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A Band by Any Other Name Is Not Overdrive

December 01, 1988|GUY AOKI

Bachman-Turner Overdrive is on the road again. The band, best remembered for "Takin' Care of Business" in 1974, will be at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Friday night--and, co-leader Randy Bachman emphasizes, it is not to be confused with a band called BTO that is also out touring.

That band, Bachman said, is being led by none other than his younger brother Tim, who "was a member of the original group for only an album and a half." The group includes no Turner whatsoever, and no other musicians who played on the old hits.

Randy is not amused.

"People boo them and demand their money back," he said of his brother's band. "I would get calls from as far away as Hawaii saying 'We're glad you're coming, we look forward to seeing you perform here.' And I would say, 'I'm not with those guys. It's my brother Tim and a bunch of clones.' "

So, in January, when the original band's old manager asked Randy if he would be interested in putting the quartet back together for a series of dates, the singer-guitarist jumped at the chance to reconnect with bassist/co-lead singer C.F. Turner, drummer Robbie Bachman (yet another of the four Bachman brothers) and guitarist Blair Thornton.

It wasn't the first time he had pulled the moniker out of mothballs: Randy and C.F. had revived Bachman-Turner Overdrive late in '83, 6 years after the original band broke up. Brother Tim had been in the '83 edition (as had bassist Garry Peterson, with whom Randy had played in the Guess Who), and when Randy and C.F. left after a tour as Van Halen's opening act, Tim stayed on the road with a new group of musicians.

When Tim decided to call his new group BTO, Randy took him to court, arguing that BTO and Bachman-Turner Overdrive are synonymous business entities. Randy says he won the case but that Tim won't be prohibited from using the BTO name until May 1. Tim could not be reached for comment. In any case, Randy plans to keep his present group together for a while and is working on new material he would like to record next year.

Did he ever entertain any notions of instead rejoining the Guess Who, which is also back on the road in Southern California these days? It turns out that the Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive actually toured together for a while recently, but Bachman didn't join his old band mates for even one song.

"Nobody asked me," he says.

Bachman left the Guess Who in 1970 at the height of the group's popularity, as "American Woman" sat at the top of the singles charts. Bachman, who had converted to the Mormon faith, said he was tired of his band mates' "bad habits." Last summer, Bachman reunited with the Guess Who's old lead singer, Burton Cummings (also not part of the current Guess Who regrouping), to record an album, but it was rejected by 10 major labels. Ultimately, the partnership broke up--again--this time over disagreements as to who owned what in the old Guess Who songwriting catalogue.

But Bachman is quick to note that his legacy extends beyond contract disputes and broken friendships: Many of today's heavy metal bands cite Bachman-Turner Overdrive's old records as major influences on their own music.

"Some of these guys will play the most incredible heavy metal riffs, then say, 'Would you show me the chords to 'Lookin' Out For No. 1?'," Bachman said with a laugh. "And I say, 'Sure . . . if you show me that run you just did.' "

Bachman-Turner Overdrive plays Friday at 8 and 10:30 p.m. at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano. Tickets: $17.50. Information: (714) 496-8930.

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