Herb Alpert set up a small recording studio in his garage and had been overdubbing a tune called "Twinkle Star", written by Sol Lake, who would eventually write many of the Brass's original tunes. During a visit to Tijuana, Mexico, Alpert happened to hear a mariachi band while attending a bullfight. Following the experience, Alpert recalled that he was inspired to find a way to express musically what he felt while watching the wild responses of the crowd, and hearing the brass musicians introducing each new event with rousing fanfare. Alpert adapted the trumpet style to the tune, mixed in crowd cheers and other noises for ambience, and renamed the song "The Lonely Bull".
He personally funded the production of the record as a single, and it spread through radio DJ's until it caught on and became a Top 10 hit in the Fall of 1962. He followed up quickly with his debut album, The Lonely Bull by "Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass". Originally the Tijuana Brass was just Alpert overdubbing his own trumpet, slightly out of sync. The title cut reached No. 6 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart. This was A&M's first album with the original release number being #101, although it was recorded at Conway Records. For this album and subsequent releases, Alpert recorded with the group of L.A. session musicians known as The Wrecking Crew, whom he holds in high regard.