He began trumpet lessons at about the age of 8 and played at dances as a teenager. After high school, he joined the U.S. Army and frequently performed at military ceremonies.
While attending the University of Southern California in the 1950s, he was a member of the USC Trojan Marching Band for 2 years.
Starting in the 1960s, his groundbreaking musical flavor catapulted Latino-style pop into the public eye. He has won eight Grammy awards, fifteen gold albums and fourteen platinum, and at one point his music outsold that of the Beatles by two to one. In 1966, he was recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for having five albums (all with the Brass) in the Top 20 of the Billboard album charts simultaneously, an unprecedented feat. In April of that year, four of those albums were in the Top 10 simultaneously.
Currently, his creative energies are focused on abstract expressionist painting, and Broadway theatre. His production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America won a Tony award. He also funds the Herb Alpert Foundation for artistic training.