Randy Bachman was back in town over the weekend and he kept himself very busy. In fact, he seemed to be in overdrive — Bachman- Turner Overdrive that is.
His main reason for being in town was to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame along with his bandmates from ’70’s rock group Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
Bachman was born in the Winnipeg north end neighbourhood of West Kildonan in 1943. He released his first album with Burton Cummings when they were in that little Winnipeg band The Guess Who in 1966. The two wrote ‘These Eyes’, ‘No Sugar Tonight’, ‘Laughing’, ‘Undun’, ‘No Time’, and ‘American Woman’ together before Bachman and Chad Allen quit the band in 1971 and started the band Brave Belt which later evolved into Bachman-Turner Overdrive, or BTO.
BTO originally consisted of Randy and brothers Robbie and Tim (who was replaced by Blair Thornton) on drums and guitar respectively. Fred Turner was recruited for bass duties in Brave Belt on the recommendation of Neil Young, after Chad Allen left the band. Brave Belt released two albums before disbanding.
BTO released their first album in 1973 and the rest, as they say, is history. Their second album, Bachman-Turner Overdive II (released in Dec. 1973) contained two massive hits for them — ‘Let It Ride and ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ (formerly titled ‘White Collar Worker’ which Randy wrote while still in The Guess Who). He added the line ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ to the song after he heard a DJ on C-FOX in Vancouver use the phrase on the radio.
The band had moved to Vancouver shortly after they formed and played their first gig there opening up for Frank Zappa and Alice Cooper (who was on Frank’s Bizarre Records label.) Randy said he was quite surprised to find out Alice was a man.
Perhaps BTO’s most well known and biggest hit, ‘Takin’ Care of Business’, can be heard at many sporting events after touchdowns, goals scored, etc., but I’ll never forget the time I was walking down Robson Street in Vancouver in 1994 and saw 1322 guitarists gathered at Robson Square getting ready to try to break the world’s record for the most guitarists playing the longest song (The McCoys 1964 hit ‘Hang On Sloopy’ held the record up to that point).
Well, they did it and after playing ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ for 68 minutes and 40 seconds TCOB secured a spot in The Guinness Book of World Records. It was quite the sight at the end of the song when all the guitarists held their guitars in the air in victory. The song is listed as number 10 in the top 100 of songs ever covered.
Another big hit for them was ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ (from 1974’s Not Fragile in response to Yes’ Fragile album) with it’s stuttering lyrics which Bono sang a bit of last time U2 played here.
In 1975, they released 2 albums, Four Wheel Drive and Head On, and in 1976, they released The Best Of (So Far).
Bachman left the band in 1977 after Freeways album was released and the band played on under the moniker BTO as Bachman owned the rights to his surname for his solo career.
Bachman went on to have a very successful solo career but reunited with BTO from 1983 to 1991. In 2010, Randy Bachman and Fred Turner got together, recorded an album and toured as Bachman Turner.
After selling 30 million albums (mostly in that initial 4-year period ) and 31 years later, the band was finally inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame Sunday night at the Juno Awards. The band was selected to be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2003 but declined because the line up at that time didn’t want to perform on stage with Bachman.
They buried the axe, bit the bullet and agreed this time around. After the induction, Bachman-Turner Overdrive were joined on stage with The Sheepdogs, Travis Good (The Sadies) and Matt Mays, where they performed a rousing version of the Fred Turner penned ‘Let It Ride’ and ended the evening gala with that wonderful anthem, ‘Takin’ Care of Business’.
Sunday at noon, Bachman was busy taking part in the JUNO Songwriter’s Circle presented by SOCAN (Society of Composers, Artists and Music Publishers) at the Burton Cummings Theatre.
Saturday afternoon Bachman was at McNally Robinson bookstore for a chat with 92 CITI FM’s Howard Mandshein, and to sign his new book ‘Tales From The Tap’ (a follow up to 2011’s ‘Vinyl Tap Stories’). Both books are an extension of his very informative CBC Radio show, ‘Randy’s Vinyl Tap (heard Saturday and Sunday nights since 2005).
Bachman is an amazing storyteller and the stories in his books and on his radio show are wonderfull glimpses through rock’n’roll history. He shared a few stories and memories of his early days in Winnipeg with about 100 people who crowded into the Atrium at McNally’s.
Mandshein asked him about Lenny Breau who spent some time in Garden City and Bachman replied, “I’m here today because of Lenny Breau.”
Bachman had played violin from 5 to 12 years of age when he had a falling out with his teacher and after that experience, put down the violin, saw Elvis on TV, met Lenny Breau and learned how to play guitar from Breau. Lenny Breau taught Randy Bachman everything he needed to know about the guitar.
After the talk, Bachman signed his book for fans and although it was announced that he would only be signing his new book and wouldn’t be posing for photos with people, he gladly signed old tour posters and records and let some fans take pictures with him.
The man certainly knows how to take care of business.
All photos by Doug Kretchmer
Here is an audio recording of the full interview with Randy Bachman: