Legendary music executive Jerry Moss, a co-founder of A&M Records whose roster included such hit acts as Janet Jackson, The Police, Sting, the Carpenters and Sheryl Crow, died Wednesday. He was 88 years old.
The death was attributed to natural causes, said Moss’ widow, Tina Morse, per the Associated Press, which also reported that Moss died at his home in Bel Air, California, via a statement from his family.
“They truly don’t make them like him anymore and we will miss conversations with him about everything under the sun, the twinkle in his eyes as he approached every moment ready for the next adventure,” according to the statement,
Moss co-founded A&M Records with trumpeter Herb Albert, who would also record for the label, in 1962, Rolling Stone reported–their surnames made up the ‘A’ and ‘M’ in A&M Records. The initial plan for their then-new partnership, as both men told the magazine in 2012, was to release Alpert’s “Tell It to yhe Birds” and Charlie Robinson’s “Love Is Back in Style,” which had a trumpet solo by Alpert. A&M Records co-founder Jerry Moss.
“Herb’s record was a hit. It sold several thousand copies, which was enough to get us going,” Moss told Rolling Stone at the time.
A&M Records signed some of music’s popular acts in the following decades, including Joe Cocker, Styx, Joe Jackson, Squeeze, Suzanne Vega, the Human League, Cat Stevens, Amy Grant and Soundgarden. Among the label’s smash hit albums were Carole King’s Tapestry, Jackson’s Control, The Police’s Synchronicity, Bryan Adams’ Reckless and Peter Frampton’s “Frampton Comes Alive!” Even Alpert himself found success on A&M with his 1965 album Whipped Cream & Other Delights and his 1979 single “Rise.”
Moss was born in Brooklyn, New York, and got his start in the music business doing radio promotion for Coed Records, per Variety. He later moved to California and launched an independent record promotion company; his work as a record producer brought him in contact with Alpert, both of whom started A&M in Alpert’s garage. “We had a huge advantage,” Alpert told Rolling Stone in 2012. “There was no board of directors – just Jerry and myself. We made decisions quickly, and signed artists we liked.”
In 1989, A&M was sold to Polygram for $500 million, and Moss and Alpert continued with the label until 1993, Variety reported. The two executives were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
“What we built we’re very proud of,” Moss told music writer Barney Hoskyns for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s program notes. “We were able to communicate with people that the label really meant something unique in the music world.”
Some of the artists who were on the roster paid tribute to Moss on social media following the news of his death.
“I am so sorry to hear Jerry Moss has left us,” Peter Frampton wrote on Twitter (now known as X). “Jerry was a true gentleman and if it weren’t for him, so many lives might have turned out very differently…He loved great music and went out of his way to make a place where artists could find themselves and create with his lovely encouragement and patience. I love you, Jerry, and my thoughts are with wife Tina and the entire family. Rest now my dear friend.”
(1/2) I am so sorry to hear Jerry Moss has left us. Jerry was a true gentleman and if it weren’t for him, so many lives might have turned out very differently.— Peter Frampton (@peterframpton) August 16, 2023
“A gentleman, a mentor, a friend, and utterly irreplaceable,” Sting shared in an Instagram post that featured a photo of him and Moss. “A devastating loss.”
“Jerry Moss was an honest man,” tweeted Yusuf/Cat Stevens, “and was a great patron of musical talent. It was at his Malibu house I re-connected with God, out there in the Ocean. May he rest in peace. #jerrymoss”
Jerry Moss was an honest man, and was a great patron of musical talent. It was at his Malibu house I re-connected with God, out there in the Ocean. May he rest in peace. #jerrymoss pic.twitter.com/WjcmCAT5ne— Yusuf / Cat Stevens (@YusufCatStevens) August 17, 2023
Former Police guitarist Andy Summers also wrote about Moss via X: “Very sad to hear of the passing of the great Jerry Moss. He was a kind, clever and thoughtful man who was fun to be around and be involved with. It never felt like business but rather a fruitful and creative partnership. He will be missed. Thanks Jerry.”