Some musicians don’t have much time for other people’s material because they’re way too wrapped up in their own. Not Randy Bachman. The Canadian rock legend keeps a home in London, England, which he uses as a handy base for sampling the sounds of others.
“England is like the late ’60s right now,” Bachman asserts from his main residence on Salt Spring Island, “where everybody’s going to concerts. My last time there I saw Neil Young twice, Eagles, Chuck Berry, Queen with Paul Rodgers. My place in London is in Covent Garden, so I just get on the tube and blam, I’m at the O2 Centre.
“I’ve already booked tickets for the Cliff Richard and the Shadows reunion in late September of this year,” he continues. “It’s their 50th-anniversary tour, so I’m going, Neil Young is going, Peter Frampton, Brian May—there’s going to be a whole section of guitar players to worship [Shadows guitarist] Hank Marvin.”
There’s real excitement in Bachman’s voice as he name-checks his fellow guitar greats; after four decades in the business, music still means everything to the 65-year-old rocker. And, lucky for him, he doesn’t always have to trek across the Atlantic to indulge his obsession—he does it every Saturday with Randy’s Vinyl Tap, the CBC Radio One show he’s hosted since 2005.
“That’s an amazing, silly thing that happened in my life,” notes Bachman of the DJ role. “It started as a lark, and now it’s turned into a real serious thing. We’re CBC’s top-rated show on Sirius Satellite and we have, like, 10 to 12 million listeners every week.”
On top of all this, Bachman still finds time to rock out himself. He’s rehearsing a new band, and there’s talk of hooking up with Fred Turner for a Bachman-Turner Overdrive reunion. If he had it to do all over again with BTO, there’s not much he’d do differently—apart from not following 1974’s colossal Not Fragile with the rush job known as Four Wheel Drive.
“I would have dug my heels in more and said no to the label that just wants to put stuff out, put stuff out,” he recalls. “You’ve got to make the people wait. You can’t force-feed them. But it’s an odd thing that happens when you hit number one, and I’ve been there twice—with [the Guess Who’s] American Woman and with Not Fragile. There’s nowhere else to go, so pretty much it’s over.”
Randy Bachman plays the Commodore Ballroom on Friday (January 23).