Bachman-Turner Overdrive

  • Rock group formed in 1973 from Winnipeg Canada. The founding members were Randy Bachman (lead vocals, lead guitar), C. Fred Turner (lead vocals, bass guitar), Tim Bachman (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and Robbie Bachman (drums, backing vocals). All members contributed to songwriting.
  • Randy Bachman was the guitarist for the band The Guess Who from 1965 to 1970. He left the band due to differences with lead singer Burton Cummings. He reconnected with Chad Allan, who had been the lead singer of The Guess Who before leaving in 1966. Allan and Buchman agreed to form a band. Randy asked his brother Robbie to join as the drummer, and the group was named Brave Belt. In 1971, they released an album and went on tour. Needing a bass guitarist for the tour, they asked Turner to join. Turner had been performing with various cover bands in Winnipeg, and he jumped at the chance to join a band that might use his original compositions for material.
  • In 1972, Bachman, Bachman, Turner and Allan released a second album as Brave Belt, and Tim Bachman was brought in as a touring musician when Allan chose to leave the band soon after the album was released. With album sales going nowhere, they were dropped by their record label.
  • Randy took his life savings to record another album with his brothers and Turner, and he pitched it to the industry. It was rejected by 22 labels. In April 1973, a record executive was clearing his desk of old demo tapes, and Bachman’s tape missed the trash can. The exec picked up the tape and noticed Bachman’s name, recalling that he had told Bachman to send a tape if Bachman ever made one. The exec listened to the demo and signed the band, asking them to come up with a new name for the group. While at a restaurant, Turner saw a trucker magazine called “Overdrive” and he wrote “Bachman-Turner Overdrive” and “B.T.O.” on a napkin. The band members thought the “Overdrive” was a good way to describe their music, so they agreed to Turner’s suggestion.
  • Their self titled debut album was released in May 1973. It sold modestly, though a heavy promotional tour helped – they performed over 300 concerts in their first year. In December that year, they released their second album, Bachman-Turner Overdrive II. It was their breakthrough, peaking at #4 on the album chart, with 2 hit singles – Let It Ride and Takin’ Care of Business both reached in the top 25 of the Hot 100 chart.
  • Tim Bachman left the band shortly after their second album was released. Randy had strict rules for the band – no drugs, booze or sex while on tour, and apparently Tim helped himself to all three. He was replaced by Blair Thornton. In 1974, B.T.O. released their most successful album, Not Fragile. The album topped the Billboard album chart, and the band had their only #1 single with You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, with its famous stutter lyric (“B- B- B- Baby, you ain’t seen na- na- nothin’ yet”). Randy thought the song was a joke and didn’t want to use it, but the record label felt it would be a hit. He agreed to include it, but only if he could re-record the vocals to eliminate the stutter. After hearing the re-recorded version, they went with the original stutter instead. A second single from the album, Roll On Down the Highway, peaked at #14.
  • B.T.O. released 2 albums in 1975 and another in 1977. Four Wheel Drive had a minor hit with Hey You, but their other singles were not as successful. Randy wanted to change the band’s sound, adding horns and strings, but the other band members disagreed. 1977’s Freeways album was forced on the band by Randy – while it didn’t have horns or strings, it also didn’t appeal to fans, so nothing charted, and Randy left the band after it was released.
  • He was replaced by Jim Clench, who played bass guitar. Turner moved to rhythm guitar, and Thornton moved to lead guitar. They released albums in 1978 and 1979, going by the name B.T.O., as Randy retained the rights to the Bachman name. The albums failed, and the group disbanded in 1980.
  • In 1983, Randy restarted the band with Turner, brother Tim, and 2 other artists. Brother Robbie refused to participate due to disputes over song royalties. An album was released. Between 1983 and 2005, the band performed with various lineups, with Randy leaving in 1986, joining again in 1988, and leaving again in 1991, while Turner participated from 1983 to 1986 and again from 1988 to 2005. Tim was with the band from 1983 to 1988, while Robbie returned in 1988 and remained until 2005. Confusing sibling rivalries going on here.
  • In 2005, they disbanded again, and in 2009 Randy and Turner reunited and recruited 3 other musicians to tour, using the name Bachman & Turner. Randy also began to tour in 2015 using the band name Bachman.
  • I was a lover of B.T.O. in their early years, as I was getting into all types of music as an early teenager. Let It Ride and Takin’ Care of Business were can’t miss hits, and You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet earned its way to #1 at a time when soft rock and early disco were dominating the charts. Here’s their classic rock classic, You Ain’t Seen Nothing.

1 thought on “Bachman-Turner Overdrive”

  1. to me, BTO’s greatest song was Blue Collar, not your typical BTO song but so true to their roots in Jazz and Blues. First album, before the Top 40 stuff. There are some great renditions on YouTube, including more recent stuff when they reunited.

    Saw Bachman reunite with Burton Cummings, the voice of The Guess Who, in Seattle years ago. They could not tour as the Guess Who because they never registered the name. The Guess Who touring now only has their original drummer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.