Rock superstar Randy Bachman, who now lives on the Saanich Peninsula, has every reason and right to relax.
He helped make rock and roll history, writing or co-writing a long list of indelible songs, as a member of two immortal bands, Guess Who and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. He has sold millions of records and entertains audiences worldwide. The Simpsons Consecrate Bachmann to the pantheon of pop culture.
However, he was interviewed by Black Press three days before his appearance at Sydney’s Mary Winspear Centre, the final stop of his current tour. Yet he continued to endure the discomfort of the road, huddling under a blanket to escape the cold of his hotel room. Then the obvious problem arises. What keeps Bachman going?
“It’s like having a really nice dream and you know you’re waking up, but you try not to wake up because it’s some nice sex experience, or you’re eating some nice food, or you’re doing something nice thing, and then you wake up,” he said. “I try not to wake up. My life has been a dream. I have wonderful childhood fantasies come true, playing rock ‘n’ roll, meeting rock stars and discovering they’re just normal people.”
Bachmann saw and shared the humanity of these stars with others through his long-running radio show Vinyl Tap, where he introduced the music to listeners while sharing behind-the-scenes stories like his frantic but ultimately successful hunt for bootleg Zeppelins During rehearsals for The Airship Story, Robert Plant sang the chorus to “American Woman.”
If Bachman kept some stories for himself, others put the audience in very emotional moments, like the one he experienced while supporting Van Halen in the 5150 Tour.
“My phone rang at 3am and the voice said, ‘Randolph,’ I said ‘yes,’ and it said, ‘Edward – it’s Suite 206.’ I said, Eddie, it’s 3am.” Now – 206. “
So Bachmann went to Eddie Van Halen’s room. “I opened the door – she (Valerie Bertinell, Van Halen’s wife at the time) was lying on the bed in her pajamas, and he came out with the (classical) guitar, crying. I think they had a fight.”
Van Halen and Bachman then retreated to a room in the basement. “So we sat down and he said, ‘My best friend just passed away in Los Angeles. I went to school with this guy, and he’s on his way to heaven right now, and I want to play for him. Sit down.'”
Van Halen then took out his guitar and played for 90 minutes. “He was crying and I started crying, I’ve never heard a guitar like this in my life. I was there in a sweatshirt and he was there in a sweatshirt.” A nearby door was quick as other hotel guests checked what was going on. Just turned it on and just sat and listened. “It was like a small church service, and when he was done crying, he kissed my cheek and said, ‘Thank you, man!’ and went back to his room.”
Another exciting and memorable moment for Bachmann was being part of the Ringo All-Star Band, which also included former Beatles pianist Bill Preston . “For me, with a little help from my friends and I Wanna Be Your Man, me being lead guitar and leading Ringo, and all the other songs, having him on drums in Takin’ Care of Business was the most exciting thing. An unbelievable dream come true,” he said. “When you’re a kid in the 1960s and you dream about playing with the Beatles… When Ringo called, I thought it was a prank call. I’d be with him anytime (on the road). “
Today, others are scrambling to play with Bachmann, who returns to tour in 2023 with performances across Canada and the United States. Another tour with Bachman and The Guess Who songwriting partner Burton Cummings is also planned. “We’ve got deals for a lot of the big pop festivals next year. If there’s anywhere near Seattle or Vancouver or Victoria, we’ll be there,” he said. “The biggest we’ve got is in Minnesota, and it’s going to be with Nickelback and a couple of other big ones.”
Audiences can also look forward to seeing Bachmann in an upcoming documentary detailing the story of his Gretsch guitar, which was lost for 46 years and finally found again in Japan. Plans call for a release in the spring of 2023, and Bachmann promises big payoffs.
“It’s an amazing guitar,” Bachmann said. “I bought it when I was very young. I learned to play with it. I wrote all of The Guess Who and BTO hits on this guitar, and now I have it back, we hope we can get No. 1 again name (a hit song).”
Audiences at Monday’s performance will also get a glimpse of the guitar, Bachmann said. He promised to tell an evening’s story based on his songs, supported by his son Tal Bachman.
“Tal did a great job on this tour,” Bachman said. “He’s playing better lead guitar. He’s singing American Woman, he’s singing No Time, he’s singing, she’s too high. When he plays the guitar solo, he gets applause…so we swap solos and Playing together. It’s fun. I really enjoy it and that’s what keeps us going. If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
For more information on Bachmann’s November 14 concert at the Mary Winspear Center, see here.
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