A&M Records  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A&M Records was formed in 1962 by Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss. Their first choice for a name was “Carnival Records,” under which they released two singles, before discovering another label had taken the Carnival name first. The company was subsequently renamed “A&M,” after Alpert’s and Moss’s initials.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, A&M was among the leading purveyors of ‘light’ pop music, with such acts as: Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Baja Marimba Band, Burt Bacharach, Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, We Five, Carpenters, Chris Montez, Captain and Tennille, Quincy Jones, and Paul Williams; folk legends Joan Baez and Phil Ochs were with the label during the 1970s. However, the label also found success in R&B and funk thanks to piano great Billy Preston who joined the label in 1971. The Carpenters, however, remain the label's most successful act of the 1970s with upwards of 100 million albums sold worldwide.

In the late 1960s, A&M added British artists through direct signing and licensing agreements. These artists include Joe Cocker, Procol Harum, Fairport Convention, The 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 and Chong. Other notable acts of the time included: Nazareth, The Tubes, Styx, Supertramp, Squeeze and Peter Frampton.

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 until 1967. A&M Records, Ltd. was established in 1970, with distribution handled by other labels with a presence in Europe. A&M Records of Canada, Ltd. was also formed in 1970, and A&M Records of Europe in 1977.

In the late 1970s, A&M recognized the potential in the burgeoning English punk movement and on March 10 1977 signed the Sex Pistols after the band had been dropped by EMI. However, A&M themselves sacked the band within a week.

Within a decade of its inception, A&M became the world's largest independent record company. In 1979, A&M entered a distribution agreement with RCA Records (which later became BMG).

A&M’s success sustained during the 1980s with noted acts that included: Janet Jackson, Atlantic Starr, The Police, Suzanne Vega, Oingo Boingo, Annabel Lamb, Bryan Adams, and Joe Jackson.

See also

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