The legendary producer behind hit records by the Doobie Brothers, Van Morrison, Van Halen and others, Ted Templeman, declared Sammy Hagar as “the best rock singer on the planet” during a recent interview.
Templeman worked with Hagar in Montrose prior to producing Van Halen’s first six albums, and still holds him in extremely high regard.
Sammy’s a helluva singer. Sammy may be the best singer out there. Period.
“To me, he’s a combination of Robert Plant and James Brown. That guy can sing like nobody. I’m telling you, nobody. I’m talking just as a singer. He doesn’t know how good he is even. The guy is, I think, the best rock singer on the planet. Period.”
When Hagar was set to replace David Lee Roth as Van Halen’s singer back in 1985 though, Templeman had his reservations:
“I wanted them to change the name,” the producer admits. “When I first sat down with Sammy and his manager, I said, ‘Call it something else if you’re going to be in the band.’ It’s just not Van Halen without Dave to me.”
His reservations could be due to Templeman’s own intentions with Hagar however: “Before [he joined] Van Halen, I had a plan for Sammy to do a Prince-type thing. Because he’s the only guy that could sing rock 'n' roll and soul. I mean, he can sing soul like James Brown. And people don’t even know it. I had a whole thing planned out for him. But no, he and his manager wanted to be in Van Halen, and those guys wanted a guy who could really sing, because Dave is not a singer like Sammy,” he explained.
As well as his work with Van Halen, Templeman produced solo records by both Roth and Hagar. He also worked on albums with Eric Clapton, Cheap Trick, Joan Jett, Aerosmith and Little Feat.
A new autobiography, co-written by Greg Renoff, delves into various anecdotes from throughout Templeman’s long and fascinating career, including his extended stint as a vice president of Warner Bros. Records. ‘Ted Templeman: A Platinum Producer’s Life in Music’ is available now.