I have been reading so many Rock Books lately, some great, some not so great. When I heard Ted Templeman was putting out a book. I got real excited. I knew he produced all those David Lee Roth era Van Halen albums and thought, this will be great to learn all the behind the scenes stuff on Van Halen. But what I got was so much more.
Ted goes back to the beginning and explains his family life and what type of music he was raised around and he was definitely immersed in to music his whole life. I learned a lot as I didn’t know about his band Harper’s Bizarre from the late 60’s and they had minor hits. It was those albums where he started to learn the craft of producing and would eventually would lead to an A&R job with Warner Bros. Records where he would spend the next 25-30 years of his life climbing the ranks of the business, but always producing.
Being in California he met everyone from around that 70’s scene. Really cool all the people he met and a couple massive icons he saw recording in the studio. When we was learning the ropes, some of his contacts let him come in to the studio to watch and learn and one occasion he was able to witness Frank Sinatra record and was awed at his professionalism and his indelible knack to hit the right note every time. Another icon was Elvis Presley and to the same effect. I can only imagine how cool that had to be to experience.
Now, it took a long time to get to the Van Halen stories as he did so much prior to that time in his life. He worked closely and formed a bond of friendship with Van Morrison when he worked with him on his album ‘Tupelo Honey’. He mentioned that Van had some quirks but he showed what a great friend he was in the way he responded to Ted when Ted’s first child was born. The same holds true with the bonds he made with Carly Simon and Nicolette Larson and some great stories around that.
For me, it was also enjoyable to learn so much on all the Doobie Brothers albums he worked on. I really didn’t realize he was on practically everything they did. And a cool thing I also learned is how when he found musicians and artists he liked, he would bring them in to help on so many other records. It was a common occurrence throughout his career. These were the top echelon of session musicians and is fascinating at all the connections.
For me though, it was the Van Halen section of the book that was most intriguing as they are one of my favorite bands. He gave a lot of insight in to the recording process and how he came to sign the band or help get them signed as Gene Simmons had to pass on them. We learn as to why there are so many cover songs and we learn what ultimately led to the break-up of the band with David Lee Roth. We see the close relationship between him and Eddie Van Halen and then see it get strained to a point where their friendship pretty much ended…but did it!! You will see.
One thing I learned about Ted that was cool is his relationship with his engineer Donn Landee who he used on so many recordings. He felt he was just as responsible for the sound on so many albums that he made sure his name was shown on albums, labels and at one point even gave him a point on albums. How many producers would sacrifice a point and take less than they probably deserved.
Now I want to list some of the artist he talks about from Randy Newman to Linda Ronstadt, Ronnie Montrose, Sammy Hagar, Eric Clapton (Behind the Sun), Aerosmith (Done with Mirrors), Honeymoon Suite, Bulletboys and so many more. Some great stuff.
You get a in depth look at his life, well mostly the recording side, but there are still a lot of personal stories as well. You also get the downfall of his time with Warner Bros when the industry started to change. And I want to let my company know that if you want to let me go, I want Ted’s deal of a $1 Million a year for 5 years. I think it is only fair!
This is one of the best books I have read in years and one that any music lover would truly love whether you are a Van Halen fan, Doobie Brothers fan or any music fan and want to know the inner workings then this book will be for you. It goes in to more detail than I am used to seeing and it took me awhile to get through as there was so much juicy stuff. This is a must by and I am going to give it a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars as it is essential reading.