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Van Halen Made Rock History with a Little Help from This Guy


In January 1977 I was working in my Burbank office at Warner Bros. Records when my secretary came in and said, “It’s Marshall Berle for you on line one. He says he has an unsigned band for you to see in Hollywood.”

To be honest, I rarely bothered to take calls concerning unknown local bands. By the time Marshall called, I was a Warner Bros. vice president and staff producer—I’d already recorded albums with Van Morrison and Little Feat and discovered and signed the Doobie Brothers as well as Montrose, whose 1973 debut album would become a landmark in hard rock. I’d even had a fleeting moment of pop stardom in the ’60s as the drummer in Harpers Bizarre, remembered today chiefly for our top 10 cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy).” But Marshall was an old friend; he’d booked the Beach Boys, so I knew he had an eye and ear for young musical talent.

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