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Bachman-Turner Overdrive

 B i o g r a p h y

During the 1960's Randy Bachman was a founding member of Chad Allen & The Expressions who would go on to fame and fortune as the Guess Who. Bachman had been slugging it out for 10 years by the time the band struck gold with #1 hits like "These Eyes", "Laughing" and "American Woman" and decided to leave the group while they were on top. Upon leaving the band, he released a solo album called 'Axe' for RCA in 1970. The album did little and Bachman found himself yearning for the creativity of a collaborative atmosphere. He called his old Guess Who cohort Chad Allen and they decided to put a new band together. Allen would supply vocals, keyboard and rhythm guitar while Bachman's younger brother, Robin, would handle drums. The trio became Brave Belt and headed into the studio to record their debut album with Bachman doing double duty on bass guitar. As fate would have it, they landed Fred Turner as bassist just as Brave Belt' was completed (Turner doesn't appear on the album despite his picture on the jacket). The album was released Brave Belt in 1971 on Reprise Records.

By 1972's Brave Belt II', the band was starting to show its heavier side particularly with the new addition of C.F. Turner's songwriting and gritty truck driver vocals which appeared to conflict with Chad Allen's vision of the band. Allen contributions to the record were minimal and he quit before the record was released. ( Brave Belt II' would eventually be re-issued following the success of B.T.O under the auspicious handle of Bachman-Turner-Bachman As Brave Belt'). With the limited success of the first two albums Randy Bachman began hunting for a better record deal which he found with Mercury/Polydor. By then, Chad Allen had been replaced by another Bachman brother, Tim, on guitar and the direction of the band slid into an even heavier mode. By this time, Brave Belt III', was the intended next record but with a new label and band direction the group changed gears, literally, and became Bachman Turner Overdrive (or B.T.O. for short).

'Bachman Turner Overdrive' was released in 1973 on Mercury Records and stayed in the charts for 68 weeks. After four tries, the only successful single from the record was "Blue Collar" which managed a reasonable position of #68 on Billboard's Hot 100... By year end they managed to pull out another album from their creative rebirth with 'Bachman Tuner Overdrive II. The album was pushed all the way to Top-10 by the driving force of the bubbling under "Let It Ride" and the monster hit "Takin' Care of Business". With the departure of Tim Bachman and addition of Blair Thornton on guitar, BTO's 1974 album 'Not Fragile' gave the band the type of success that Randy Bachman had not scene since the Guess Who's' 'American Woman' in 1969. The album rode the charts at #1 from the success of the worldwide number one single "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" and its seminal follow-up "Roll On Down The Highway". Subsequently, the world took a backward glance at BTO and their first two albums became certified gold in 1974. By the fourth album, 'Four Wheel Drive' BTO were international superstars and this album too proved to be a monster, peaking at #5 on Billboard, becoming certified platinum, and providing another catchy radio anthem in "Hey You".

Tired of the same old chugging rhythms, BTO diversified for their 5th album and revisited their jazzy blues roots a la "Blue Collar" on 'Head On' in December 1975. The album produced the mellow and intricate "Looking Out For #1" and other tunes on the record flexed BTO's stylistic muscle like the Little Richard assisted piano rocker "Take It Like A Man". It became apparent that now the band was in the spotlight a power struggle over song representation was bubbling to the surface. While nagging personal conflicts plagued the ranks, Mercury rush released 'The Best Of BTO (So Far)' during the summer of 1976 in anticipation of a new studio album. When the smoke cleared, Randy Bachman had wrestled controlling interest in the song writing duties from C.F. Turner on 1977's 'Freeways'. The internal conflicts showed as the first single, "My Wheels Won't Turn", died at radio. Mercury panicked while the album sank and rebounded with 1977's 'BTO Japan Tour - Live' but the bloom was off the rose -- Randy Bachman left BTO due to the typical 'musical differences' ploy and recorded his second solo album, 'Survivor' (1978)

BTO carried on with new recruit Jim Clench (April Wine) on bass. This freed Turner up to switch to guitar and resume lead vocals duties. The first release from the new line-up was 'Street Action' in February 1978 but failed to do anything to stem the tide of their lagging popularity. With the old college try and an attempted career make over manager Bruce Allen brought in some young songwriters who had a modicum of success with Prism -- Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. BTO pushed out one more release, 'Rock'n'Roll Nights', before calling it a day in 1979. Turner would later pop up as vocalist for Bachman's 1981 project, Union, for one album 'On Strike' before that too disbanded.

By 1983 the original line up met to discuss a BTO reunion. Randy Bachman wanted to include Tim Bachman as part of the reformation, while other brother Robbie had pushed for Thornton who was considered a better musician. Randy Bachman made the final choice of brother Tim and Robbie bowed out of the reunion citing irreconcilable differences. Instead Gary Peterson from the Guess Who joined BTO as their new drummer. 1984's 'BTO' was the result of this reunion and inspired one lack lustre single "For The Weekend". This line up managed to survive a tour, recording shows as they went along, and the album 'Live Live Live' materialized in 1986.

The cards fell apart again and Tim Bachman carried on with a new set of musicians as BTO including second guitarist Randy Murray. But, BTO would never rest as the classic version of the band reunited yet again as CF Turner, Randy Bachman, Blair Thornton and Robbie Bachman made a comeback in 1988. They were able to hold the band together to tour for three years before Randy Bachman decided he'd finally had enough and bailed out in 1991. Randy Murray who had been part of the Tim Bachman bogus BTO replaced Randy Bachman. Recognizing the inherent 'Classic Rock' kitsch of BTO's Canadian power rock anthems, Mercury Records released a double CD compilation called The Anthology featuring songs covering their entire recorded output and bonus tracks like the single-only "Down The Line" from 1975.

The line-up consisting of Rob Bachman, CF Turner, Blair Thornton and Randy Murray still plays live, mostly in festival situations and the band finally made it back into the studio to record another album with 1996's 'Trial By Fire', consisting of 5 new tracks and a handful of re-recorded BTO classics. The first single was a cover of the Animals' "House Of The Rising Sun". Both Randy Bachman and Fred Turner reunited briefly for a February 2000 appearance on the animated TV show 'The Simpsons'.

Official Site: www.bachmanandturner.com

Bachman Turner Overdrive are:
Randy Bachman (guitar, vocals)
C.F. ("Fred") Turner (lead vocals, bass, switched to guitar in 1978 )
Robin "Robbie" Bachman (drums)
Tim Bachman (guitar, vocals)
Blair Thornton (guitar; replaced Tim Bachman 1974)
Jim Clench (bass; replaced Randy Bachman 1978)
Gary Peterson (drums; Robbie Bachman 1984)
Randy Murray (guitar; 1986-1987)
Billy Chapman (keyboards; 1986)

 A l b u m s

BTO's greatest (Mercury Records, 1981)
Drive On (PolyTel Records, 1986)
The Anthology (Mercury Records, 1993)
Trial by fire - Greatest & Latest (CMC Records, 1996)