Taking care of business

TAKING CARE: Bachman and Turner are still in overdrive.
TAKING CARE: Bachman and Turner are still in overdrive.

Seventies hit makers Bachman Turner Overdrive are now Bachman and Turner. Randy Bachman tells Steve Scott why the Canadian duo will finally play New Zealand this month.

BACHMAN Turner Overdrive's biggest hit in New Zealand was You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet - No 1 for two weeks back in 1974. But the Canadian band, whose other hits included Taking Care of Business and Roll on Down the Highway, never got to New Zealand.

Now, nearly 40 years later, two of the band's founders, Randy Bachman and Fred Turner, play Taupo and Wellington this month as part of a three-pronged lineup with Pat Benatar and America.

On the phone from Toronto in Canada, Bachman says he is "thrilled to have the opportunity to tour New Zealand for the first time". "We have never been to New Zealand before and it will be a thrilling opportunity to play to our fans. To be on the same gig as America and Pat Benatar is going to be an amazing journey through the past, as Neil Young would say."

Bachman gained huge success way back in 1970 when, as a writer, singer and guitarist, he formed Canadian band The Guess Who and scored a global hit with the song American Woman, featuring vocalist Burton Cummings. Following a succession of No 1 albums including Share the Land and So Long Bannatyne, Bachman quit The Guess Who and formed a more driving-rock band, Bachman Turner Overdrive.

BTO gained global success selling in excess of 30 million records. After more than 20 years apart, Bachman is back with guitarist Turner and performing as Bachman and Turner.

Bachman says the inspiration for a reunion came when he was planning a solo album a few years ago and decided to feature guest vocalists. "I was recording a solo album in London and thought I would feature guest vocalists so I called up Neil Young and Paul Rodgers who both agreed.

"Suddenly I had a thought, why don't I contact Fred Turner and see if he would be interested?"

Bachman emailed him a track, Turner sang on it and emailed it back. "The minute I heard Fred's voice I thought oh my god, do you have anymore?"

Bachman decided to suspend his solo album for a later date and focus on a Bachman Turner album. It was released last year.

Bachman had also been receiving emails from a Swedish rock promoter, asking him to play at its festival in Sweden.

Within months of the albums release, Bachman and Turner played to 38,000 punters in Sweden, 29,000 in London and headlined a gig at New York's Roseland Ballroom from which a live DVD was released late last year.

After more than 40 years in music, Bachman says it is the pure fun of playing music that continues to inspire him.

"It's definitely not the airlines. It's the music and the song.

"You know when you're a shy kid and you go along to a rehearsal and get up and sing, some like it, some do not. Then you sing another couple, people like it, it is played on the radio, 10 years later they still like it and 30 years later it's known as a classic.'

"But you are just a kid who one day made up a song and you end up feeling very grateful that the teenage-dream thing has kept going. It is absolutely amazing and it's that feeling that keeps me going."

When performing in New Zealand, Bachman and Turner will play the classic hits along with a few new songs.

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet was originally written by Turner as a joke, just to get the sound of the bass and drums correct in the studio during the recording of the album Not Fragile.

During the recording, their label manager arrived to hear the songs.

"He told us, ‘I like the songs, but I don't hear a hit single'.

"Our engineer said ‘Play him the working track Randy'.

"I played him You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet and he went crazy."

The song went to No 1 around the world and sold over two million copies. "It was just a throw-away song, I originally wrote it for my brother who stutters. I put the stutter on it and made a cassette of it and mailed it to him as a joke . . . The amazing thing was, when it was released, my brother stopped stuttering."

Bachman & Turner, America, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Amphitheatre, Taupo, February 16, and Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, February 20

The Dominion Post