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Sorry, Aggie friends!  I hope that the title wasn’t misleading.  This post doesn’t have anything to do with your beloved university, although, while I’m at it, I would sincerely like to say that it’s great to have you in the SEC.  The excellence of your football program has been immediately felt in the conference, you made quite a statement when you knocked off top-ranked Alabama on their home field a couple of weeks ago, and Johnny Football is the real deal.  Welcome!

As indicated by the accompanying logo, this post concerns A&M Records which was founded in 1962.  That’s right!  A&M and I were born the same year, and we sort of grew up together.

I occasionally mention in blog posts that music was a big part of my adolescence.  I was never extremely outgoing when I was growing up, “a bit of a brooder,” as one of my high school friends remembers.  I was pleasant enough, always had a group of friends, and used athletics as a social outlet, but I was naturally quite introverted (still am).  I really didn’t mind spending time alone, especially if it was spent listening to music.

Do you remember cabinet stereos?  Mom and Dad had an incredible cabinet stereo (RCA, I believe), complete with a turntable, AM/FM tuner, reel-to-reel tape deck, and a great set of speakers.  It must have been six feet (maybe more) in length and was well-crafted from quality materials.  It was actually a beautiful piece of furniture.  It also had a headphone jack, which allowed me to lay on the floor in front of the stereo with tunes from my favorites bands playing directly (and loudly) into my ears without any parental admonitions to “turn that music down!”

Included in my parents’ record collection that I remember as a little boy in the late 1960s were several albums by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.  The A&M Records emblem on the album covers bore the image of a trumpet, but I never made the connection between the logo and Alpert, a world-class trumpeter and composer.  As I learned from a story on NPR last week marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of A&M, it was Alpert himself who formed the label in 1962 with recording executive Jerry Moss.  Alpert is the “A” and Moss is the “M” in A&M.  Who knew?

A&M recorded numerous artists whose music found their way into the storage compartment of my parents’ cabinet stereo, including Herb Alpert, Burt Bacharach, and the Carpenters.  But the label continued to grow and expand exponentially in the ’70s and ’80s, signing performers that would make it into my album collection, A&M artists like Peter Frampton, Styx, the Police, Supertramp, and others.

I won’t detail all of the corporate buyouts, mergers, and lawsuits that ultimately affected the record label in subsequent years, but the NPR story brought back some great childhood memories for me, informed me of Alpert’s role in the founding of the company, and caused me to reflect on music’s ongoing influence in my life.

So, “Happy Birthday, A&M!”  I’m glad that we both made it to 50, at least in some semblance of our former selves!

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January 2023