Bert Berns: The Unknown Hitmaker of the 1960s

May 25, 2017

Berns (left) in the studio with Van Morrison.

A new film biography of 1960s songwriter and record producer Bert Berns is out to raise awareness of his behind-the-scenes contributions to popular music. It’s named for the record label Berns launched and ran:  Bang.

Bert Berns drew a lot of attention within the record industry in New York during his short, intense career.  He was already dead—in 1967, of a chronic heart condition, at age 38—when San Francisco music writer Joel Selvin  began noticing Berns' body of  work.

There are multiple reasons, says filmmaker Bob Sarles, why Bert Berns remains largely unknown. He was a behind the scenes figure in the record-making process, so his name was not familiar to the public. He wrote under two different names—Burt Russell and his own. And perhaps most significantly, Berns' bitter parting with his former business partners at powerful Atlantic Records.

Bang:  The Bert Berns Story is now playing at the Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol. See the trailer for the film below: