Randy Bachman has a career that goes back 50 years, to when The Guess Who had its first hit. Since then, the Canadian icon has had consistent success, not only with the aforementioned band, but also with blues rock rollercoaster that was Bachman-Turner Overdrive. songs like American woman And You haven’t seen anything yet She became a part of rock music folklore. He met some people along the way.
He’s one of the musical idols I’ve ever known. And I played with him on BTO’s album face to face In 1975. I needed a two-track pianist. I told my boss that it would be great to have someone like Little Richard, and he said, “Well, what about the guy himself?” He had just finished a club show in Toronto, where we were recording at the time, so after a lot of negotiation, it was arranged for him to come into the studio.
The day arrived, and it wasn’t Little Richard. Hours passed and I picked up the guitar and started playing. Then someone told me that he finally showed up. Now, at the time, he was always introduced on stage by his band that started Lucille. So, as a tribute, I started playing those classics. In Little Richard walked. He wore an orange jumpsuit, with an orange robe and a large “R” in silver on his chest.
He heard me play Lucille And really angry. He shouted, ‘I’m not staying here for a white boy making money from my song. I will leave!’ I had to calm him down and explain that this was not the song I wanted him to play.
Now, the fun begins! The songs were in the keys A, D, and E – simple, or so I thought. But he couldn’t play those strings. He could only play in C. So, I had to use some clever tricks. He was getting so nervous about the whole thing that we started jamming into his own songs, just to relieve the tension.
Then I came up with the idea of slowing down the tape for one song, accept her as a man, it even works in the key of C. And we got a shot, even though Little Richard thought we were just rehearsing. When she played the song back to him, at normal speed, he was astonished.
“Who plays the piano?” he asked. I replied “You”. ‘Thank God!’ He shouted, “Randy Bachman taught me to play the key of A!” He was so excited that we did the other song as well – stay alive. Only after that was done did I tell him that he had been playing in C the whole time, and that I had used technology to change it. He was so angry that he ran out!
In 1969, The Guess Who played at a three-day event called the Seattle Pop Festival. Everyone was on the bill: Led Zeppelin, Ike and Tina Turner, The Doors, and Byrds. Boo Didley.
Now, no one filmed or recorded the festival, which may sound amazing, but it was true. There were no stickers, just a few handbooks. I was lucky enough to own one. I met Boo Diddley just before he died in 2008, and I went up to him and said, “Mr. McDaniel—his real name is Elias McDaniel, and it seemed a little strange to call him Mister Diddley—do you remember playing Seattle Pop Fest? Well, I got a handy bill of that I’d like to give you.
He was very grateful, because as I said there is no recorded evidence of this ever happening. “Oh, thank you,” he said. “I can finally prove to my grandchildren that I was on the same bill as all of those great bands. They always thought I was lying!”
I’ve never been able to meet him, but that’s a story in itself. It was thanks to seeing Elvis do Kind of sweets called Tutti Frutti On TV I gave up the classical violin and got into rock ‘n’ roll. Years later, I wrote the song Taken Care of Business for BTO. Elvis heard it on the radio and loved it so much and adopted it as his anthem.
Anyway, when the BTO was breaking up, we had the chance to meet Elvis. Well, the rest of the band was told about the meeting, but things were so bad between us that they never told me about it. So they went to meet the guy.
The first thing he said was, “Where’s Randy Bachman, the guy who wrote that song?” They said, “Eh, he didn’t reply.” I was shocked when I found out what happened. This was the man who changed my life! But when Elvis died, one of his escorts gave me a solid gold necklace he had always worn. It had the letters “TCB” on it, with lightning flashing through it.
World Health Organization
When I was at The Guess Who, we found out about this English band called The Who and they were determined to force them to change their name. So, we were in London and The Who was playing at The Marquee club. Down we went to meet them. They were filmed for German TV on that show, so we had to wait about four hours.
At the end, we meet them and say: “Look, we’ve been here before. So, change your name, it’s confusing people.” Pete Townshend looked at us and replied, “There are The Yardbirds and The Byrds. Nobody’s confused by that. So get out of the way.”
