History". On A&M Records.com. 2003.
  13. "AyM Discos History". On A&M Records.com. 2003.
  14. "Vendetta Records". On A&M Records.com. 2007.
  15. "Tuff Break". On A&M Records.com. 2007.
  16. "PolyGram Announces Acquisition of A&M Records". AP NEWS. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  17. "Herb Alpert's Vivendi Deal Has $200-Million Encore Performance". Los Angeles Times . March 12, 2003. Archived from the original on July 21, 2020.
  18. "Perspective Records". On A&M Records.com. 2006.
  19. "At Polygram NV's first annual meeting as..." Los Angeles Times. May 2, 1990.
  20. "Seagram buys PolyGram from Philips for $10.6bn" . The Independent . May 22, 1998. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  21. 1 2 Gumbel, Andrew (January 25, 1999). "Independent record labels roll over as the conglomerates go rocking on". The Independent . Los Angeles. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  22. Black Thursday: A&M Shuts Its Doors
  23. "Herb Alpert". Shout! Factory. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2011.
  24. Martens, Todd (February 20, 2007). "Interscope Geffen A&M Shifting To Octone". Billboard . Los Angeles: The Nielsen Company. Archived from the original on February 23, 2007. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  25. "Interscope Geffen A&M Acquires Remaining Share of A&M/Octone Records". Billboard.