Van Halen’s producer Ted Templeman was adamant about not being a fan of the band’s classic song “Jump,” though he admitted his evaluation of the song was wrong.
After working on the band’s first six albums, Templeman remained close friends with guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who died of cancer on October 6 at age 65.
Released in late 1983, “Jump” featured a prominent synthesizer, which was controversial among fans because the band was best known for the searing guitar performances of Eddie Van Halen. But the song reached number one, got a Grammy nomination, and is considered one of Van Halen’s greatest works and one of the most important songs in rock history.
“The only falling out we ever had was over ‘Jump,’ because I didn’t – and I don’t – like it,” Templeman told Rolling Stone in a recent interview. “It’s stupid because I produced it, but the keyboards just hit me as wrong. He would call me up in the middle of the night and say, ‘Ted, you’ve got to hear this. I’m gonna come and get you.’ And he drove down in his Porsche to Century City and picked me up at three in the morning and drove me up there: ‘Listen to this.’ And they had ‘Jump’ down.”
The producer recognized that the song “did work” and “sounded great”; the next day, he directed singer David Lee Roth to pen the lyrics. “We sat in the back of his Mercury,” he recalled. “He was writing this song, and I said, ‘That’s terrible.’ … I said, ‘That bothers me. Don’t say “jump.” It sounds like you’re encouraging somebody to commit suicide.’ He said, ‘Nah, nah. I got this thing nailed. It’s got a double entendre.’ And he did. It meant ‘Take a chance,’ but it also meant he was gonna get this girl.”
However, Templeman “wasn’t wild” about the keyboard part. “I was wrong because it was No. 1, but I don’t even listen to it,” he said. “To me, they were a heavy metal fucking band that could do pop tunes – that’s what I liked about ’em. But that took it into another arena. It reminded me of those bands that play in arenas, and then the fucking thing ended up getting played at every arena before a game. But look, I was wrong.”
Pondering on Eddie’s talent, the producer stated: “He knew his way around music. That’s why his solos and the songs that he and Dave wrote hold up. He wrote the chord changes as a songwriter. I think his impact is that people subconsciously hear melodic solos and people are attracted by that. … I think Ed’s impact is he brought pop stuff into his music. Everybody likes that. No matter how much you like other kinds of music, if you hear a real good pop tune, it just gets you.”