Jerry Moss, the co-founder of A&M Records, doesn’t like to dwell on regrets and missed opportunities, but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been promising things that have slipped through his fingers. “I think we had the opportunity to sign Neil Diamond and we couldn’t afford it at the time, but to see Neil flourish the way he has is very heartwarming,” he says during our recent webchat (watch the video interview above). He does enjoy looking back on some of the great music the label produced and singles out albums by Sting, Peter Frampton and Joe Cocker as being his personal favorites that A&M put out.
The story of the label is told in the new documentary, “Mr. A & Mr. M: The Story of A&M Records,” which recently premiered on EPIX. It spans from the founding of the label by Moss and Grammy winner Herb Alpert in 1962 until their departure from the company in 1993. During those years the label would help launch the careers of several musical legends including Sting, Frampton, Cocker, Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), The Carpenters, The Go-Go’s, Suzanne Vega, Supertramp, Carole King and Janet Jackson.
As Moss looks at the current state of the music industry, he feels a great deal of worry about the direction the industry is currently going in. “I’m very concerned. I’m not hearing new stuff. Some of the new recording ideas are well-expressed and they’re not being used.” In particular he laments the way that recordings of live concerts is not as popular as it once was. “It’s a whole other source of the business and it’s a source for people to get known and to get more access to other things.”
Looking back at the working relationship he had with with Alpert, Moss believes that it really boiled down to what was inside their hearts. “I think Herb needs somebody to tell him what he needs to do from time to time and I need somebody as well.” He adds that the lot that A&M was located on, which had once been owned by Charlie Chaplin, was the perfect place for the two to get together and keep track of each other as their offices were very close to each other.
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