Sunday, August 14, 2011

Apple #542: Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Anyone else hear "Michelle Bachmann" and think "Bachman-Turner Overdrive?"

Honestly, I couldn't tell you what songs they did. I'm sure I know the songs, but if I heard them I wouldn't be able to identify Bachman-Turner Overdrive as the artist. So let's find out about the band.

  • The front man in Bachman-Turner Overdrive is Randy Bachman, originally from The Guess Who.
  • Bachman is Canadian (Winnipeg) and so were the rest of The Guess Who.
  • They had a bunch of hits. American Woman. No Time. These Eyes.

  • Somewhere in there, Bachman converted to Mormonism. After that, he and the rest of the Guess Who didn't get along so well. So he left.
  • After some solo work and teaming up with a couple other people briefly, he formed another band called Brave Belt. That included Chad Allan from The Guess Who and Bachman's brother Robbie on drums.
  • Allan left to get married and go to school, and a couple other guys joined: another brother Tim Bachman, and Fred Turner, who was recommended by Neil Young and was also Canadian.
  • They named this band Bachman-Turner and added the word "Overdrive" after Tim's trucker magazine which was called Overdrive. Thus Bachman-Turner Overdrive was born.
  • They didn't have much success until their second album which was released in 1973, and then Takin' Care of Business hit the big time.
  • In 1974, their next album included You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet, which was distinguished by the stuttering ("b-b-b-baby, you just ain't seen n-n-n-nothin' yet"), and which was a huge hit.

This is weird. The song You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet originally appeared on the album called Not Fragile. Maybe this is the cover of a single, not the full LP. But besides that, they spelled the name wrong. It's supposed to be Bachman with one n, not two.
(Photo from nostalgia and retrospection)

  • Randy had written the song years earlier in imitation of his brother Gary, who apparently stuttered. Gary said he always liked the song but he had no idea it had anything to do with him until he read about it in his brother's autobiography.
  • Randy originally submitted a non-stuttering version to the label, but they rejected it.
  • The Stuttering Foundation recently named it the greatest rock song featuring stuttering lyrics. They chose it over Bennie and the Jets by Elton John, Changes by David Bowie, and My Generation by The Who because only You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet hit number one and was about a real person.
  • After 1974, the band started going through what would become typical: one guy would leave, another join. One guy leaves, another joins, and the name changes only slightly. Rinse and repeat.
  • Randy wanted the band to go more country-rock. Fred Turner wanted it to sound heavier. The two disagreed and eventually, in 1977, Randy left.
  • After Randy's departure, the band changed their name to BTO.
  • The minus-Randy BTO version of the band released two albums, Rock n Roll Nights and Street Action. Neither one did very well.

Album cover of Rock n Roll Nights. Screams success, doesn't it?

  • I'd tell you some of the song names from those two albums (Amelia Earhart, Rock n Roll Hell, You're Gonna Miss Me, Takes a Lot of People), but I doubt you'd recognize them.
  • In 1983, they reunited as Bachman-Turner Overdrive, mostly touring as the opening act for Van Halen. They recorded a studio album and a couple of live albums.

The late 80s version, or the "new BTO." Robbie's not in the band and Randy's not pictured here. Of the Bachmans, only Tim.
(Photo from

  • Since then, there have been a lot of lawsuits and even more confusion over the name. The lawsuits have to do whether the band could call themselves BTO and they've had to pay lots of money to keep using it.
  • Many fans shorten Bachman-Turner Overdrive to BTO, even though they're supposed to be different bands. Or the bands have been slightly different versions with a few different people, who often play songs that the original Bachman-Turner Overdrive released in the 1970s.
  • So, yeah, it's probably better just to talk about their glory days. Hey, remember that song, You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet? That's a good song to sing along to when it comes on the radio, isn't it?
I met a devil woman, she took my heart away
She said I had it comin' to me, but I wanted it that way
I think that any love is good lovin'
And so I took what I could get, mmm
Oooh, oooh, she looked at me with big brown eyes
And said

You ain't seen nothin' yet
B-B-B-Baby, you just ain't seen nothin' yet
Here's something that you never gonna forget
B-B-B-Baby, you just ain't seen nothin' yet

Turns out, this entry has nothing to do with Michelle Bachmann after all. Her eyes are blue!

Sources, Driving Music: Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Bachman-Tuner Overdrive biography
Aldo Santin, "Stuttering Foundation salutes BTO hit You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," Winnipeg Free Press, August 8, 2011

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