#517: Hey You by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Randolph Charles Bachman was born in 1943 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When he was just three years old he entered the King of the Saddle singing contest on CKY radio, Manitoba’s first radio station that began in 1923. Bachman won the contest. When he turned five years he began to study the violin through the Royal Toronto Conservatory. Though he couldn’t read music, he was able to play anything once he heard it. He dropped out of high school and subsequently a business administration program in college. He co-founded a Winnipeg band called The Silvertones with Chad Allan in 1960. In 1962 the band became Chad Allan and the Expressions, and was renamed The Guess Who? in 1965 with their first big hit, “Shakin’ All Over”. The Guess Who dropped the question mark in their title a few years later.
Burton Cummings replaced Chad Allan and the band went on to score major international hits like “American Woman” and “These Eyes”. While “American Woman” was #1 in May 1970, Randy Bachman left The Guess Who, in part due to his zeal for Mormonism. Bachman released a solo album called Axe, and in 1971 formed a band called Brave Belt. This included his brothers Robbie and Tim and Chad Allan. Fred Turner then replaced Chad Allan. Their country-rock sound was quieter then the rock n’ roll of the Guess Who. At a concert in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Brave Belt was asked to play a set of classic rock songs. As written in Michael Heatley’s The Turbulent History of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Bachman recalls in “We instantly saw the difference between playing sit-down music people could talk over and playing music they would jump out of their seats and dance to.” By 1973, they were billed as the Bachman-Turner Overdrive. In the mid-70s the BTO would have a half a dozen Top Ten hits in Canada and a #1 internationally with “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”. In the 1970’s BTO sold over 7 million albums. Their 1970s catalog included five Top 40 albums and six Top 40 singles. Over the years the band has sold nearly 30 million albums worldwide.
In 1973, BTO had a self-titled debut album. Although the formation of BTO didn’t involve a typical Top 40 single on their debut album, their constant touring gave them a base ready for their subsequent releases. The second single release from the album made the Billboard Hot 100 and the Canadian RPM Top 40. The song was called “Blue Collar”.
BTO would enjoy a series of Top Ten hits over the following years including “Talkin’ Care of Business”, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” and “Roll On Down the Highway”. BTO recorded nine studio albums between 1973 and 1979 and in 1984. Seven singles made the Top 20 on the Canadian RPM charts, and three of these made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. BTO had ten singles reach the Top 20 in Vancouver. One of these was “Hey You” in the summer of 1976.
“Hey You” is a song about keeping pace with what is unfolding in one’s life. While others may want to change the world, the role of the band is to keep time and keep on playing their set on stage. The singer owes their circumstance in life to the “circle game.” This is a reference to a song by Joni Mitchell, also made popular by Buffy Sainte-Marie. The seasons of our lives go around and around, and the carousel of time takes us to some place we were either heading to, or surprised to find in our unfolding. In the song the singer advises people to “take it easy,” and to realize things “sooner.” We all have an opportunity to pay attention to where we are in the movement of our lives. As we notice what lies before us, it is up to us to make an effort and “try” our hand at something. If we keep our wits about us, and apply ourselves to a craft we are good at we can end up like the singer and say to ourselves “with me there’s no regret.”
“Hey You” peaked at #1 in Toronto, #2 in Vancouver (BC), #3 in San Bernardino (CA), #4 in Columbus (OH), #5 in Cleveland and Sioux Falls (SD), #6 in Wichita Falls (TX), #7 in Peterborough (ON), Sacramento (CA), Chicago and Akron (OH), #8 in Ottawa and #9 in Pittsburgh.
In 2002, as a member of The Guess Who, Bachman was one of the former bandmates who received The Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, a Canadian award noting excellence in the performing arts. Bachman has also received the distinction of being made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008. Since 2005 Randy Bachman has hosted a pop music retrospective show on the CBC called Vinyl Tap. Songs like BTO’s “Taking Care Of Business” have been referenced in the TV show The Simpsons. C. F. “Fred” Turner had a vocal appearance with Randy Bachman on an episode of The Simpsons in 2000.
Since 2005, Randy Bachman has been a host of Vinyl Tap,a show on CBC Radio where he plays sets of pop tunes and discusses some of the details he knows about the performers and musicians he’s met. In 2008 Randy Bachman was awarded the Order of Canada. This is a medal given by the governor-general of Canada to persons who have made a major difference to Canada in their field of work.
September 20, 2019
Randy Bachman bio, Randy Bachman.com
Michael Heatley, From Rags to Riches and Back: The Turbulent Story of Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Team Rock.com, Bath, UK, December 17, 2016.
Randy Bachman, Vinyl Tap, CBC, Toronto, Ontario.
LDS PROPHET Brigham Young, JoD, vol.7, pp. 289-91.
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