ARIZONA (CelebrityAccess) – Influential A&R executive Roberta Petersen who championed the careers of iconic bands such as The Flaming Lips, Jane’s Addiction, Devo and Dire Straits, passed away early August 15 while under hospice care in Arizona. The industry veteran, who spent more than two decades at Warner Bros. Records, had reportedly been suffering from the end stages of dementia. She was 74.
Petersen, whose late husband, John Petersen, played drums in the 1960s baroque pop band Harpers Bizarre alongside her older brother, Ted Templeman, who later established himself as a renowned rock producer for his work with Van Halen, Van Morrison, Sammy Hagar and The Doobie Brothers, among many others, was known for her great ears, knack for spotting quality, killer A&R instincts and the incredible level of devotion she had for her artists making her something of a secret weapon for Warner Bros.
Hired by former Warner Bros. president Lenny Waronker, Roberta joined WBR in 1971. By 1977 she had risen to GM of A&R. After a brief time away from the label during the early 1980s, she returned in 1985 and three years later was elevated to VP and GM, A&R. By the decade’s end, she had signed, developed and/or worked closely with everyone from Devo, k.d. lang and Dire Straits to Faith No More and Jane’s Addiction. During the first half of the 1990s, she signed The Flaming Lips, BoDeans, Loreena McKennitt and power-pop icons Cheap Trick ahead of their 12th studio album Woke Up With a Monster (produced by her brother Ted).
In 1995, Petersen joined Geffen Records in the then-newly created post of senior director A&R and administration. Though she departed the music business entirely just two years later, during her brief tenure, she released such notable commercial hits as Beck’s Odelay and Counting Crows’ Recovering the Satellites, as well as critical favorites like Weezer’s Pinkerton and Whiskeytown’s Strangers Almanac.
Petersen is survived by her brother, Ted Templeman, and extended family. John Petersen passed away in 2007.