Today’s is one of the least appreciated and yet most important anniversaries in Van Halen history.
Forty years ago tonight, producer Ted Templeman, acting on a tip from Marshall Berle, stood in the back of Hollywood’s Starwood Club and watched a little band from Pasadena tear it up. Impressed, he’d return the next night with Warner Bros. Records president Mo Ostin in tow. They’d then offer Van Halen a record deal in the dressing room after the show.
The text above is from Van Halen Rising’s Facebook page today. Templeman first saw Van Halen February 2nd, 1977. The next day, Van Halen was offered a record deal, and the rest is history!
Of course, Van Halen Rising author and historian Greg Renoff interviewed both Ted Templeman and Marshall Berle. Here’s just a smidgen of how it went down, straight from the book:
“So I went down there one night,” [Ted Templeman] remembers.”I kind of went in the back. I went in, but I didn’t let them know I was there. I saw Ed, and I was just fucking knocked out. He was the best musician I’ve ever seen in person.”
Of course, Templeman couldn’t help but notice Roth as well. “Dave was playing to an audience of ten thousand, when there were about eleven people in there,” Templeman told Newsday. “He was performing and sweating and jumping whether anybody was there or not. He was wearing outrageous clothes.”
As the set moved along, Templeman focused almost exclusively on the band’s guitarist. “Ed was still playing those hammer-ons while he was jumping in the air… Ed had Jimmy Page’s moves down, he could play with a cigarette in his mouth. I signed a them because of Ed, because he was such a great player. I figured there’s Art Tatum, Ornette Coleman, and this kid.”
Having seen enough, Templeman exited. He says, “I don’t think the guys knew the first night I was there. I had heard about them, and I wanted to see what was going on. Once I saw Ed I thought, I don’t want to talk to them until I have the guy with me who can sign them. So that’s why I made sure I had Mo with me the next night.”
As Edward explained to Guitar Player magazine in 1978, “We played a good set in front of no people,” Eddie has recalled. “It was an empty house at the Starwood on a rainy Monday night, and all of a sudden Marshall walks in with [producer] Ted Templeman and [Warner executive] Mo Ostin. It was heavy. I remember talking to other bands who were always trying to get Ted to produce their records, but he only works inside of Warner Brothers. Within a week we were signed. It was right out of the movies.”