"Bang: The Bert Berns Story" to have Cleveland premiere at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Son of the legendary songwriter/producer talks about his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee father and the documentary he directed about him.

CLEVELAND - Tonight at 7 p.m., the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will host the Cleveland premiere of "Bang:  The Bert Berns Story,"  a documentary film directed by Berns' son Brett, who was only 2 years old at the time of his father's passing.  (Tickets are still available for the screening and can be bought on the Rock Hall's website.)  We caught up with the younger Berns who was visiting the Rock Hall with his sister Cassandra and talked with him about his father's legacy and the film.

Who is Bert Berns? Surely you've heard these songs...

"Brown Eyed Girl"...

"Twist and Shout"...

"Under the Boardwalk"...

"Piece of My Heart"....

Just about any fan of rock and roll can sing the chorus to them all.  But what do they have in common?  None would have become a part of rock's hit parade had it not been for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Bert Berns.  

Berns, who also went by Bert Russell, was a singer/songwriter/producer in the 1960's who over the course of his brief career helped bring those songs, or the artists who sang them, to the forefront of music.  

As a writer, his songs have been recorded by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.  "Cry baby," "I Want Candy," "Here Comes the Night," "Piece of My Heart," "Twist and Shout," "25 Miles," and "I Don't Want To Go On Without You" are just of the few iconic songs written by Berns that have been sung by a diverse group of artists such as Janis Joplin, The Isley Brothers,Solomon Burke, The Drifters, The Moody Blues, Bow Wow Wow and Edwin Starr.

As a producer Berns was responsible for hits like Solomon Burke's "Cry to Me," The Drifters' "Under The Boardwalk"  and "Baby Please Don't Go"  by Them.

As co-founder of Bang Records, Berns published hits for acts like the Strangeloves and the McCoys. He also brought Van Morrison to the States and discovered Neil Diamond.

For Ohioans, Bert Berns will forever be known as the man who wrote the state's official rock song and The Ohio State University's fight song, "Hang on Sloopy."

In 2016, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the Ahmet Ertegun Award winner.

Bert Berns Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bio

Berns died at the age of 38 due to a heart attack.  After his passing, his wife Ilene, a Cleveland native, took over Bang Records at the age of 24 and went on to develop artists like Paul Davis, Brick and Peabo Bryson. Illene would become a pioneer for women in the recording industry and eventually sell Bang Records to CBS/Sony records in the late 1970's, while retaining the publishing operations which is now run by their son Brett.  Mrs. Berns passed away last month but did get to see her son's homage to her husband at film festival in Miami last year.

For more on Bert Berns and the film about his life, watch our interview at the top of this page.

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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