Born on December 13, 1933, in Chicago, IL; married Shelly Fabares, 1964 (divorced); married Page Hannah, 1992; children: seven sons. Addresses: Business--Roxy Theatre, 9009 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069, phone: (310) 276-2222.
Lou Adler began his career in music in the late 1950s as a writer, producer, and manager. He went on to found several record companies and produce some of the twentieth century's most memorable music and comedic talent. He is most notably responsible for producing Carole King's wildly successful album Tapestry. He also played a major role in the careers of the Mamas and the Papas, Jan and Dean, and the comedic team Cheech and Chong.
Adler was born on December 13, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois. At some point Adler's family moved to California, and Adler grew up in the largely Hispanic area known as the Boyle Heights District in East Los Angeles. His early years in the music industry found him working with the music publisher Screen Gems as well as Colpix and Dimension. In the late 1950s he became a manager, producer, and songwriter for Herb Alpert, who would later record chart-topping instrumental albums. One of their early acts was the California duo of Jan & Dean. Adler is credited with encouraging Jan Berry to pursue the surf-inspired sound that would later make Jan & Dean into music legends. Adler's work with Jan & Dean helped drive the duo to perfect their sound, which was modeled on that of the Beach Boys. Adler and Alpert also scored a hit for soul singer Sam Cooke with the song "Only Sixteen," which was written under the pseudonym Barbara Campbell.
Formed Dunhill Records
In 1964 Adler decided to strike out on his own, and dissolved his partnership with Alpert. He formed his own record company, called Dunhill Records. At Dunhill, Adler worked on singles for Shelley Fabares, to whom he was married for several years, including her hit song, "Johnny Angel." As the sound of popular music began moving away from the sweet innocence found in performers like Fabares or the breezy joy of Jan & Dean, Adler remained in touch with the direction and sensibilities of the new breed of musicians.
In 1965 Adler produced Barry McGuire's album Eve of Destruction, with its chart-topping title track. One of McGuire's contacts was a group of singers composed of Cass Elliot, John Phillips, Michelle Phillips, and Denny Doherty. McGuire brought them to the recording studio to meet Adler, and once Adler heard them perform, he signed them to record the album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears. Between 1966 and 1967 the Mamas and the Papas hit the top ten six times.
In 1966 Adler sold Dunhill to ABC for a substantial profit and went on to found Ode records. In 1967 Adler and John Phillips worked with several other visionary producers to put together the Monterey Pop Festival. Adler worked with Scott McKenzie to record "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" as an anthem for what turned out to be a watershed event in pop music history. The free concert featured rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, singer Janis Joplin, and the English rock band The Who. Adler filmed and recorded the festival and became a wealthy man from the royalties produced by the event.
A Tapestry of Artists
Adler worked with the Mamas and the Papas up to 1968 and their release The Papas and the Mamas. Around that time Carole King was looking for work as a solo recording artist, and Adler quickly signed her to Ode. While her first two efforts showcased her talents as both a singer and songwriter, her third album, Tapestry, would prove to an overwhelming success. Adler sensed early on that Tapestry would be a winner. He explained to Entertainment Weekly, "Love Story was a big movie at the time, and I remember saying 'this is our Love Story,' in terms that it would be people's love stories and that it would be a success." Hits from that album included "You've Got A Friend," "So Far Away," and "It's Too Late." The album won four Grammy Awards in 1972, including Record of the Year and Album of the Year.
Adler went on to produce King until she left Ode in the late 1970s. During that decade Adler did more than produce for King. He discovered and started producing comedy records for a couple of comedians out of Los Angeles known as Cheech and Chong. Their comedy routine centered on the drug culture of the day, with a major focus on marijuana. Adler knew an opportunity when he saw it, and signed the duo. For the rest of the 1970s Cheech and Chong were the most popular stoners in America. Albums that Adler produced for them included Big Bambu, Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album, and the soundtrack for the film produced by Adler, Up In Smoke.
By the time Up In Smoke was released, Adler had already gotten some experience producing films. In 1974 he was in England when he saw the stage version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. He immediately bought the American rights, brought it to the United States, and became executive producer for the film when it came out in 1975. His gamble on the off-kilter comedy paid off, with the film rising to cult status by the late 1980s and continuing to run at midnight showings in theaters well into the new millennium.
Focused on Children
Incredibly diversified, Adler is also the owner of the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood, California. In 1974 he brought the American stage production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show to the Roxy Theatre. Located on Sunset Strip, the venue was once a strip club but was recast as a bar, club, and theater for plays. In 1993 he and actress Shelly Duvall started a label called Ode 2 Kids, which focused on music for children. Records released on that label included Waylon Jennings's Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals, and Dirt and Cheech Marin's My Name is Cheech, the School Bus Driver.
In 1992, Alder, who had divorced Fabares in the 1960s, married Page Hannah, sister of actress Daryl Hannah. Adler and Hannah have two sons together, and continue to be active in charities, particularly ones that benefit children. In 2002 the couple helped found the Painted Turtle, a camp that serves the needs of children with life-threatening illnesses, as well as those of their families. While still involved with music in many ways, Adler has begun to contribute much more of his time and energy to children's causes. His name will always be a part of rock and roll history, particularly associated with the time of change and experimentation that was the 1960s and 1970s.
by Eve Hermann
Lou Adler's Career
Co-wrote and produced with Herb Alpert, 1957-59; managed Jan & Dean, late 1950s; formed Dunhill Records, 1964; signed the Mamas and the Papas, 1965; sold Dunhill to ABC, 1966; founded Ode Records; produced Monterey Pop Festival with John Phillips, 1967; signed Carole King to Ode, 1968; produced King albums, 1968-76; produced for Cheech and Chong, 1970s; bought American rights to Rocky Horror Picture Show, produced it in U.S. for stage and film, 1974; directed and produced Up In Smoke, 1979; directed Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains, 1981; organized CHIME (Children's Hospital International Music and Entertainment) Festival, 1993; co-founded Painted Turtle Camp, part of the Association of Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, 2002; co-produced the fundraiser Ultimate Variety Show, 2004.
Lou Adler's Awards
Grammy Awards, Record of the Year for "It's Too Late" (performed by Carole King) and Album of the Year for Tapestry (performed by Carole King), 1972.
- Selected discography
- As producer
- The Jan & Dean Sound Dore 101, 1960.
- Jan & Dean's Golden Hits Liberty, 1962.
- (With Johnny Rivers) Totally Live at the Whiskey A Go-Go EMI Records, 1964.
- (With Johnny Rivers) Whiskey A Go-Go Revisited Liberty, 1967.
- (With the Mamas and the Papas) If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears Dunhill, 1965
- (Co-producer, with Barry McGuire) Eve of Destruction Dunhill, 1965.
- (With Barry McGuire) This Precious Time Dunhill, 1965.
- The Mamas and the Papas Dunhill, 1966.
- The Mamas and the Papas Deliver Dunhill, 1967.
- The Papas and the Mamas Dunhill, 1968.
- (With Spirit) Spirit Epic/Legacy, 1968.
- (With Carole King) Now That Everything's Been Said Ode, 1968.
- (With Spirit) The Family That Plays Together Epic/Legacy, 1969.
- (With Spirit) Clear Epic/Legacy, 1969.
- (With Carole King) Writer Ode, 1970.
- (With Carole King) Tapestry Ode, 1971.
- (With Carole King) Music Ode, 1971.
- Cheech & Chong Warner Bros. Records, 1972.
- (With Cheech & Chong) Big Bambu Warner Bros. Records, 1972.
- (With Carole King) Rhymes and Reasons Ode, 1972.
- (With Cheech & Chong) Los Cochinos Warner Bros. Records, 1973.
- (With Carole King) Fantasy Ode, 1973.
- Cheech & Chong's Wedding Album Reprise Records, 1974.
- (With Carole King) Wrap Around Joy Ode, 1974.
- (With Carole King) Thoroughbred Ode, 1975.
- (With Carole King) Really Rosie Ode, 1975.
- (With Cheech & Chong) Sleeping Beauty Warner Bros. Records, 1976.
- (With Cheech & Chong) Up In Smoke (soundtrack), Reprise Records, 1979.
- Entertainment Weekly, May 3 1996, pp 24-45.
- Independent (London, England), October 30, 2004, pp. 26-28.
- Orange Country Register, June 11, 1993, p. P05.
- "Lou Adler," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/ (February 12, 2006).
Visitor Comments Add a comment…
about 12 years ago
I would like to get intouch with ed ames who played mingo and sang chippewa town, if your still his manager have him email me please I am a ret officer
about 13 years ago
Lou: If I had to pick a highlight moment in time,it was when we got to speak to one another @ "Grammy" An absolute pleasure in meeting a person who put the "P" in producer,and putting some of the most notables into the eyes and ears of the American public! Much admiration and respect Michael Pileggi CEO & FOUNDER Mapco Records/Entertainment The Mapco Recording Group Mapco Music Group
about 14 years ago
dear lou and page. thank you for all the good things you are doing with the painted turtle. pat la rocca 626 355 7609
about 14 years ago
hey lou--love your hats as much as your music! if the lakers ever face the 76ers in the finals (hopefully in our lifetime) i've got you covered with my floor seats! i'm a longtime fan of yours, from the time you opened my ears as a teen to my years at electric factory in philly even up until this day. be well and keep enjoying life!
over 14 years ago
Aloha Lou this is Tina from the Old Malibu Colony Coffee Shop in Malibu Im the one you became pals/ with i and i brought that script of Deborah Walleys movie to YOU in 78 right after Cisco was born been many years I got married and moved to Kauai Hawaii but been facebooking with Nicolij hes grown up to be such a great kid i remember he was so little and was so darling We go way back as I Knew Neil Young and David C in Hollywood 66 /67 with Mario and Elmer i was one of those kids always at The Whiskey and wanted to say so sorry about Elmer( i've only been back twice in 15 years to Malibu ) I adored him and Mario they let me in so many nights back then ..to see Otis Redding and the byrds and buffalo springfield those were magic nights and then i saw Rocky Horror show in 74 at your ROXY what fun what times well just wanted to say aloha and Happy Birthday (I just had my 60's dec 4th) ..I also remember when you guys filmed UP IN SMOKE( then called Pedro and the Man in front of the coffee shop) I got the T shirt you gave me...and you all were in the coffee shop for weeks what fun we had aloha and have a great birthday Tina B
over 14 years ago
Lou,I'm learning more and more about you all the time.I've been a Mamas & Papas fan forever,but didn't realize all your other credits such as writing Sam Cooke's Only Sixteen & co-writing What A Wonderful World.You're a genius and my hat's forever off to you.They need to induct you in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.That is if you're already not,of course.
over 14 years ago
LOU ADLER! WHO IS LOU ADLER? I OFTEN WONDERED. I'D SEEN YOU AT LAKER GAMES & I HAD HEARD THE NAME BEFORE BUT NEVER LOOKED CLOSELY INTO THE PERSON'S LIFE. I LOVE YOU LOU, FOR A LOT OF REASONS. FIRST: YOU'RE A LAKER FAN. SECOND: YOU'RE A MUSIC LEGEND. AND YOU & PAIGE DO SO MUCH TO HELP THE KIDS THROUGH YOUR CAMP. MY WIFE & I SAW THE SHOW AFTER THE LAKERS BEAT THE ROCKETS 111-82 ON 11/09/08. WE CRIED AND PRAYED. I WISH THAT I COULD DO SOMETHING TO HELP. I'D LIKE TO DONATE MY TIME IN SOME WAY. I CAN'T AFFORD TO SEND MONEY AT THIS TIME BUT I WILL WHEN ABLE. I'M A CHAUFFEUR IN THE L. A. AREA BUT WORK HAS BEEN VERY LIGHT LATELY. PLEASE CONTACT ME TO HELP RAISE FUNDS OR HELP WITH TRANSPORTATION OR SOMETHING. I WANT TO HELP. RAFEAL 323-202-5241