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Trivia Q & A # 27 - 2016

Posted in: News, Trivia Q & A | 1 Comment | Posted on by Mary Anne

Q.   Which Canadian Band appeared on ‘the Simpsons’?

A.  Bachman Turner Overdrive

They voiced themselves in the season 11 episode “Saddlesore Galactica”.

Bart: Who are those pleasant old men?
Homer: That’s BTO. They’re Canada’s answer to EOP. Their big hit was TCB. That’s how we talked in the 70s. We didn’t have a moment to spare!

After leaving The Guess Who at the height of that band’s success, Randy Bachman recalled being labelled “a lunatic and a loser” and that “nobody wanted to work with me.” The exception was Chad Allan, former Guess Who lead singer/keyboardist who had left that band four years before Randy. The two agreed to explore a musical project, and Randy then turned to family. The result was the band Brave Belt, formed in Winnipeg in 1971 with the additions of Randy’s brother Robin “Robbie” Bachman on drums, and Gary Bachman acting as band manager. Brave Belt’s self-titled first album, which saw Randy playing both lead guitar and bass, did not sell particularly well and Allan left the band shortly after its release. The record label still wanted them to tour, so Randy (at the suggestion of Neil Young) hired fellow Winnipeg bassist/vocalist C.F. “Fred” Turner to perform in the band’s scheduled gigs.

According to Randy Bachman’s autobiography, the seeds of the BTO sound were sown at a university gig in Thunder Bay, Ontario shortly after Allan’s departure. A promoter, disheartened with reactions to Allan’s country-flavoured songs, which the band was still playing, decided to sack Brave Belt for the Saturday night show and bring in a more rock-oriented replacement fromToronto. When that didn’t materialize, he begged Brave Belt to stay on and play a set of classic rock cover songs. As the band played songs like “Proud Mary”, “Brown Sugar” and “All Right Now”, all featuring Turner’s gruff “Harley-Davidson” voice, the dance floor filled up and, according to Randy, “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.”

Turner was soon asked to be a full-time member and sing lead for the recording of Brave Belt II in 1972. Chad Allan appeared as a vocalist on two Brave Belt II songs, but was essentially out of the band. During the tour to support this album, another Bachman sibling, Tim Bachman, was added as a second guitarist because the band had felt their three-piece arrangement was too restrictive.  Brave Belt II also failed to achieve any notable chart success, and in mid-1972 their supporting tour was cancelled halfway through. But Turner’s influence had started to make itself felt as the band was converting to a harder, guitar-heavy sound complemented by his throaty, powerful voice.

After Reprise Records dropped Brave Belt from their label, Randy emptied his own bank account to finance another set of recordings, and began to shop around the next album. The band eventually landed a new record deal from Mercury Records, one which Randy Bachman proclaimed as a pure stroke of luck.

After their demo tape had been rejected 26 times (sometimes more than once by the same label), Bachman was prepared to tell the other band members that they would no longer be able to remain on salary.  However, in April 1973, Charlie Fach of Mercury Records returned to his office after a trip to France to find a stack of unplayed demo tapes waiting on his desk. Wanting to start completely fresh, he took a trash can and slid all the tapes into it except one which missed the can and fell onto the floor. Fach picked up the tape and noticed Bachman’s name on it. He remembered talking to him the previous year and had told Bachman that if he ever put a demo together to send it to him. Coincidentally, Mercury had just lost Uriah Heep and Rod Stewart to other labels, and Fach was looking for new rock acts to replace them.

At this point the band’s demo tape was still called Brave Belt III. Fach convinced the band that a brand new name was needed; one that capitalized on the name recognition of the band members. The band had already mulled over using their surnames (à la Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young). While on their way back from a gig in Toronto, the group had spotted a copy of a trucker’s magazine called Overdrive while dining at the Colonial Steak House in Windsor, Ontario, run by Colonial Jim Lambros. After this, Turner wrote “Bachman–Turner Overdrive” and the initials “B.T.O.” on a serviette. The rest of the band decided the addition of “Overdrive” was the perfect way to describe their music.


Total: 1 Comment

kevin says: July 10, 2022 at 8:39 am | Reply

A very interesting article. thank you; I enjoyed it