Rock music icon Randy Bachman has turned his endless creative drive towards an early mentor, hero, and inspiration. By George – By Bachman is a very personal and respectful nod to Beatles guitarist/songwriter George Harrison, offering Randy’s own unique interpretations of Harrison’s finest recorded work.
Make no mistake, this is not your typical tribute album. From the outset, Randy determined to avoid merely mimicking Harrison’s best-known contributions to the Beatles canon. Instead, he chose to re-imagine those iconic songs. This truly is a ‘Harrison by Bachman’ concept with Randy’s distinctively personal stamp and style placed on The Quiet Beatle’s music.
“On Jukebox, the covers album I did with Burton Cummings back in 2007, I took ‘I’m Happy Just To Dance With You,’ which wasn’t written by George but written for him to sing, and put a whole new groove on it,” Randy explains. “People already knew the lyrics so I put it into a new musical context and it worked. So for this album I figured I would take George’s songs, the ones everyone knows from the Beatles, and give them new grooves. I wanted the grooves, the tempo, and arrangements to be so unfamiliar and different but people would still know the song by the lyrics. I took the major keys and turned them into minors. When I played these arrangements, everybody was blown away. It was a whole new interpretation of a familiar song. I was quite excited about the prospect of re-imagining George Harrison’s songs.”
Familiar Harrison tunes such as “If I Needed Someone,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Here Comes The Sun,” and “Taxman,” as well as his Traveling Wilburys hit “Handle With Care,” are presented in a whole new context that refreshes and revitalizes them. “I listen to a lot of JAZZ FM radio,” notes Randy, “and always liked the way jazz guys would take a song by someone like Joni Mitchell and rearrange it so that the song started off kind of familiar but then they put their own jazz stamp on it.”
Randy Bachman stands in rarified air as a member of a very exclusive handful of artists who have topped the charts in two different bands: “American Woman” with The Guess Who and “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” as leader and singer with Bachman-Turner Overdrive. In a career spanning over five decades, he has earned over 120 platinum, gold and silver records. His distinctive brand of guitar-driven, no-holds-barred hard rock is instantly recognized worldwide. As host of the top-rated CBC and Sirius XM radio series Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap, his listeners number in the millions.
As the most celebrated musician in Canadian history, Randy counts among his many accolades his membership in the Order of Canada and the Order of Manitoba, as well as being twice inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame, and his inductions into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame, the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Prairie Music Hall of Fame. He is a recipient of the Manitoba Order of The Buffalo Hunt, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, the ASCAP Global Impact Award, and holder of an honorary Doctorate in Music from Brandon University. Randy has also earned multiple JUNO Awards as a songwriter, musician, band member, and producer. In addition, Randy can add best-selling author to his numerous list of accomplishments, having penned both Vinyl Tap Stories and Tales From Beyond The Tap.
From his earliest years with Chad Allan & the Reflections playing the local community club sock hop circuit in his prairie hometown of Winnipeg, Canada (alongside contemporary and friend Neil Young with his rival band The Squires) to the largest arenas and stadiums across the globe, Randy has remained singularly focused, determined, and driven. Beginning in 1965, Randy scored a #1 Canadian hit with his band The Guess Who’s infectious slice of British Invasion-style rock, “Shakin’ All Over.” Four years later, he and Guess Who lead singer Burton Cummings formed a successful songwriting partnership that yielded such international hits as “These Eyes,” “Laughing,” “Undun,” “No Time,” “No Sugar Tonight,” and “American Woman,” the latter holding down the coveted Billboard #1 spot for three weeks in 1970. “American Woman” has been recognized as the greatest Canadian single of all time. The Guess Who’s 1971 album The Best Of The Guess Who became the first album by a Canadian group to earn a platinum album award in the United States for sales well over one million units. Between 1969 and 1970, The Guess Who sold more records than the entire Canadian music industry combined, with the Bachman-Cummings songwriting team becoming the most celebrated partnership in Canadian music to that point.
Leaving The Guess Who in May 1970, Randy bounced back bigger than ever with Bachman-Turner Overdrive, one of the mid ‘70s most successful hard rock bands. BTO enjoyed hit singles worldwide with “Let It Ride,” “Roll On Down The Highway,” “Takin’ Care of Business,” “Hey You,” and “Looking Out For #1.” “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” written and sung by Randy, topped the charts in more than 20 countries on four continents. Their album Not Fragile sold over 3.5 million copies and topped the Billboard album charts. “Takin’ Care of Business” remains one of the most requested songs for commercial use in Sony Music’s catalogue.
In between BTO and Guess Who reunions, Randy released a dozen albums both under his own name or fronting Iron Horse and Union. His 1978 autobiographical solo album, Survivor, earned critical praise for its concept and execution. Randy teamed up with old friend Neil Young for “Prairie Town” on Randy’s acclaimed 1993 album Any Road. The two Canadian icons joined forces again in 1996 on Randy’s Merge album for the grunge rock anthem “Made In Canada.” Randy’s 2006 album Jazz Thing found the rock guitarist stepping into daring new territory both writing and playing jazz. More recently, Randy released Heavy Blues, an exploration of blues rock featuring guitar solos by multiple guest artists including Neil Young, Joe Bonamassa, and Peter Frampton.
In the new millennium, Randy enjoyed unprecedented acclaim both live and on CD and DVD with his Every Song Tells A Story multimedia concept, sharing the stories behind his best-known songs. Hosting Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap on radio has turned the veteran rock star into a media celebrity and Canada’s favourite storyteller.
A die hard Beatle fan and aficionado from the first time he heard the Fab Four on the radio back in 1963 (“I even kept a Beatles scrapbook back then and had their photo on my locker door at school,” he reveals), Randy is not surprised that the Beatles remain influential in our current musical lexicon. “They took us all musically and culturally from A to Z,” he notes. “From the simplicity and exhilaration of ‘She Loves You’ to the musical and lyrical complexity of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and beyond. It was an incredible musical journey of discovery that we all got to share with them, and it changed the world. No two Beatles songs were ever the same. And their appeal was so broad. My mother loved ‘Till There Was You’ and ‘A Taste Of Honey.’ They were so versatile. They evolved both individually and collectively.” And the Beatles’ music continues to resonate with successive generations. “Their legacy is incomparable.
“I remember traveling through the States on tour in the ‘60s and hearing a deejay on an American station announce, ‘We’re going to preview the new Beatles song at 2:00 pm’ and us pulling over right at the designated time to listen to it, and it was ‘Can’t Buy Me Love.’ Every release was a revelation and a celebration.”
As the Canadian rock legend acknowledges, “For several years, people who knew of my love for the Beatles in general and George Harrison in particular had suggested that I do an album of George’s songs. As the lead guitar player in my bands, I always identified with George. He was the lead guitar player who occasionally sang a song. With Chad Allan & the Reflections and later The Guess Who, I was the George Harrison in the band and sang his parts when we did Beatles songs. George was the quiet Beatle and I was the quiet me.” While never having the pleasure of meeting his hero, Randy nonetheless lived out the dream of a million Beatlemaniacs when he was invited to join Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band for their 1995 summer tour. “Every night on that tour I would look back and see Ringo on the drums playing behind me,” Randy gushes. “It was like a dream come true and I felt like I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. We did a bunch of Beatles songs and I was in heaven.”
There’s also a little something extra for George Harrison aficionados. “Throughout the album, I put in little signature licks that are associated with George’s songs,” reveals Randy, “like the slide part from ‘My Sweet Lord’ or the opening chord from ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ for the fans to notice. Kind of like Easter Eggs.”
By George – By Bachman. A sincere labour of love from one guitar great to another.