Robbie Bachmann, who co-founded and played drums for the 1970s hard-riffing Canadian rock band Bachmann-Turner Overdrive, has died at age 69.
His brother and bandmate Randy revealed the news His Twitter account, wrote, “Another sad departure. Pushing behind the BTO, my younger brother Robbie joined mum, dad and brother Gary on the other side. Maybe Jeff Beck needs a drummer! He was an integral cog in our rock ‘n’ roll machine and together we rocked the world. #RIP #littlebrother #family.”
Robbie was born in Winnipeg on February 18, 1953, the younger brother of Randy, a co-founder and guitarist of the most popular and successful Canadian band of all time, Guess Who. Randy left the group in May 1970, at the height of its success — just before the group’s song “American Woman” topped the US charts — and formed a country-rock band called Brave Belt, initially with 18-year-old Robbie on drums. Perhaps inspired by the success of “American Woman”, Brave Belt moved to more hard rock and a third Bachman brother, Tim, joined the duo, along with bassist Fred Turner, and changed their name to Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
The band signed with Mercury Records and released their self-titled debut in May 1973, but their career began in earnest with “II” released later that year. It included the hit singles “Let It Ride” and “Taking Care of Business” which quickly became an anthem and are still frequently used in commercials and sporting events. The band’s sound, which relied on a combination of hard riffs and strong vocal melodies, became a staple of 1970s rock radio, and a series of subsequent albums and hit singles—with “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”—made Randy Bachman two different. First person to write and record an American No. 1 single for a Canadian band. Robbie was the band’s powerhouse drummer and, with his aviator-shaped glasses and mane of brown hair, a recognizable visual presence.
The team began to lose momentum towards the end of the decade and Randy left in 1979. He skipped the 1984 reunion but rejoined in 1988 and remained until the band split in 2004, although Randy left in 1991. Disputes between them in those later years were Brothers over the lineup and the legal use of the band’s name. Ravi effectively retired after 2004.
The BTO was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2014.