As a member of the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Randy Bachman played a pivotal role in recording some of the biggest songs in rock history.
In Part 2 of our interview with Bachman, the blue-collar rocker reminisces about his time in both bands and provides an update on a lost album that is now seeing the light of day.
Goldmine: The biggest Guess Who album here in the States was the #9 American Woman. You got a #1 hit with BTO’s Not Fragile from 1974. Can you share some thoughts on the impact of those albums, both of which contained #1 singles for you?
Randy Bachman: If my memory is correct, the American Woman album and single were #1 in May of 1970. Then, in 1974, BTO’s Not Fragile album and “You Ain’t Seen Nothin Yet” hit #1. Both were very memorable moments in my life. Having written the songs, played on them, produced the music, etc., and hitting the top of the charts is a great feeling. The impact of those #1s I guess is like winning an Acadamy award. You enter a zone of achievment beyond your wildest dreams. In the end, it’s only all numbers and out of your control, and it’s amazing when it happens because there are so many factors that contribute to a #1 album or single.
GM: When you left Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you formed a group called Ironhorse and charted another top 40 single with “Sweet Lui Louise” in 1979. What prompted you to leave BTO to form this band?
RB: Well, all good things come to an end, and all things fall apart. I guess the fans would like every band to stay together forever. I personally would have loved The Beatles, Buffalo Springfield, The Beach Boys and so many more to stay together forever, but that isn’t real life.
In real life, it’s so hard to throw a bunch of people together in a small place and expect it to be an endless joy ride. So, like everything else, my time in those bands came to an end. I was with The Guess Who for about nine years, with BTO about five years. I was so totally thrilled with Ironhorse to write, sing, and produce “Sweet Lui Louise” and have it [be a] Billboard [hit and a hit] in Italy where I toured for a couple of weeks. It was another surreal ride for me.
GM: What are your favorite Guess Who and BTO songs to play live?
RB: There’s nothing like kicking into the opening riffs of “American Woman” and “Taking Care of Business.” Both of these songs were kind of jammed/written on stage, and there’s still that certain excitement everytime I start the song. Both of them have sold millions of copies and logged millions of airplays, and the audience reaction is always the same. I’m so grateful for these songs.
GM: All of your BTO-era albums were hits. What’s your personal favorite when you look back at them?
RB: I feel the the Not Fragile album was the best, as it was the maturation of the sound, the songs, the studio performance and establishing our name.
GM: Any chance of ever reuniting with The Guess Who or even BTO for a one-off concert? Or, are you pretty content just to work with Burton Cummings?
RB: With Burton Cummings, I cover all the music. Our fans get a great deal. We play all the hits from both the bands, plus some tracks from our solo careers, and now we’re to the point of playin