Ted Templeman: ‘A Platinum Producer’s Life In Music’ (book)

To be released on April 21, 2020 (ECW Press)

In the book A Platinum Producer’s Life In Music, Ted Templeman, as told to Greg Renoff (2020, ECW Press), takes the readers into the world of music production, along with tales of making some of biggest rock albums of the 1970s and 1980s.

Templeman starts the book discussing how he had a love for reading as a child, including The Great Gatsby, along with playing drums and the trumpet. After discovering a love for jazz music, he starts several jazz bands, and eventually ends up in the band The Tikis, who opened for The Beach Boys in 1964. After a record deal is given, Templeman discusses watching both Elvis and Frank Sinatra record albums in the studios. The band  changes their name to Harper’s Bizarre, who had several hits on the national charts, including the remake “Feeling Groovy,” which hit #13 on the U.S. charts  in 1967.

The book walks the reader through Templeman’s band career, and eventually his love of being behind the scenes of the music business in the world of production, where he goes on to record Van Halen albums, along with acts like Van Morrison (“Wild Night” became Ted’s first produced hit), Montrose, The Doobie Brothers, Nicolette Larson, Sammy Hagar, and some of David Lee Roth’s solo records.

The memoir has many wonderful stories, including when Harper’s Bizarre was booked to play at actress Mia Farrow’s party, where Sinatra (who she was dating) glared at them during the whole show, while performing in front of the other guests like Jimmy Stewart and Natalie Wood, to a story about bikers showing up in the studio when he was recording the first Doobie Brothers’ album. Tales of butting heads with Van Morrison and Captain Beefheart, and recording some of the great albums of the time, are described throughout the 400-plus page book.

Most music fans remember Templeman for his work with Sammy Hagar’s VOA album, along with his time with Van Halen. He states in the book that when he helped sign Van Halen to a record deal, he was not impressed with singer David Lee Roth, and claims that during the recording of the first album, he actually talked to his engineer about bringing in Hagar as the singer, which Hagar ended up replacing Roth in 1985.

The Van Halen stories are what many fans would love about the book, and will not be disappointed. Ted talks about the problems during the 1982 Diver Down album, where the band only wanted to record a single of the Roy Orbison hit “(Oh) Pretty Woman” because the band wanted to make a mini movie, which forced them into the studio quickly due to the success of the song, to guitarist Eddie Van Halen and engineer Donn Landee hiding the recordings from him (missing the label’s deadlines) during the 1984 sessions. These actions ended up splitting the band members and production crew into separate teams throughout the album’s process. Templeman discusses how the Van Halen brothers were at odds with Roth during this time, especially when the latter recorded his Crazy From The Heat EP, to locking Dave and Ted out of Van Halen’s 5150 studio when it was time to record songs.

Templeman’s relationship with Roth sours when Ted turns down a million dollar deal to produce what would become the Permanent Vacation release by Aerosmith (after he worked with the band ‘s 1985 album Done With Mirrors) to work on Roth’s new release, only to have Roth want a new producer. The book tells when Templeman found out Hagar finally joined Van Halen, to being asked back into the band’s fold to help out with some tracking on some of the Hagar releases, to moving up the ranks of the Warner Brothers company, and his exit as well. He also talks about signing band BulletBoys towards the end of the text.

There are plenty of stories about the stars he worked with here, including (at times) detailed explanations on the recording process on what worked (and didn’t work) in the studio; from tracking songs to setting up the drums and guitars to record, which would appeal to the fans who are tech savvy. For the casual fan, some of these parts may be too manual in style for them, but it doesn’t distract from the flow of the book. As a former drummer, I have no idea what some of the guitar and studio references he makes were.

Once he gets past the Harper’s Bizarre stories, quite a bit of the early sections are focused on The Doobie Brothers, and then later on in the text, Van Halen. But there are tales about Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, and Bette Midler, along with Ted stating his favorite tracks he recorded, and the ones that he didn’t enjoy. Rock music fans would enjoy this read, especially fans of The Doobies, Michael McDonald, and Van Halen. It is a lengthy book for a person with a lengthy career.

Reviewed by Lance Lumley for Sleaze Roxx, April 2020

Reproduced from Lance Lumley‘s own website with slight edits.