Crafting smash hits with Van Halen, The Doobie Brothers, Nicolette Larson, and Van Morrison, legendary music producer Ted Templeman changed the course of rock history
This autobiography (as told to Greg Renoff) recounts Templeman’s remarkable life from child jazz phenom in Santa Cruz, California, in the 1950s to Grammy-winning music executive during the ’70s and ’80s. Along the way, Ted details his late ’60s stint as an unlikely star with the sunshine pop outfit Harpers Bizarre and his grind-it-out days as a Warner Bros. tape listener, including the life-altering moment that launched his career as a producer: his discovery of the Doobie Brothers.
Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer’s Life in Music takes us into the studio sessions of No. 1 hits like “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers and “Jump” by Van Halen, as Ted recounts memories and the behind-the-scene dramas that engulfed both massively successful acts. Throughout, Ted also reveals the inner workings of his professional and personal relationships with some of the most talented and successful recording artists in history, including Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Eric Clapton, Lowell George, Sammy Hagar, Linda Ronstadt, David Lee Roth, and Carly Simon.
In no-frills prose, music producer Templeman offers behind-the-board glimpses at the musicians he's produced, including Eric Clapton, the Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison, and Van Halen. Templeman grew up in a musical family in Santa Cruz, Calif., graduated high school in 1960, and attended Cabrillo Junior College. For the next decade he played in various bands and worked for Warner Brothers, where producer Lenny Waronker taught him the art of production. In 1970, he discovered a demo tape from the Doobie Brothers and, after hearing them live, signed them to Warner (they got a $20,000 advance and "partied away half of it, and the other half went for equipment"). Following the success of the Doobies' eponymous first album, Templeman was promoted to A&R executive producer. Templeman is an entertaining storyteller, and he matter-of-factly talks of working on Van Morrison's Tupelo Honey, which taught him to value and capture spontaneous performances; producing Clapton's album Behind the Sun, when Templeman suggested he switch to a Stratocaster guitar from his Gibson to get a better tone; and recording Van Halen's "You Really Got Me," during which Templeman heard guitarist Eddie Van Halen warm up with a guitar exercise that became the song's intro, "Eruption." Classic rock fans will dig Templeman's insider view of the music business.
Great book covering a lot of musical ground!
Excellent book that covers a ton of music history. Ted has packed an infinite number of experiences into his lifetime, and it’s apparent when you read this book. As a musician and wanna be producer, I related to his stories of recording processes, musician mentality and band dynamics.
Could have benefited from an editor
The book had a ton of really good behind the scenes tales of a few bands that are near and dear to my heart, especially Van Halen. The writing was quite poor, unfortunately. Whoever wrote the book was quite repetitive about mundane matters, like what was going through Templeman’s decision making process on things such as why he recorded a song a certain way or why he said things he said. Also, there is incessant bragging abouthow wonderful and wealthy Templeman is. We get it. No need to brag. Would have been much better had Templeman gone with a professional writer instead of Renoff. I read the epilogue by Renoff. Right away when he said his first love of VanHalen was him playing 1984 over and over before he went out and bought the other albums, I knew whatthe problem with the book was. Renoff. He is just a latter day VH fan and not a polished writer. This book would have really benefited from a real editor.
A wonderful stroll through a producers eyes
As a Warner Bros Records alumni this book was truly a gift to read. My first day with Warner Bros Records as a local Promotion Man was to blitz to all the rock radio stations in my territory a new band called Van Halen. 4 days later they are performing their 3rd show opening for Montrose and Journey in Detroit my home town and my area as a Warner Bros rep.
Ted was as passionate about getting the songs recorded correctly as we were in the field about getting them on the radio. It was fantastic to hear about the Doobie Bros, Nicolette Larsen, Montrose, Michael McDonald, Rickie Lee Jones, Christopher Cross and other bands that Warner Bros Records nurtured and grew and to hear the way Ted used all that he knew to craft these beautiful songs we all know and still Love today.
Thank you Ted Templeman for your contributions to the music world and to my world as a Warner Bros Records alumni.