It took a while for Randy Bachman to find his musical groove after leaving The Guess Who in 1970, but the subsequent success of Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO) proves that the efforts were worth it.
Bachman’s first post-Guess Who effort was a solo album, Axe (1970). But the Winnipegger seemed to work best in a band and formed Brave Belt in 1971 with his younger brother Robbie and former Guess Who frontman Chad Allan. Fred Turner would join them as their live bassist.
But after two years and two unsuccessful albums (released by Reprise Records), Bachman tried again with Bachman-Turner Overdrive, a blue-collar rock band partly named after a trucking industry magazine. (In fact their first single would be called “Blue Collar.”) Turner would share vocal duties with Bachman.
Mercury Records released Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s self-titled debut in 1973. (The band had been rejected by labels 24 times before signing with Mercury.) Bachman-Turner Overdrive II was released later the same year and contained the hits “Let It Ride” and its signature song “Takin’ Care of Business.”
1974’s Not Fragile would become the band’s most popular album, topping the U.S. album chart and generating the number one single “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.” Randy Bachman wrote the song for his brother Gary who had a stutter.
The band continued at their hard pace, releasing two albums in 1975 alone, Four Wheel Drive and Head On. “Hey You” from Four Wheel Drive topped the Canadian RPM chart. (An interesting note: non-album single “Down to the Line” was co-written by Vincent Furnier, a.k.a. Alice Cooper.)
Bachman left the band in 1977 for a solo career after the recording of 1977’s Freeways. Turner kept the band going under the shortened name BTO and replaced Bachman with former April Wine bassist Jim Clench. 1978’s Street Action and 1979’s Rock n’ Roll Nights sold progressively less as disco began to dominate the charts.
Bachman’s 1978 solo album, Survivor (featuring Burton Cummings on keyboards), failed to chart. He subsequently put together a new band, Ironhorse, which released two albums, in ’79 and ’80, but to little success. Turner then joined Bachman in a retooled Ironhorse, renamed Union.
Bachman and Turner reunited for 1984’s Bachman-Turner Overdrive album, with a subsequent live record, Live! Live! Live!, released two years later. BTO would tour with a Sammy Hagar-fronted Van Halen in 1986 but with Penner’s voice on tape as he was unavailable to go on the road. The band continued to tour in various configurations for several years.
In 2009 Bachman reconnected with Turner, initially to record one song, “Rock ‘N’ Roll is the Only Way Out,” for a proposed album featuring various singers. Bachman’s enthusiasm for the collaboration led to him offering Turner more songs to sing on. Soon the proposed Bachman solo record became a full collaboration. The first single released from Bachman & Turner (2010) was “Rollin’ Along.”
Bachman-Turner Overdrive was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2014 by astronaut Chris Hadfield.
“You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” hit #1 in the U.S.
Won three consecutive Group of the Year JUNOS, including Most Promising Group of the Year (1974).
Opened for Van Halen
The Best of BTO (So Far) certified platinum by the RIAA
Inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame