Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
Whipped Cream and Other Delights
Born of Jewish immigrant parents on March 31, 1935, in the Boyle Heights section of East Los Angeles, Herb Alpert began trumpet lessons at the age of eight and played dances during his teenage years. After graduating from Fairfax High School in 1952 and a year at USC, he enlisted in the US Army where he organized a marching band.
Discharged from the Army in 1956, he met Lou Adler another aspiring songwriter. The two pooled their efforts and by 1959, were hired by Keen Records as staff writers for $35 a week. It was at Keen where they met Sam Cooke, who co-wrote with them his 1960 hit, Wonderful World. When Cooke left for RCA, Alpert and Adler moved on to independent record production. They made the rounds of the Los Angeles independent record labels, hoping to find a sympathetic ear for their original songs. When they got to Specialty Records, they met Sonny Bono, then the head of Specialty’s artists and repertory department and he assessed their talent with characteristic abruptness. “You guys ought to get out of the business,” he told them, “because you don’t have it.” (1)
Still, they wrote some songs and also produced an album for Jan & Dean at Dore Records. When Jan & Dean left Dore for greener pastures, Alpert and Adler decided to split up.
Adler eventually founded Dunhill Records where he produced The Mamas & The Papas, Barry McGuire, the Grass Roots and Three Dog Night. He also produced a number of live albums for Johnny Rivers as well The Monterey International Pop Festival.
For Alpert, he now had a wife and a son to support. He tried acting where he landed a few roles as he continued to write. He met RCA producer Dick Pierce who preferred his singing and signed Alpert to a recording contract. Herb recorded a number of songs under the name Dore Alpert but met with little success.
Enter Jerry Moss, who was born on May 8, 1935, in New York City. He worked his way through college, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Brooklyn College. After college, he entered the U.S. Army and was discharged in August of 1958. He was hired by record promotion man Marvin Cane at $75 per week to hype records to radio stations on the east coast. His first assignment was to promote Sixteen Candles by the Crests. Moss didn't think much of the recording, but he worked hard promoting the record up and down the East Coast. In January 1959, the song rose to the No. 2 spot in the Billboard charts, due in large part to the efforts of Moss.
Moss worked for a year and a half with Cane before moving to California in the spring of 1960 to become a record promo man on the West Coast. After some success, he started producing records on the side.
In 1961, Moss met Herb Alpert, and was impressed with his trumpet playing. Moss asked Alpert to play on a song he was producing called Love Is Back In Style. Herb obliged and then shared with Moss a song he had been working on called Tell It To the Birds. Moss suggested that the two form a partnership, and each put up $100. They called their new firm Carnival Records. In early 1962, they released Carnival 701, Tell It To the Birds backed with Fallout Shelter under the name Dore Alpert. The record attracted the attention of Dot Records who bought the master for $750 and released it on Dot.
Using the money obtained from Dot, Herb Alpert rigged up a recording studio in his garage in West Hollywood as both he and Moss started working on a song called Twinkle Star written by a bandleader friend, Sol Lake. While attending a bullfight in Tijuana Mexico, Alpert noticed a Mariachi band introducing the matador, which triggered an idea for Moss and Alpert. Using the song Twinkle Star, Alpert overdubbed a second, slightly out of sync trumpet part directly on top of his original and produced a new song with a totally different feel. Moss came up with the new title for the song, calling it The Lonely Bull. (2)
The song was recorded at Conway Recording studios in Los Angeles on October 29, 1962 using members of the highly regarded Wrecking Crew, including Bill Pitman on guitar and Earl Palmer on drums. (3) Engineer Ted Keep added authentic bullring crowd noises from a sound effects record and The Lonely Bull by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass was ready to be released. When Herb and Jerry discovered they could not use the Carnival name because of prior usage by another record company, they used the first initial of their last names and called their new company A & M Records.
The single The Lonely Bull peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 8, 1962. (4) The LP of the same title hit as high as #10 on the album chart and stayed for an incredible 157 weeks. (5)
Alpert and the Brass scored equally as well with their second album South Of The Border released on January 6, 1965. This time, the LP topped at #6 and stayed on the chart for 163 weeks. (6) Then came the album that is still talked about today.
Whipped Cream & Other Delights, featured members of the Wrecking Crew and was released on September 25, 1965. The top single, Taste Of Honey topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #7. (7) The album, which sold over six million copies, featured the songs Whipped Cream and Lollipops And Roses, which were played extensively on ABC-TV’s The Dating Game.
But the album was more than just music as the cover featured a young lady covered in what appeared to be whipped cream sitting rather seductively. As Herb Alpert remembers it, he was in a recording studio one day in 1965 when Peter Whorf, the art director for A&M showed him the photograph that would soon grace one of the most memorable LP covers of all time. “My first reaction was, 'Holy shit, man. Too racy,'” Alpert says. “Obviously now it would hardly register, but at the time I thought, 'Wow, that’s a little much.' And I didn’t know, quite frankly, whether it reflected the album -- the music I was doing at the time. But we decided to go with it. Obviously that was fortuitous.” (8)
Photo courtesy of raillex from Album Art Exchange
Dolores Erickson, a model for The Ford Agency, was married and 28-years-old at the time. She had known Peter Whorf from working with him previously on other album covers and he was engaged to Erickson’s best friend. When she got the call from Whorf to do the album cover, she came to his garage, which had been converted to a photography studio and the cover was shot in one day.
Although Erickson appears not to be wearing anything, she had been wrapped in a white, cotton Christmas tree blanket and had on a bikini bottom underneath all the “cream.” She was also three months pregnant at the time.
Photographer and cover designer Whorf did a masterful job at hiding Erickson’s pregnancy. One problem: they could not use whipped cream because it kept sliding off. The solution? Shaving cream, which adhered better to Erickson’s body. The only bit of whipped cream is on her head and fingers. (9)
How did a 2006 New Yorker magazine article explain the impact of that photo? It fogged the minds of many young men, as they gazed at the album cover and attempted to ascribe personalized come-hitherhood to the woman staring back. In the picture, she sits holding the stem of a rose in her left hand, above which the inner portion of a bare breast protrudes from the foam. She is licking cream from the index finger of her right hand, and a dollop of the stuff rests atop her forehead, like a tiara… The Whipped Cream Girl, as she came to be known, helped make Alpert and his Tijuana Brass even more famous than his loungy arrangements, smooth trumpet work, and suave song production destined them to be. The album shot to No. 1 and stayed on the charts for more than three years. Alpert would say, when performing live, “Sorry, but I can’t play the cover for you.” (10)
Now in her eighties, Erickson accepts the attention gracefully. When asked about being known as the “Whipped Cream” girl, she said, “It seems more important than I ever thought it would be. It’s Herb’s album, his music. It’s very humbling to be part of it all. They tell me it’s the world’s most famous album cover. So I just graciously accept the compliment.” (11)
“To this day, people come up to me and tell me how much they love the album,” Alpert wrote in the liner notes of a reissue in 2005 for the album’s 40th anniversary. “And then there are those who come up and say they really, really love the album cover!” (12)
Here’s a look at the new 2005 CD reissue cover, featuring model Bree Condon.
Photo courtesy of Shout Factory
This video features the road band, The Tijuana Brass including Herb Alpert on trumpet, Toni Kalish on 2nd trumpet, Bob Edmonson on trombone, John Pisano on guitar, Pat Senator on bass, Lou Pagani on piano, and drummer Nick Ceroli. The recorded version of Taste Of Honey was dubbed over the performance.
Delores Erickson appeared on a number of album covers in 60s. You may remember some of these.
Photos courtesy of Album Art Exchange
This image of Delores appeared in Performing Songwriter dated April 1, 2014.
1) Bruce Fessier, The Desert Sun, October 27, 2016, Herb Alpert disproved Sonny Bono's dire prediction by a long shot.
2) Patrice Eyries, Dave Edwards & Mike Callahan, Both Sides Now, A & M album discography, Link
3) Facebook, The Wrecking Crew. Link
4) Joel Whitburn, Billboard Hot 100 Charts, The Sixties
5) Joel Whitburn, Billboard Top Pop Albums 1955-2001, Page 15
8) Bruce Handy, Billboard Magazine, May 20, 2016, The Real Story Behind Herb Alpert's Iconic 'Whipped Cream & Other Delights' Album Cover, 50 Years Later, Link
9) Stuff Nobody Cares About, Outtake Photos From The Sexiest Album Cover of The 1960’s, Link
10) Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, March 13, 2005, Herb Alpert’s ‘Whipped Cream Lady’ now 76, living in Longview and looking back. Link
11) Performing Songwriter, Lydia Hutchinson, April 1, 2014, Herb Alpert’s “Whipped Cream” Cover Girl, Link
12) Leslie Slape, The Daily News, August 14, 2012, Meet 'Whipped Cream' cover girl today, Link
No member of the Tijuana Brass was Hispanic. Alpert used to tell his audiences that the band consisted of four lasagnas, two bagels, and an American cheese.
Photo courtesy of Billboard Magazine