Bachman Turner Overdrive Biography

Canadian Classic Rock
Biography

Bachman Turner Overdrive

BTO
(CF Turner, Robbie Bachman, Randy Bachman, Blair Thornton)

 

Contrary to popular belief, the fire of B.T.O. did not rise from the ashes of The Guess Who, at least not directly. After taking a hiatus from Canada's greatest supergroup of the time, Randy Bachman released his first solo venture, 1970's AXE. Despite it's less than enthusiastic response, he still officially announced his departure from The Guess Who and by the beginning of 1971 had formed Brave Belt with younger brother Robbie on drums, former bandmate with The Expressions Chad Allen and longtime friend C F Turner on bass. The band was signed by Reprise Records in April and released their self-titled debut a month later. Despite spawning two singles "Crazy Arms, Crazy Eyes" and "Rock & Roll Band", the record didn't exactly set the world on fire. BRAVE BELT II was released in the winter that same year. Again two singles came from it, "Never Comin' Home" and "Dunrobin's Gone". Even though this effort was also met with mixed response, the sound Brave Belt incorporated would become integral ingredients in the formation of Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Problems with management about the direction Brave Belt was going had begun to surface by mid 1972 and the tour in support of the second album was cancelled half-way through. Bachman and company nonetheless continued to play Canada coast to coast independantly. The band by this time had also already replaced Allen with Randy and Robbie's brother Tim, who'd dropped out of college to join the group.

After sending a demo tape to Mercury Records, the newly renamed band was signed by Charley Fach and released BACHMAN TURNER OVERDRIVE on May 1, 1973. The hard-driving sound of "Give Me Your Money Please" mixed with the blues overtones of tracks like "Blue Collar" made it a hit. "BTO II" was released later that year and contained the singles "Little Candy Dancer" and "Hold Back The Water". Tim left the group following the subsequent tour to be replaced by Blair Thornton.

1974 saw what would turn out to be the band's biggest seller in NOT FRAGILE, backed by the classics "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet", "Let It Ride", and "Taking Care of Business". The next year produced FOUR WHEEL DRIVE. The title track, "Hey You" and "Roll On Down The Highway" helped solidify BTO's place as one of Canada's biggest groups. And the reception given the band by the American audiences further helped silence Randy's critics as to his ability to produce hits outside The Guess Who.

The group cut HEAD ON later that year which featured the hits "Looking Out For #1" and "Gimme Your Money Please". Repeated airplay and constant touring had by this time made BTO synonomous with quality, no-frills rock & roll in practically all corners of the globe.

The band released JAPAN TOUR LIVE in 1976. Although criticized as simply being one of many live records to be cut that year in front of a rock-starved Japanese crowd, was a fine indication of the brand of entertainment the group delivered live. The compilation BEST OF BTO ... SO FAR followed that same year. However problems with the direction the music was going again plagued the group and led to Randy Bachman leaving the band . The cornerstone of the foundation was gone and for all intents and purposes, spelled the beginning of the end for the band.

The reformed group put out FREEWAYS in 1977. "Shotgun Rider" and "Life Goes On" were released as singles, but it seemed as though something was missing. 1978 had STREET ACTION hit the stores and the single "Down The Road" on the airwaves, but no one listened or bought it.

More changes were in store for the group in 1979. With Jim Clench of April Wine fame replacing Turner, they released ROCK AND ROLL NIGHTS on Mercury Records that year. Although two singles were released, the reception given "Heartaches" and "Jamaica" spelled the end of one of Canada's finest names in rock.

Fast forward to 1996. With a revamped lineup, BTO again hit the airwaves with TRIAL BY FIRE. Consisting of Turner, original drummer Robbie Bachman, Thornton's return on guitars and Randy Murray holding down the rest of the guitar duties, the disc interestingly consists mostly of classic BTO brought up to date. Noteable are the four new songs, including the title-track. Also on the record is a killer version of The Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" and raucous renditions of such BTO classics as "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet", "Roll Down The Highway", "Four Wheel Drive" and "Hey You". Though some would condemn Turner and company for even attempting to recut these classics, it only takes a couple of listens to fully appreciate the guts it took to take on the project. And besides, every remade version stands alone as a fine piece.

Though there have been several incarnations of the group, it's the five albums consisting of both Randy Bachman and C.F. Turner that people equate to as "BTO". A 2 disc anthology as well as a greatest hits live lp only available on Canadian soil were released about the same time. And although he was the mastermind of two groups after his second solo lp SURVIVOR, neither Ironhorse or Union lived up to the hype as "the next Randy Bachman supergroup". But their reputation for good clean rock and roll and always giving the fans a little more than they expected helped forever cement BTO in the foundations of Canadian rock.

Written by Dan Brisebois of
CanConRox

Discography

B.T.O.
B.T.O. (1973)

Give Me Your Money Please
Hold Back The Water
Blue Collar
Little Gandy Dancer
Stayed Awake All Night Long
Down And Out Man
Don't Get Yourself In Trouble
Thank You For The Feelin'

B.T.O. II
B.T.O. II (1973)

Blown
Welcome Home
Stonegates
Let It Ride
Give It Time
Tramp
Don't Have To Hide
Takin' Care Of Business

Not Fragile
Not Fragile (1974)

Not Fragile
Rock Is My Life, And This Is My Song
Roll On Down The Highway
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
Free Wheelin'
Sledgehammer
Blue Moanin'
Second Hand
Givin It All Away

Four Wheel Drive
Four Wheel Drive (1975)

Four Wheel Drive
She's A Devil
Hey You
Flat Broke Love
She's Keeping Time
Quick Change Artist
Lowland Fling
Don't Let The Blues Get You Down

Head On
Head On (1976)

Find Out About Love
It's Over
Average Man
Woncha Take Me For A While
Wild Spirit
Takin' It Like A Man
Looking Out For #1
Away From Home
Stay Alive

Japan Tour Live
Japan Tour Live (1976)

Roll On Down The Highway
Hold Back The Water
Welcome Home
Don't Get Yourself In Trouble
Four Wheel Drive
Takin' Care of Business
Slow Down Boogie
Thank You - Domo

The Best Of BTO So Far
The Best Of BTO So Far (1976)

Roll On Down The Highway
Hey You
Looking Out For # 1
Gimme Your Money Please
Let It Ride
Take It Like A Man
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
Blue Collar
Takin' Care Of Business

Freeways
Freeways (1977)

Can We All Come Together
Life Still Goes On
Shotgun Rider
Just For You
My Wheels Won't Turn
Down Down
Easy Groove
Freeways

Street Action
Street Action (1978)

I'm In Love
Down The Road
Takes A Lot Of People
A Long Time For A Little While
Street Action
For Love
Madison Avenue
You're Gonna Miss Me
The World Is Waiting For A Love Song

Rock And Roll Nights
Rock And Roll Nights (1979)

Jamaica
Heartaches
Heaven Tonight
Rock And Roll Nights
Wastin' Time
Here She Comes Again
End Of The Line
Rock And Roll Hell
Amelia Earhart

Live Live Live
Live Live Live (1986)

Hey You
Mississippi Queen
Sledgehammer
Fragile Man
Bad News Travels Fast
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
Roll On Down The Highway
Takin' Care Of Business

Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits (1987)

Lookin' Out For #1
Roll On Down The Highway
Hey You
Freeways
Takin' Care Of Business
Down Down
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
Let It Ride
Flat Broke Love
Can We All Come Together
Rock And Roll Nights
Jamaica

Trial By Fire
Trial By Fire (1996)

House Of The Rising Sun
Roll On Down The Highway
Trial By Fire
Hold Back The Water
Blue Collar
Gimme Your Money Please
Let It Ride
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
Not Fragile
Hey You
Take It Like A Man
Nothin' Comes Easy
Testify
Four Wheel Drive
A Sense Of Danger














BTO Anthology
BTO Anthology (1993)

The Letter
I Think You Better Slow Down/Slow Down Boogie
Hold Back The Water
Blue Collar
Gimme Your Money Please
Stayed Awake All Night
Thank You For The Feeling
Takin' Care of Business
Give It Time
Welcome Home
Let It Ride
Free Wheelin
Sledgehammer
Blue Moanin'
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet
Not Fragile
Rock Is My Life and This Is My Song
Roll On Down The Highway
Four Wheel Drive
Hey You
Flat Broke Love
Don't Let The Blues Get You Down
Find Out About Love
It's Over
Take It Like A Man
Lookin Out For # 1
Down To The Line
Don't Get Yourself In Trouble (live)
Shotgun Rider
I'm In Love
Heartaches


Other Biographies

Back to Canadian Classic Rock Main Page