BTO inspired by Overdrive
November 15, 2010 | by: Lucinda Coulter
On its climb to stardom in 1973, the Bachman-Turner band formed the group’s now-famous name inauspiciously one evening in Windsor, Ontario. They had stopped at the Colonial Steak House at the Brown Brothers Truck Stop to eat, “hungry, tired, battling with a cranky bus and in need of a big meal,” according to an August 1975 Overdrive feature.
When the-then still struggling rock band saw a copy of Overdrive for sale at the truck stop, a quirky inspiration struck, Overdrive‘s reporter writes: “They read it, and immediately decided that this was the punchy-sound, the authoritative last name to add to Bachman-Turner.” The band had recently dropped singer Chad Allen, who was the lead singer with the Guess Who, which Randy Bachman had started. His brothers, drummer Robbie Bachman and guitarist Tim Bachman completed the evolving group.
Shortly after coming up with a new handle, they released their first album under the newly designed silver-metallic B-T-O logo, with the stylized design of a gear.
Fred Turner told Overdrive that the group “wanted a heavy, metallic, industrial image” and “something that would click.”
It clicked. Then it exploded.
By December of that year, the group, under its new name, had released its first two albums, both of which were wildly popular. Their 1970s repertoire includes five Top 40 albums and six Top 40 singles. More than 20 million of their albums sold worldwide, and the group is still known for its seemingly boundless hunger for touring, as Overdrive described it, “an on-stage cauldron of energy, motion and incessant hard-rock music.”
The magazine featured the band at one of its sold-out concerts at the Forum in Los Angeles for the story and described some of the set-up and rehearsal the afternoon of the concert. Also, Fred Turner talked to Overdrive’s reporters at the editorial offices, where he “eased his bulky frame into an arm chair, propped his feet up and chatted.”
Long known as a mechanic, Turner told the magazine that he was near completing a big block Corvette and had plans to start on a Firebird Trams Am.
Turner had plenty to say in response to a query about truckers’ known preference to country music, over rock-n-roll.
“They’re really into the country stuff. I know truckers at George Smith out of Winnipeg. They run up and down the West Coast (Canada) and into the State a little. All his guys are into country. Truckers are alike all over, even in Canada. They’re beer drinkin’, foot stompin’ guys and that’s what they like. It’s just something that goes along with the industry. That doesn’t bother us; we still use the name anyway.”
On hiatus since 2005, the group has reunited, in part, to write songs and tour. Fred Turner and Randy Bachman performed in Sweden in June, and on Nov. 28, the duo is headlining the half-time show for 98th Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League’s counterpart to the Super Bowl in the United States.
A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, owner-operator Mike Beernaerts says that Bachman and Turner most likely will be prepared to perform on stage wearing ski jackets and gloves with the fingers cut out. “But that’s quintessentially Canadian,” he said in a phone interview while waiting at a dealership on repairs to his 2006 Kenworth W900L. Although Beernaerts was only 9 in 197, when B-T-O had hit their stride, he says that everyone, young or old, is proud of its rock star native sons.
“Winnipeg has a rich musical history, with Randy Bachman, Turner and Neil Young, who performed with Randy at teen dances in the early days,” Beernaerts says, noting that his favorite B-T-O hits include “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” and “Let it Ride.”
His hometown appreciates the recent reunion of the two icons, Beernaerts says. “They’ve even got a petition online to rename one of the overpasses the Bachman-Turner Overpass. I’m in favor of it because these guys have made a contribution to the history of Winnipeg, and they are beloved figures.”