Bachman-Turner Overdrive | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Bachman-Turner Overdrive, also known as (Brave Belt 1970-2, Bachman-Turner Overdrive 1972-7, BTO from 1978).

Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Bachman-Turner Overdrive, also known as (Brave Belt 1970-2, Bachman-Turner Overdrive 1972-7, BTO from 1978). Rock band, formed in 1970 in Winnipeg as the country-rock band, Brave Belt, by guitarist Randy Bachman (b Winnipeg, 27 Sept 1943) and singer-keyboardist-guitarist Chad Allan (b Winnipeg, 29 Mar 1943; both former members of the Guess Who) with the drummer Rob (Robin) Bachman (b Winnipeg, 18 Feb 1953). The band recorded Brave Belt I (1970, Reprise RS-6447) and, after adding singer and bass guitarist C.F. (Fred) Turner (b Winnipeg, 16 Oct 1943), they released, Brave Belt II (1971, Reprise MS-2057). The single, 'Dunrobin's Gone,' was a minor hit in Canada.

In 1972, with the departure of Allan and the addition of the guitarist Tim Bachman (b Winnipeg, 1 Aug 1951), the group assumed the name Bachman-Turner Overdrive and adopted an aggressive hard-rock style. Following Bachman-Turner Overdrive (1972, Mercury SRM-1673) and Bachman-Turner Overdrive II (1973, Mercury SRM-696), Blair Thornton (b Vancouver, 23 July 1950) succeeded Tim Bachman in 1974.

BTO's Early Successes

Though based in Vancouver after 1972, Bachman-Turner Overdrive built its career mainly in the US, appearing as an opening act and then, by late 1974, as a concert headliner on the strength of a high-powered stage show and the hit singles 'Blue Collar,' 'Let It Ride,' and 'Takin' Care of Business'. The single 'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet' sold more than a million copies in 1974 and was followed by the popular 'Roll On Down the Highway,' 'Hey You,' 'Take It Like a Man,' Lookin' Out for Number One,' and 'Down the Line'. Describing the group's music, Larry LeBlanc wrote: 'They've merged a hard-edged Memphis country/rock instrumental sound with the sweaty 1956-7 rock and roll and the hardness of the earliest days of British Mod. Overall, it's an unabashedly commercial hard-rock framework' (The Music Scene, Nov-Dec 1974).

The band's Canadian appearances began with a national tour in 1975, that included concerts at the Pacific Coliseum, the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), and other stadiums and arenas. The band also toured Europe (1975) and Japan (1976). Other albums issued by Mercury were Not Fragile (SRM-1-1004); Four Wheel Drive (SRM-1-1027) which became a platinum selling album during the first week of its release; Head On (SRM-1-1067); Freeways (SRM-1-3700); BTO Japan Tour Live (SRM-1-3703); and the compilation The Best of BTO (So Far) (SRM-1-1101).

The band received several Juno Awards beginning with most promising group (1974); in 1975 and 1976 they were named group of the year; they received Junos for best album of the year, three years in a row ((Bachman-Turner Overdrive, 1974;Not Fragile, 1975; and Four-Wheel Drive, 1976) and received single of the year for ('You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet', 1976), etc. Its first five LPs, and the The Best of BTO, each sold more than 100,000 copies in Canada and 500,000 in the USA. Total sales internationally exceeded an estimated 20 million.

Changes and Recordings 1974-87

In 1974 Tim Bachman left BTO, and in 1977 Randy Bachman left the band to resume the solo career he had begun in 1970. Turner and Thornton became co-lead guitarist in Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and the bassist and singer Jim Clench (once of April Wine) was added. After Tim and Randy Bachman left the group the remaining members bought the rights to the name BTO (the acronym which had been in popular use for some time) and officially adopted the name in 1978. The new lineup released Street Action (Mercury SRM-1-3713) in 1978 and Rock 'n' Roll Nights (Mercury SRM-1-3748) in 1979. The latter included the popular 'Heartaches'. Partly due to declining sales of their albums, the group temporarily disbanded in 1979.

While BTO was inactive, Turner, Randy Bachman and others formed Union (1981) and recorded On Strike (Portrait FR-37368). A revived BTO with Randy and Tim Bachman, Turner, Billy Chapman on keyboard, and drummer Garry Peterson (from the Guess Who) recorded BTO (Compleat CPL-1-1010) in 1983, and toured in Canada and the US - eg, opening (without Turner) for Van Halen in 1986. Using tracks culled from their concert tours, they released Live! Live! Live! (1986). Randy Murray (guitar), David Reimer (bass), and John Cody (drums) each briefly performed with BTO (1986-7).

BTO, 1988-2000s

The group went through more personnel changes in 1988 with a reunited BTO comprising Randy, Tim, and Rob Bachman; Vince Ditrich; Turner and Thornton, and toured until 1991. Randy Bachman left the group for the final time and was replaced by Randy Murray; the group toured until 2004 and in 2006 released Trial by Fire: Greatest and Latest, a mixture of BTO classics and new songs.

Both 'Blue Collar' and 'Roll On Down the Highway' were honoured at the SOCAN awards in 2008 for achieving the 100,000-airplay mark on domestic radio.


Melhuish, Martin. Bachman-Turner Overdrive (Toronto 1976)

Selected Discography

Bachman-Turner Overdrive. 1973. Mercury

Bachman-Turner Overdrive II. 1973. Mercury

Not Fragile. 1974. Mercury

Four Wheel Drive. 1975. Mercury

Head On. 1975. Mercury

Best of Bachman-Turner Overdrive (So Far). 1976. Mercury

Freeways. 1977. Mercury

BTO Live - Japan Tour. 1977. Mercury

Street Action. 1978. Mercury

Rock n' Roll Nights. 1979. Mercury

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet. 1983

Bachman-Turner Overdrive. 1984. Compleat

Live Live Live. 1986. Curb Records

BTO's Greatest. 1986. Mercury

The Anthology. 1993. Mercury

Best of Bachman-Turner Overdrive Live. 1994. Curb Records

Trial By Fire: Greatest and Latest. 1996. CMC

King Biscuit Flower Hour: Bachman-Turner Overdrive. 1998. King Biscuit

20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: The Best of Bachman-Turner Overdrive. 2000. MCA Records

Trial by Fire. 2000. Phantom

The Very Best Of Bachman Turner Overdrive. 2001. Falcon Neue Medien

Bachman Turner Overdrive Gold. 2005. Mercury

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