Biography

Member of CAB Hall of Fame

Bachman, Randy

(1947- )

Randolph Charles Bachmann (the second ‘n’ was dropped early on in his career) was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on September 27th 1943, the eldest of four children.  His musical talents were early in evidence; he won a radio talent show at the age of three, began studying the violin at five, and first played guitar at thirteen.  While still in his teens, Randy met jazz guitarist Lenny Breau, who was a strong influence on Randy’s evolving technique and playing style. Randy would later found the record label Guitararachives, as a vehicle to make Breau’s music available again.

Randy joined Chad Allan and the Silvertones (later the Reflections, and then the Expressions) in the early 1960s, but it was with the invented name The Guess Who that the group’s first single, Shakin’ All Over, was released in 1965 and sold two million copies.  Burton Cummings had joined the Expressions in 1965, and in 1969 he and Randy began writing songs together. In 1968 Nimbus 9 records issued Wheatfield Soul, an album of eight Bachman/Cummings originals, but their first big hit was in 1969 with These Eyes, which was a million-seller for the Guess Who. No Time was another song that became a hit for the duo.

The Guess Who were much in demand for concerts and broadcasts, and were regularly featured on CBC Winnipeg rock series Let’s Go (1967-8) and Where It’s At (1968-9).

Randy left the group in 1970 with Chad Allan to form Brave Belt, which morphed into Brave Belt II and then Bachman-Turner Overdrive, with the advent of guitarist Fred Turner and the departure of Chad Allan. BTO enjoyed great success for several years in both Canada and the U.S., thanks largely to Randy’s skills as songwriter and guitarist.  Their hits included Let It Ride, Roll on Down the Highway, Takin’ Care of Business and You Ain’t Seem Nothin’ Yet. The last-named song was later recorded by the British group Bus Stop, and was also appropriated by Al Gore as the theme song for his 2000 Democratic presidential election campaign.

In 1977, Randy left BTO to form Ironhorse, which issued two albums over the next few years but did not enjoy the same degree of success as Randy’s previous groups. In 1981 he formed Union, which had modest success, but he later reformed BTO for occasional revivals, and eventually for three years of touring between 1988 and 1991.

In parallel with his group work, Randy had a very successful career as a solo act, making several albums, appearing on American Bandstand, and doing several record dates with other musicians including Neil Young.  His songs Let It Ride, Hey You and No Sugar Tonight received strong airplay, and American Woman was used in the movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Randy Bachman won many awards during his career.  He received the Juno for Record Producer of the year in 1975, the year in which BTO was voted Group of the Year and had the Best Selling Album with Not Fragile.   He was inducted into the Juno Hall of Fame in 1987, and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2002, the year in which he was also recognized with a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award.  In 2005, he was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and made a Member of the Order of Manitoba.

In November 2005, Randy Bachman’s exceptional contributions in so many facets of Canadian popular music were recognized by his being inducted into the CAB Hall of Fame in the Music Star category.

 In July 2008, Randy Bachman was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. The Investiture took place on May 15th 2009.

Source: Encyclopedia of Music in Canada: www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca

Written by Pip Wedge - October, 2005

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