The two groups actually became great friends. And that phrase “bugger off” was our joke. We were checking into a hotel and finding out The Who was there, so we’d call one of the guys at 3 in the morning and when they’d answer we’d say, “Bugger off!” Then hang up. They will do the same with us.
I did a telethon in Toronto – one of those TV marathon charity experiments. Kate’s legacy was showing, and the dressing room facilities were poor. So, she clenched my fist and asked if I would lift a coat around her while she was putting on her stage equipment. So, there I was, putting on a coat while this beautiful woman went naked.
When she finished her mission, Legacy asked me to repeat the process. When she stood there, she got rid of her uniform, stood there for a second and then said, “That’s what you want to see!” And I immediately turned right in front of me – I had a great look at her nude photo. And she had a great body. What can I do other than rush to my room and comfort myself!
I also saw Tina Turner naked, but that was by chance. It was at the Seattle Pop Festival. I was watching the show on a raised platform, Tina was changed on the side of the stage, while Ikettes carried a blanket around. But my view was excellent – great legs!
BTO was due to perform in Boston and a local promoter asked if we’d like a young band called Aerosmith open for us. We checked them out, and they had a song on the radio called In the dream on time. It sounded pretty good, very Zeppelin, so we agreed.
We were here in our dressing room before that party, when this clown walked in. He wore silk pajamas, wore huge shades and was trying to raise everyone’s level. I don’t know how he bypassed our security, but we told him to come right out.
“Hey man, I…” He tried to explain. “Get out!” I yelled, “No, you don’t understand…” He tried again. “Outside!” I pushed him back into the aisle. That was the first time I met Stephen Tyler. Now when I see him, the first thing he says to me is: “OUT!”
I grew up in Winnipeg with Neil, and one of the biggest influences was The Shadows. In 2000, I found out that Sting was preparing an album honoring the Shadows called Twang! I called him and asked if Neil and I could be on it. He said there was room for another song. So I got Neil, who was ready for the idea. The problem was that all the classics were gone. Neil suggested we did it Spring is almost hereWhich I couldn’t remember at all.
I’ve gone through all my Shadows logs – loads more – but couldn’t find them anywhere. I tried to persuade Neil to do something else, but he was adamant. In the end I admitted that I did not remember the song. “We heard it on local radio in 1964, so think back then,” Neal said.
Well, to cut a long story, we were able to record our version, but one part of Neal’s guitar was a bit affected. He refused to change it, so I cunningly took the tapes, fixed them and sent the new copy to Neil, not expecting him to notice anything. Then I got a call from his manager: “Neil wants to use the original recording!” I picked it up right away.
A few years later, I met up with a couple of The Shadows and apologized to them for the way our version looked. They just laughed and said, “Oh, it’s the way we’ve always looked when we’re playing live.”
I grew up in the ice of Winnipeg wondering what kind of place would inspire a band like the Beach Boys. The sun, the surf…it was all weird to me, but I knew Brian was a genius. I only had a chance to tour with the Beach Boys when he was released from mental hospital and gradually returned to real life. It was an experience at the time. There was a lot of love and affection from the rest of the band towards him.
Brian used to have a hotel room next to mine, and that was when he was with psychiatrist Eugene Landy. Now, he’s fitted a hidden microphone in Brian’s room, along with his own subwoofer, so he can hear Brian’s exit. The problem was that he was like a child and was walking in straight lines and getting lost. So Landy was following him at a secret distance behind him, making sure he came back well.
Just being there while Brian was slowly recovering his faculties was an honor – a triumph for the human spirit.
What a scary man. I was at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, and he was expected to come in. Now, his engineer didn’t show up, so the guy I was using agreed to install Sinatra’s microphone and help him out. On Sinatra’s Walk, did someone take the song, and then my engineer said innocently, “Can we do another song, please?”
Sinatra looked at him and said, “What’s your name?” He replied, “Mark Smith.” Sinatra replied, “Okay.” “This One. You get one wrong with me and then you go out.” Looks like the guy only did one song. You didn’t get a second one.
Randy Bachman’s Radio Show Vinyl Tap is broadcast on commercial radio and is available online.