After 40 Years Bachman-Turner Overdrive Still Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet
When Bachman-Turner Overdrive released their highest selling album Not Fragile in the summer of 1974, the Canadian music industry was still a fairly closed circuit with few Canadian acts breaking outside of the country.
Some 40 years later, it remains clear that the album’s success not only helped to solidify Bachman-Turner Overdrive as one of the longest standing Canadian rock bands in history but placed them among a handful of acts that aided in breaking down a barrier that had for so long prevented Canadian musicians from garnering international acclaim.
“Back then it was very hard for a Canadian band to pick up work outside of their own country,” says BTO singer and bassist Fred Turner. “Because of the times and the situation, bands like The Guess Who and us and acts that followed such as Loverboy, Bryan Adams and others, we really got the chance to open up a stream for Canadian music to move out of Canada and into other markets. We were able to sort of push a hole open and now Canadian bands are recognized quite readily.”
Prior to the release of Not Fragile, BTO had leveraged Randy Bachman’s southern success with The Guess Who to primarily work in the U.S. in collaboration with Mercury Records. In fact, during the band’s first foray into Canada, which took place at Vancouver’s Coliseum, the crowd mistook them for an American act.
“It was one of our first big shows in Canada and we brought Charlie Daniels and Bob Seger to open,” recalls Turner. “The crowd thought we were American, they had no clue. When it came time for us to go on stage, the announcer stepped out and let everyone know that we were Canadian boys and the whole place went silent, then it just erupted.”
BTO’s “Not Fragile” also marked a crossover moment in Canadian rock as the album, which spawned the hit singles “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” and “Roll On Down The Highway,” captured both the album-oriented rock audience and the singles charts.
“See what happened along the way was that the albums were selling more than the singles, so we became known as an album band,” says Turner. “People weren’t buying the singles when they came out because they already had the album.” But that all changed when, while on tour in the U.S., the band was asked to perform at a benefit concert in St. Louis.
“What happened with us was that we were out hounding in the Southern United States, pushing our second album [Bachman-Turner Overdrive II], when we got a call asking if we’d play this benefit concert in St. Louis,” says Turner. “They had lost their headliners and needed somebody who wasn’t local to come in and perform, so we said yes. For three weeks leading up to the show, KSHE radio, which was such a powerful station [it spanned across 6 states], played album cuts off of our first two records three times an hour. By the time we got there, we were huge!”
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