LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Jerry Moss has survived cancer. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is a Bronx native who went to college in Brooklyn but found a life in California, a good one. Still, he remains a Yankees fan, a devoted one.
Above all else, however, Jerry Moss is a Music Man.
He is 75 and still talks about the joy of making records — not discs or downloads — and of hearing them for the first time. He and his partner in A&M Records, the trumpeter Herb Alpert, would sit in their office — the first one was in a garage — and from the opening notes they would know instantly if they got it right. Their smiles grew as the melody soared.
“It is the best feeling in the world,” Moss said. “I’d turn to Herbie and say, man, what in the world did we do to deserve this.”
Moss has been out of the music business for more than a decade now. He and Alpert started A&M with a few hundred dollars and a handshake in 1962, and they ended their partnership with a hug and a few hundred million apiece when they sold the company nearly 20 years later.
Moss, however, still feels plenty blessed. He is reminded of it whenever he sidles up to the big and quirky and otherworldly mare he owns named Zenyatta. She is the music in Moss and his wife Ann’s life. Zenyatta is undefeated in 19 starts and employs a give-her-rivals-a-head-start-and-everyone-holding-a-ticket-on-her-a-heart-attack running style. She has one more song in her, and it will be performed against the boys Saturday in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic.
What makes Zenyatta remarkable, the Mosses say, is her sweetness and charisma and her poise when all eyes are on her. She has the soul of an artist.