Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bachman, Turner takin' care of business

Rock legends reuniting for Manitoba Homecoming 2010

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Randy Bachman and Fred Turner have some unfinished business to take care of together.

The former Bachman-Turner Overdrive bandmates are reuniting for the first time since 1991 for a series of European dates and an appearance in Winnipeg as part of the Manitoba Homecoming 2010.

"Randy and I have kind of been talking a little bit from time to time. He was asking me how retirement was going and I told him I was interested in doing a few shows again because the other guys weren't interested in it, and he said maybe we could throw something together and see if there's interest in it," Turner said recently from his Winnipeg home.

The two will be backed by Bachman's regular band and won't be playing as either Bachman-Turner Overdrive or BTO because of legal issues surrounding the use of those names.

"Randy suggested Bachman-Turner United, or I said to him, 'You probably don't need anything, just call it Bachman-Turner and people will know what it is,'" Turner said.

Bachman formed BTO with bassist-vocalist Turner, multi-instrumentalist Chad Allen and drummer Robbie Bachman, his brother, in 1971 following his departure from the Guess Who. They recorded two albums as Brave Belt before taking the name Bachman-Turner Overdrive, which is how they were known in the United States. They went through some lineup changes with Tim Bachman taking over from Allen before Blair Thornton settled into the second guitarist slot.

The band scored several hits on both sides of the border through the 1970s, including You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, Takin' Care of Business, Hey You, Roll on Down the Highway and Let it Ride. Bachman left the band following the release of the 1977 album Freeways. The band continued on without him for two years then dissolved. They reunited a couple of times in the 1980s with Randy Bachman leaving for good in 1991.

The band -- featuring Turner, Robbie Bachman, Thornton and Randy Murray -- continued playing together as BTO until 2004. In 2003 the Canadian Music Hall of Fame was going to induct the group but the band declined because of disagreements over getting on stage and being inducted with Randy.

Any animosity between Turner and his former band mate was patched up years ago, said Turner, who recently sang vocals on a song for Bachman's forthcoming solo album.

"I've always had a good relationship with Randy over the years. We went through our moments, a lot of the things I look back at and thought was his fault, I realized it was my fault because of the stress and the industry and things like that," he said.

The Bachman-Turner reunion was sparked by interest in the band from agents in Europe, Brazil, South America and Australia. The Manitoba Homecoming 2010 was a bonus, said Turner.

He doesn't know how long the reunion will last or if the duo will commit to a full tour.

"It all depends on what happens out there. We know there are one-offs out there that are good enough to support us. In the environment of where the music industry is today, who knows? It's a funny music industry out there now. Randy has a better feel now because he never quit; he kept on plowing along. It's kind of new to me again, which is good because there's a freshness added to it," Turner said.

"It will come back together I'm sure. Randy's such a good guitar player and he's never left it. He's got so much knowledge. All I have to do is stand beside him and yell a little bit."

Turner, 65, is retired and spends his free time working on cars. He is a self-described "gear-head" and has a collection of Corvettes he has been taking apart.

He still keeps his music chops up though, and practises about two hours a day.

The contracts have just been finalized and no rehearsals have been scheduled yet, but Turner predicts smooth jamming.

"You know what? It's just like turning on a switch. It's like falling off a bike and getting back on. He's got 50 years of playing; I've got 47 or 48 years of playing. Whether I'm going to be able to sing or not at 66 years old I guess I'm going to find that out too. You can sing all you want around home, but once you put your feet in the fire you never know," he said with a laugh.

"I'm excited about it. It swung my mental attitude around a bit. You get older and retire and you back away from things, where this is starting to open doors again. Oh boy, I better get off my ass and do something here."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 12, 2009 c3

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